Nieuwefontein: Solving the root cause of drug abuse
Nestled in the heart of the Great Karoo, about halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town is a place of refuge for people who cannot cope with the dynamics of an ever changing world. Addicts, alcoholics, people with obsessive compulsive behaviour patterns, including gambling problems, can rediscover who they are and why they exist.
Drug consumption in South Africa is twice the world norm (United Nations World Drug Report, 2009). Statistics have also shown that 15 percent of South Africa’s population has a drug problem and that our nation is one of the drug capitals of the world. Nieuwefontein Empowerment Centre (NEC) believes that only Jehovah Rapha – the Lord our Healer – can help addicts.
Nestled in the heart of the Karoo, NEC is a refuge for people with destructive behaviour patterns such as substance abuse. Local businessman, Michael Clarke, owns this 3 000 ha farm and the centre has been running for close to six years. The programme is not funded by the government, it is run by a group of dedicated Christians.
The causes of drug abuse
Dereck Cromhout, one of the founders of NEC (which is affiliated with the TCN Christian Network) says that peer pressure, low self-esteem, the need to be accepted and dysfunctional families are some of the main reasons for drug abuse: “It is a bondage that gets people caught up in lies, manipulation, stealing, cheating and deception.”
South African psychologist, Professor Charles Parry, lists some of the factors contributing to the use and abuse of alcohol as: social drinking (habit-formation), psychological distress (substance abuse as coping mechanism), boredom and pursuing a lifestyle that the media portrays as desirable.
Poverty is another significant reason for drug abuse (escapism), as well as the persistent use of medication (both prescription and over-the-counter).
Finding a solution
The leaders at NEC believe that drug abuse is a symptom and not the root cause of the problem: “Substance abuse or any other dysfunctional behaviour is merely an attempt to cope with issues of the heart. Close to 90 percent of the people we work with have issues regarding unforgiveness and rejection.”
This rehabilitation centre focuses on a relationship with God as the solution to all forms of anti-social behaviour. “If you hold to My teaching...you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:32
At NEC, Biblical principles are implemented through God’s Word and through Christian literature. The programme does not discriminate, however, and anyone who is prepared to participate is accepted. A Christian twelve-step programme, as well as praise and worship, also forms an important part of the healing process.
Patients at NEC must maintain a structured work programme, as well as a healthy farm lifestyle. Dereck explains that “most residents who come on the programme are unfit and undernourished.”
Their new lifestyle on the farm includes healthy eating and working. Activities such as gardening and sports (soccer, swimming, gym, hiking, horse riding) are an essential part of the life-changing process. As many addicts have neglected their education, NEC also offers opportunities for residents to complete their schooling, or any other studies via correspondence.
The reconciliation of the family as a whole is a crucial part of the process at NEC: “We do as much as possible to restore broken relationships.” There are regular parent seminar weekends where the family is empowered to continue an environment of recovery once the individual returns home.
Why we need to intervene
As disciples of the living God, we need to be aware of the pain of those around us. We cannot take a passive stance while the enemy devours our children. Pray for people you know who are caught in the claws of addiction and pain and get in contact with Godly professionals. There are Christian rehab centres like NEC in existence to help these desperate souls. Take heart, what is impossible with man is possible with God. He can make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19).