Watch the Health Matters video in which Host Dr Yakub Essack talks about Drug Awareness Week with Wedge Gardens’ Adel Grobbelaar to understand the medical issues and signs of drug addicts as well as where and how to treat an addict. #WedgeGardens #KickYourHabit
Wedge Gardens is available to do drug and alcohol abuse awareness talks at schools and in workplaces.
The Sanca-affiliated rehabilitation centre, situated close to both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, offers a diversion programme for employees whose work is being affected by addiction issues and who may thus need counselling or rehabilitation. This is in addiction to a full range of holistic substance abuse treatment programmes.
For further information, call 011 430 0320.
Take a moment on June 26 to consider how drug abuse has the potential to tear apart families and even communities.
Since 1987, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has taken place on June 26 to raise awareness of this debilitating social problem.
Wedge Gardens rehabilitation centre, situated just outside of Johannesburg, supports the Listen First initiative. Its aim is to get adults to listen to children and youth because this is seen as the first step to helping them grow up healthy and safe.
Wedge Gardens social worker Karen Griessel explains that Listen First in an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.
“Conversation about drug use must start with children and youth to educate them about the realities they will face: on the playground, in their communities and later, even in their workplace,” says Karen.
Talk often and listen openly, she advises. “Conversations between individuals, schools and communities need to be promoted. Listen with an open mind, ready to learn and grow. Handle conversations respectfully, without judgement, assumption or bias.”
The Listen First project looks at demand and supply statistics, human rights, emerging challenges, new psychoactive drugs and national sentencing policies, with an obvious focus on prevention and treatment.
Karen says that last year 190 000 people died of drugs globally. This figure does not take into consideration the health implications – like TB, HIV and hepatitis – of those using drugs or the increased prevalence of drug trafficking and drug-related gangsterism.
According to the World Drug Report, synthetic and psychoactive drugs being spread through modern cybercrime and dark-net business deals is of concern. Development, health, peace and human rights are being attacked on a severe scale due to drug use worldwide.
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens).
By: Karen Griessel, Social Worker at Rand Aid’s Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre
World-wide Worry is a phrase used to refer to someone who spends too much time using Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other forms of social media – to the point that it interferes with other aspects of their daily life.
The cluster of behaviours associated with the heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of research.
Generally, addiction usually refers to compulsive behaviour that leads to negative consequences – when people feel compelled to do certain activities, which become a harmful habit that interferes with their responsibilities and activities.
A social networking addict could be considered someone who constantly needs to check their status updates or stalks others’ profiles for hours on end.
Does spending three to five or even seven hours a day online mean one is addicted, or could one argue that they are just networking or gaining information?
Researchers have found that self-disclosure stimulates the brain’s pleasure sensors much like sex and food do. With this physiological and biological addictive undertone, this finding is rather alarming.
Anxiety is a definite symptom of not being able to do an activity. For example, when a smart phone’s battery dies or there is no data, WiFi or electricity available.
Further research is exploring the impact of social networking on real-world relationships, especially marriage, and some have questioned whether the excessive use of social media could play a role in divorce – because it weakens human ties and ironically leaves the individual feeling more alone.
The big question then is, can social media use develop into a pathology or mental disorder? We know, for sure, that it has the potential to cause long-term damage to our emotions, behaviour and relationships. The harm lies in a person’s change in behaviour, which has been linked to depression and loneliness.
There is an unrealistic expectation that your online friends will be there for you in real life, which is rarely the case. The problem with social media is that self-image relies mainly on others and their opinions.
There is no recognised treatment for social media addiction. Although there is research being done on it, there is no social media addiction classification.
Things are a lot more black and white at Wedge Gardens treatment centre these days.
The long-anticipated giant outdoor chessboard has been completed and is being enjoyed by the gentlemen at Wedge Gardens.
“A special mention needs to be made of those individuals who made yet another occupational therapy department (OT) project possible,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the OT department and played a big role in the project. “Our thanks go to Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown and the Rand Aid Association, groundsman George Vermeulen and his team, as well as the patients at Wedge Gardens.”
Leisure boredom – or unproductive free time – is considered a precipitating factor in addiction and substance use. The OT department at Wedge Garden strives to instil balance within the lives of the patients at the rehabilitation facility by stressing that through meaningful occupational engagement, an individual is better able to cope with life stressors, feel a sense of worth and meaning within society and find enjoyment in healthy and constructive activity participation.
“Not only is the chessboard a space for the gentlemen to learn to use their time in a productive manner, but it is an area at Wedge Gardens where they can learn social and cognitive skills,” says Kendra.
It is a known fact that substance abuse negatively impacts cognitive health. “A chessboard is a fantastic mechanism to promote cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, memory, problem solving, judgement and executive tasks. Furthermore, as the game requires at least two players, the patients at Wedge are exposed to social interaction, which aids communication and conflict management skills,” says Kendra.
