R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y.: Helping disadvantaged people overcome addiction

While many are blissfully unaware, there is crisis of disastrous proportions in South Africa. ., and impacts the lives of countless more. Addiction is rife in this country, and families living in disadvantaged communities are often hardest hit by these issues. There is a resultant need to help disadvantaged people overcome addiction.


Addiction is about more than hard drugs and alcohol. It can be anything that is used to escape the pain in life. It also includes prescription pharmaceuticals. For some, over-the-counter medications can be a very real issue. These seemingly innocuous medicines can send people on destructive benders and can be very difficult to give up. Issues of addiction even extend to include an unhealthy dependence on pornography.


The mindset and cycle of an addict


Addiction has a cycle which often begins with a very negative self-image. When the person faces various internal and external pressures without emotional and practical tools to deal with those pressures, they may turn to experimentation with substances to try to alleviate the pressure. At first, there will be a sense of relief and euphoria which is quickly followed by efforts to hide the using and results in shame. This is often followed by rationalisations for their addictive behaviour. These shameful sensations compound a user’s negative feelings and sense of guilt and lead to reinforcing feelings of a bad self-image. And the cycle then repeats itself.


When a person becomes addicted, they enter a state of non-rational thought. A big part of recovery is about a person in need of acknowledging their absolute bankruptcy and need for help.  It is almost impossible to talk in a sensible way with an active addict. But the acknowledgment of their deep need is a vital step in moving back towards rationality. Recovery is about giving people in desperate need an avenue to help them with their brokenness.


The roots of addiction


Often the roots of addiction lie in past events. It could have been trauma, and the resultant negative behaviours learnt to cope with it. For many it lies in abuse and unhappy childhoods. These all lead to being broken in spirit at a very deep level. The fruit of these negative roots are addictions. Dysfunctional dependencies and behaviours result from these underlying causes. Poverty is often a massive factor, as it engenders a sense of hopelessness. Seeking an escape from this pervading sense of despair often makes drugs seem like the only option.


The R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. Programme


R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. is a series of workshops that can be implemented anywhere. The material can be used after a fairly short time of training and mentoring. When properly implemented, it runs over a period of sixteen weeks. These support groups can be started in any number of situations. They can be run in the context of a local churches, clubs, or small groups. 


The lead developers of the programme are Peter Kilian and his wife Estelle who have decades of experience working with recovering addicts. The team has developed this programme with his experience and researching international best practises.


R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y.: A Holistic Approach based on best practises


The R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. programme seeks to take a holistic approach in seeing people freed from this debilitating state. It is a three-dimensional approach because it involves addressing each aspect of the person. It addresses physical addiction, emotional addiction, and unresolved spiritual conflict.


R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. addresses the physical, psychological and emotional ramifications of addiction. The physical ramifications of coming off addiction can be serious. For example, some people can experience heart attacks and seizures. The programme also seeks to implement a spiritual dimension to the process of recovery. Studies have shown that religious belief can be very important in recovery. It is also a factor in preventing addiction in the first place.


The R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. programme addresses the hard facts of addiction. Addiction rewires the physical nature of a user’s body. An addict’s physical brain chemistry is altered by substance abuse. Therefore, addiction is difficult to overcome. Alcohol might take a more prolonged time to have such an effect. Other drugs can rewire the brain in a much shorter time.


Support groups: Key to any rehabilitation programme


Many people enter various programmes to stop addiction relapse. Some figures show that as many as 60% of recovering addicts will go back to drugs.  One massive factor in such high relapse rates is the lack of a proper support system. Recovering addicts desperately need support systems to sustain their recovery. 


In South Africa, there are support groups for addicts available in more affluent suburbs. We commend the work being done to help anyone and everyone that has access to these institutions. But we have found that the poorest and most vulnerable communities do not have the support they desperately need. There is nowhere for the vast majority of South Africans to find help for their addiction. 


The R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. programme seeks to give support at little to no cost to addicts seeking help. Our informal settlements are desperate for this type of assistance. RECOVERY can be launched inexpensively and is poised to help thousands of the most vulnerable in our society.


These support groups can be places of safety where someone addicted to substances can find the help they need. Support groups are of vital importance in the process of seeing people set free from what binds them. Recovery is very seldom a short-term process. Seeking to be clean is a long-term ideal. Support groups are often needed for years.


Facilitators who have been trained in the communities are already implementing successfully.


There is hope: Recovery is possible



The R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. programme seeks to equip people to help addicts effectively in a short period. It seeks to mentor those who have a heart to see people set free from addiction. It gives them the tools needed to be an effective support to those seeking sobriety. It has been seen that all over the world how vital support systems are in seeing addicts set free from their addictions. An addict can’t sustain their recovery on their own.


With the support offered in the R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. programme, there is hope. Working together, we can see even the poorest delivered from their addictions.


Bibliography/Further Reading/watching