After many enquiries, the Aurora Alcohol and Drug Centre reopened its doors after closing on 26 March due to the nationwide lockdown.
Marietjie Landsberg, social worker at Aurora, says many patients were in the middle of their treatment when the centre was forced to close.
She says the management board acknowledged the need for delivering this essential service during these trying times. The preparations and gaining of permission to open were started on 4 May, and on 5 May the first admissions were done.
Landsberg says many of the admissions at the youth centre were those busy with their treatment and returning to complete the course.
She says the parents of these youths had a trying time during the lockdown, because many of the children had withdrawal symptoms.
“Some of the children became aggressive, because they still did not have the coping skills to manage their addiction.”
The Aurora Youth Centre, one of only a few in the country, celebrates its tenth year of existence this year. Over this period, 471 youths have been treated.
Landsberg says the programme does not only equip the young people who attend the programme to change their own lives, but also to go out and make changes to their communities.
Children between the ages of 12 and 18 are treated here for various addictions, including addiction to marijuana.
One of the first adults who registered after the reopening of the centre, is *Sello Mofokeng (29). Sello was three days into the programme at Aurora when the centre had to close its doors.
“I was not really equipped to return to my home and deal with my friends. I tried to stay sober for about two days, and then fell back into the habit of drinking too much beer.
“As the lockdown continued, it became increasingly expensive to buy alcohol on the black market.”
Sello says he is determined to change his life for the better.
“If I look at where other people my age are in their lives, then I realise that I used all my money on alcohol instead of building a good life. It also messed up my relationship with my one true love.”
Equipped with the programme he attended at Aurora, Sello is determined to overcome his addiction and to send his life in a new direction. A big part of that will be to decide who his real friends are and who gives meaning to his life.
Landsberg says it is all about changing habits and deciding what is important in life.
“Addictions can be broken, but you need skills to handle life after addiction,” she says.
The centre will celebrate the ten years since establishing the Aurora Youth Centre later in the year.
*Sello Mofokeng is an alias used to protect the person’s identity.
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