Former addicts show way to recovery

SAVING LIVES: Former drug addicts, from left, Lester Stevens , Ignacio Schneider, Lucius Hufkie and Sagrin Erasmus have turned their lives around and are now helping other drug addicts to do the same Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
SAVING LIVES: Former drug addicts, from left, Lester Stevens , Ignacio Schneider, Lucius Hufkie and Sagrin Erasmus have turned their lives around and are now helping other drug addicts to do the same
Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

Amid extensive private and government efforts to steer people away from drug use and abuse in Nelson Mandela Bay, a group of former substance abusers is tackling addiction through the introduction of a new 10-step drug programme.

Arising from their personal experiences, including the devastating effects drug abuse had on their families, the group members launched the Anathallo 10 Step Recovery and Life Skills Impartation Workshop in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas.

The workshop – which is founded on biblical principles – deals with the physical and emotional effects of drugs.

The programme was developed and established by Ignacio Schneider, 33, of Gelvandale, who was a substance abuser for 12 years and even tried to take his own life.

The group continues to attract new members.

“Each time something drastic happened in my life, like ending up in prison or in hospital because of drugs, I would just come out and start smoking again, but things started changing for me last year when I accepted God into my life,” Schneider said.

“I got saved and I decided to write up a recovery programme based on my personal experiences and spiritual beliefs.

“Our approach is based on biblical principles because trying to work with a clean heart makes it much easier for someone to change the way they think.”

Schneider also offers individual sessions at people’s homes.

The group sessions are open to all ages, with the youngest person 17 and the oldest 45.

The course runs over five days at a cost of R500 per person.

“Unfortunately we have to charge a price, which includes the study pack and catering, but we are also mindful that some people can’t afford it.”

“In those cases, I never turn anyone away because, for me, it is about the soul of the person rather than their money.”

Workshop facilitator Lucius Hufkie, 35, of Gelvandale, who also formerly had a drug problem, said the programme not only transformed participants, but also their households.

“Drug abuse can create fatherless homes and even break up the household,” Hufkie said.

“I came through the struggle, which means I know what I am talking about. “The most amazing thing for me is how the people get the colour back in their faces, or when you start seeing that sparkle in their eye again.”

The programme aims to establish a routine for participants after they have completed the workshop and includes activities such as exercise – with the idea being to replace bad habits with something good.

“We appeal to our communities to support the initiative by helping to put a life back on the right track,” Schneider said.

The next workshops take place today at the West End Community Centre and the Booysen Park Community Hall between 8am and 3pm.

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