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The Golden Harvest Drug and Alcohol-Free Centre in Northgate, northern Johannesburg – which serves up to 12 young underprivileged patients mainly from areas such as Alexandra, Eldorado Park, Soweto and Westbury – is undergoing a major facelift that will see its capacity increase fourfold.

Alan Grobbler, of the City of Johannesburg’s Community Development Department, says the R28-million infrastructure upgrade means that the facility will be able to accommodate up to 48 patients at any given time.

The capital investment also means that the centre, which at present only caters for young boys, will extend its services to young girls and adults.

“This massive upgrade will change the lives of many young people, their families and their communities. Golden Harvest is an invaluable asset to the communities it serves, communities that have been devastated by drug and alcohol abuse. At the moment, we are only able to assist young boys but soon we will be able to open our doors to girls and adults in need as well,” said Grobbler.

The centre offers both in- and out-patient programmes, which include access to medical check-ups, physical training, counselling, detoxification and group therapy.

The upgrade, which is expected to be completed by October next year, will also include the building of an aftercare centre or “half-way house”, which will use a multifaceted approach to reintegrate patients into their communities.

Grobbler says the centre’s approach is to provide a support network for graduates to foster and reinforce a healthy lifestyle message, free of drug and alcohol abuse.

“One of the biggest challenges facing patients is going back to their communities after recovery. The aftercare centre will equip them with the necessary tools to resist the urge to go back to drugs and to take control of their lives. It will give them the confidence to live substance-free life,” he says.

The aftercare centre will also provide child and family support and counselling.

Grobbler says the majority of Golden Harvest’s patients are aged between 12 and 13.

“Drug and alcohol abuse is rife in our communities. We even see patients as young as nine in serious drug and alcohol trouble and needing assistance,” says Grobbler.

Opened in 2011, the centre has assisted young people from disadvantaged communities who cannot afford private care.The centre aims at contributing to building social cohesion and providing a safety net for those who are most vulnerable and at risk.

Golden Harvest is one of three state-run facilities in Gauteng dealing with drug and alcohol dependency. It is run in partnership with the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drugs Dependency (SANCA).

The other two facilities are in Magaliesburg and Boksburg.

Drugs commonly used by Johannesburg youth include mandrax, heroin, crack, nyaope, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.

For more information, call the Chief Social Worker from SANCA at the Center, email Loraine@sancacentral.co.za or call 011 6485329.

Address : Golden Harvest Resort,Hunters Road, Northwold.( Near Northgate Shopping Center and Northgate Fire Station.