The OT department believes that through the creation and completion of projects such as the chessboard, the patients at Wedge Gardens learn numerous skills on an ongoing basis.
As such, they were involved in the planning and construction of the project and the procurement of donations. “A sense of altruism is instilled in the patients because when they end their treatment programme, they leave having been a part of a project that can be used by future patients.
“I am exceptionally proud of my patients and the work they have done to complete another OT project. Through encouraging proactive use of the facilities at Wedge Gardens, we are equipping our patients with skills for the re-integration into society, which is fundamental to any recovery programme.”
After relocating last year, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is settled in at Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst, just outside of Johannesburg.
Both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is situated in extensive grounds easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.
Wedge Gardens officially become a member of the Sanca family in 2016 after going through the approval process with Sanca’s National Management Board.
“With the Sanca head office on the premises of Wedge Gardens, a closer working relationship has been established. Numerous clients have been referred for treatment through the website and WhatsApp helpline. In addition, other stakeholders visiting the National Sanca Office get to know about Wedge Gardens,” says Sanca spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen.
“Wedge Gardens offers a safe, secure and welcoming environment. We feel at home and have received excellent support from the maintenance and gardening services,” she adds.
“The management of Wedge Gardens, Ayanda Matthews and Adel Grobbelaar, has been wonderful and helped us settle in. It is a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.
“As one of the oldest rehabilitation centres in the country, Wedge Gardens is one of the flagships of the type of services which should ideally be provided to treat substance use disorders in South Africa,” says Adrie.
Established in 1956, Sanca has a proud history of contributing to the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. It has evolved over the years to meet modern challenges and today boasts an Academy of Learning that offers Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses for those who have a passion for working with people.
“We offer a basic counselling course and online courses,” says Adrie.
Sanca has a presence in eight of the country’s nine provinces. Wedge Gardens is one of 30 Sanca treatment centres.
“We are proud to be part of this hard-working and effective non-profit organisation,” says Ayanda.
* For further information on Sanca or to enrol for one of the courses offered, visit their website www.sancanational.info. You can also use their WhatsApp helpline: 076 535 170.
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320 or visit their website: www.wedgegardens.co.za
With two decades of experience in the healthcare field, Wedge Garden’s new deputy manager and professional charge nurse brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that complements the substance abuse treatment centre’s dedicated professional team.
Kempton Park resident Estelle Raath joined Wedge Gardens on February 1, 2018.
“As part of Wedge Garden’s multi-disciplinary team, I am hoping to add the experience gained in many disciplines to Wedge Gardens and to the patients,” she says.
One of her past positions was at another Gauteng-based rehabilitation centre. “I gained lots of experience in the field of addiction and found that I have an affinity for it.”
Estelle completed her B.Cur degree in 1995 through Potchefstroom University and registered as a nursing sister (general, community, midwifery and psychiatry).
During her training, she worked at various hospitals including Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Witrand Rehabilitation Centre, Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital, Tara Moross Psychiatric Hospital and various community nursing clinics.
Before joining Wedge Gardens, she was unit manager medical ward: Life Dalview Hospital. Before that she was nursing service manager: Elim Clinic. Estelle has vast experience in occupational health, as a maternity and labour ward sister and as a theatre sister. She also did a stint in Saudi Arabia.
A fan of evolving with the times, Estelle has completed a number of short courses.
“Since starting at Wedge Gardens, everyone has welcomed me and made me feel as if I am an old colleague. Team members and all patients at Wedge are amazing and I am truly blessed to be working here,” she says.
Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department has stepped to it and completed is walking labyrinth.
“The aim was to provide an additional space for mindfulness practices at the Wedge Gardens to fuel and support the dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based stress-reduction programmes that the OT department run every weekday morning,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the department.
Mindfulness and emotion regulation, which are skills of DBT, have been recognised as key components towards any recovery process. Fuelled by the desire to motivate and engage the patients at Wedge Gardens in mindfulness, Kendra began the process of collecting donations for the rocks needed to form the borders of the walking labyrinth.
“A huge thank you to Pebbles for Africa for their help in reducing the costs of two truckloads of rocks. Gratitude is also extended to all individuals (whose names are recorded around the labyrinth) for their contribution towards raising funds for the OT project, as well as to Rand Aid for its continued support.”
Kendra says the construction of the labyrinth was a rewarding process for all involved. “The patients were taught to take initiative during the construction process and as such were encouraged to work collaboratively – utilising communication and problem-solving skills, as well as frustration tolerance, in the formation of ideas and the implementation of action.
“The pride I have in my patients is huge. Not only have they shown investment in their recovery process by actively engaging in all elements of this project, but they have created a space that can be used for years to come by future recovering addicts and alcoholics. Mindfulness is an exceptionally powerful medium in developing skills that combat anxiety, depression and rumination as well as emotion regulation, self-compassion and awareness.”
