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Have fun … responsibly

While the festive season is all about happiness and celebration, there is a more serious side to remember. This time of year is notorious for an increase in drug and alcohol consumption, as well as suicide. We spoke to the founder of Ballito-based non-profit organisation Against Drugs and Child Abuse (ADCA).

From holiday parties with friends to year-end functions and family get-togethers, the increase in social gatherings towards the end of the year inevitably leads to an increase in alcohol (and drug) consumption.

ADCA founder Rex Hunt says it is vitally important to know your limit and stick to it. And also, to remember that you don’t have to drink or take drugs to be social.
Rex, an accredited addiction coach, started ADCA in 2013 with a vision to provide safety without judgement to those with drug and alcohol problems. He also works with a number of people who were abused as children, which often leads to them living a life of addiction.
ADCA is both a non-profit organisation (NPO) and a public benefit organisation (PBO) and is driven by Rex’s absolute passion for giving hope to the hopeless. “I worked in private security while my daughter was in high school and I saw first-hand what a massive drug and alcohol problem we have here on the North Coast – amongst both kids and adults.”

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He decided to start a drop-in centre where people could come and get help to get out of the ‘addiction cycle’. Rex eventually left the security industry to run ADCA full time. Now he coaches people, helping them, as he says, move away from a culture of addiction towards a culture of sustainable recovery. “It’s not just about abstinence from these substances, but abstinence along with radical life changes.”

Rex offers one-on-one coaching, out-patient programmes (group meetings), a supporter’s group for family and friends of addicts and an open recovery meeting, which anyone can attend. He also works with children and is currently putting together two online programmes for kids, one to help increase their awareness about substances and substance abuse and an online recovery programme. His goal is to do talks at schools in the near future as well.

The arrival of the festive season brings with it not only an increase in the use of substances, but it also means more money and more ‘dealers’ coming into our area, says Rex. “One problem is that a lot of these drugs that are being sold on the street are not ‘clean’, meaning they are mixed with all sorts of rubbish that can make you very ill.” And it’s not just the hard drugs that put people’s lives in danger. “Alcohol poisoning and dehydration can both be fatal. Not to mention alcohol-related accidents. Our emergency rooms are filled up with these cases every year and it always starts with just ‘social drinking’. But really, there is no such thing. You shouldn’t have to drink to be socially-accepted.”

So, how can we prepare ourselves and avoid festive season binge drinking? “Firstly, remember that knowledge is power. Do you know what alcohol, weed, drugs and even vaping do to your body, especially in the long term? Do your kids know? Sit down and watch some YouTube videos and educate yourself. It’s important to know what you are putting into your body and the effect it has. Your body is, after all, your most treasured possession.” Rex says it’s important that we set healthy boundaries – for both our children and ourselves. “Vaping is a huge problem amongst kids on the North Coast and it can have very serious effects. Do some research and put boundaries in place.” Lastly, Rex says, try find a healthy alternative when you are having fun this festive season. Drinking alcohol triggers ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, so he suggests turning to exercise for a natural release of endorphins!

When it comes to seeking help for addiction, Rex says ADCA is a completely judgement-free zone where people come to find hope. “A person living in addiction usually feels completely hopeless and I want to be able to give them back hope.”

Rex, who is fluent in Zulu, is also studying to be a mental health coach, as he says that recovery and mental health often go hand-in-hand. He runs his one-on-one coaching by appointment and his group meetings are as follows – outpatient sessions: Wednesday and Thursday evenings (R2500 a month for four hours a week), supporter’s group Tuesdays 10.30am – 12.30am (R1000 month), open meetings for all: Mondays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Details: 082 555 4492, www.adca.co.za, Old Main Road, Umhlali, 4390

Text: Leah Shone

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