Occupational therapists work through activities to help with awareness of self, skill development and the creation of functional, meaningful and goal-directed lives. Every project initiated by the OT department at Wedge Gardens is centred around optimal patient care and treatment.
“It is a fantastic experience seeing the change that occurs in an individual when they engage in something that stimulates passion, creativity and enthusiasm – and even more so when it promotes change in behaviour.”
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)
Research indicates a connection between mood disorders like depression and substance abuse, says social worker Karen Griessel, who has helped dozens of people kick addiction through Wedge Gardens’ professional treatment programme.
Sanca-affiliated Wedge Gardens has developed a holistic treatment programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care within the life cycle of addiction, from onset to the later years.
“People diagnosed with a mood disorder are twice as likely to abuse substances and one-third of people with depression have an alcohol problem. People who are depressed may drink or abuse drugs to lift their mood or escape from feelings of guilt or despair. But substances like alcohol, which is a depressant, can increase feelings of sadness or fatigue,” says Karen.
She explains that people can experience depression after the effects of drugs wear off or as they struggle to cope with how the addiction has impacted their life. “A drink or two or a line of cocaine might temporarily relieve some symptoms, but the backlash when the chemical leaves the body brings the depression to new lows. This withdrawal depression happens each time chemicals leave the body. This can trigger the use of more alcohol or drugs because they will help get rid of the bad feelings.”
Those who suffer from depression are combating more than just occasional sadness. Many times, the symptoms of depression manifest physically as well as mentally. Some of the symptoms include the following: aches and pains, sleeplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, weight issues, sleeping too much, no energy, crying, worthlessness, irritability, suicide and general loss of interest in life. Some roots of depression include brain functioning, environment and childhood experiences, genetics, situational factors and chemical imbalances in the brain.
“It’s not clear fact which comes first – addiction or depression. Some people develop alcoholism or drug addiction first while others develop depression first. Because drug-use symptoms can imitate the symptoms of depression, it can be difficult to diagnose depression when a person is actively using,” she says.
A person who abuses a substance may also develop depression. For instance, the person may abuse a substance, become addicted, and eventually it affects their life negatively. These effects may contribute to developing depression as it alters the levels of serotonin.
On the other hand, people who have depression may abuse a substance to self-medicate and treat the problem. Although substance abuse may be used to relieve symptoms, chemical intoxication can make depressive episodes more severe, increasing the frequency and intensity of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviour. “Typically, this is only a temporary solution, as the substance abuse worsens the depression over time. Drug or alcohol dependency can cause a great deal of hardship across all spectrums of life and ultimately worsen the person’s depression.”
The World Health Organisation states that 350 million reported people suffer from depression, half of which won’t receive treatment.
Treatment for depression and substance abuse generally includes the use of both medications and therapy. Antidepressants may be used to stabilise mood, and various medications may be used as needed to moderate withdrawal from substances of abuse. Therapy makes up the backbone of treatment, addressing issues related to both disorders. A rehab programme that addresses both depression and addiction may help to stop the progression of both disorders and empower the individual to build a healthy, sober life.
“Someone who had depression before they began to abuse substances will most likely need treatment, including medication intervention, for a longer time than someone whose depression was caused by the cycle of addiction.
“Depression is a chronic, progressive illness that may get worse without treatment. The only way to treat this serious disorder effectively is through professional therapeutic interventions, such as behavioural modification, support groups, motivational therapy and antidepressant medications.”
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)
A little bit of civic-mindedness and concern for others goes a long way. This is what young Lebogang Tsebe of Alexandra experienced when his mother refused to allow him to ruin his life.
Sylvia Tsebe is part of the housekeeping staff at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village. Last year, she unburdened herself at work, saying how she feared for her young son who was using drugs and refusing to go to school.
Rand Aid also manages a substance abuse treatment centre called Wedge Gardens. “We approached Wedge Gardens for guidance and Lebogang was put on a waiting list to be admitted to the centre for treatment,” explains Jenny Tonkin, Inyoni Creek’s manager.
Eventually, a space became available and Lebogang spent the next three months as a resident of Wedge Gardens, where he benefited from the professional programme that is run. It is a holistic programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care.
The centre has a limited number of state subsidised beds.
At the end of last year, Lebogang returned home – clean, sober and full of hope. Sylvia knew that without an education, Lebogang would battle to get a job and without a constructive way to keep himself busy, his chances of relapse were greater. She again turned to the management team at Inyoni Creek.
Deputy complex manager Marinda Looyen suggested that Lebogang go and see what courses were available at the Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre in Kempton Park, where Inyoni Creek sends its staff for training.
“On applying at the college, he was given a full bursary and is doing a three-year course to be trained as a mechanic,” says Jenny, smiling when she remembers how Lebogang – now 19 – arrived at their offices recently to thank them for all they had done to help him.