Elim Clinic is located in Kempton Park in the Guateng Province of South Africa. It’s a non-profit Christian rehab located northeast of the country’s largest city, Johannesburg.
Elim was founded in 1958 but its history is rooted far before that; it can actually be traced back to a group of Christians working on the South African railroads in 1927 who saw their co-workers struggling with alcohol abuse. They founded an associated called the SA Railways Temperance Union with the goal of starting coffee shops where the staff could relax instead of abuse alcohol. They launched Elim shortly after when they realized the alcoholics needed professional help. (The world Elim comes from a Christian Bible passage.)
Accommodations and Food
When it first opened, Elim was a Cape-Dutch gabled house but it’s since been modernized a great deal. In addition to a koi pond and large garden, there’s a modern minimalist chapel that towers the campus. Group rooms are classroom-like, with padded folded chairs and a whiteboard with worksheet art on the walls. The one-on-one session rooms have comfortable plaid chairs with plants, tiles and wooden walls, giving it a calming and serene feel.
The bedrooms either have two or three single (twins in the US) sized beds with red sheets, not unlike like a small cruise ship room. Between the beds are Ikea-like wood-paneled drawers with vases of flowers on top. The rooms are tidy, with white, empty walls and large windows overlooking the campus. Housing is set up like a dorm and is separated by treatment plan: there’s one hall for clients in for alcohol abuse and another hall for drug addicts.
Drug patients are two in a room and the dorm-like set up has three bathrooms on the floor. The older patients are assigned to rooms closer to the bathrooms. The alcohol patients are either two or four to a room and there are two bathrooms on their floor.
The food is well balanced and nutritious with the intention of rehabilitating bodies as a part of the recovery process. Elim caters to all religious diets, specifically Muslim. Without a diet restriction, all meals have meat, two vegetables and a salad (sample meal might be steak, chips, two vegetables and a salad).
Treatment and Staff
The treatment plan is designed to help clients grow beyond addiction and experience other life skills training. Their philosophy is based on an integrated holistic treatment approach that combines physical, emotional, social and spiritual treatment. The alcohol program is three weeks long while the drug program is four to five. There are group therapy sessions combined with two individual counseling sessions a week (unless more are needed). They also offer medical detox and dual diagnosis support. In addition, art therapy is part of the treatment here.
Elim assesses all clients to make sure the rehab is right for them through a consultation with a practitioner and a psychiatrist. There are psycho-educational and medical lectures and classes on the development of life skills as well as pastoral counseling in the chapel (both group and individual). Family involvement is structured into the client’s program after one week of attendance; family members can actually come in and be involved in group therapy with the clients.
The staff is highly credentialed and includes roughly 10 MD’s, a visiting psychiatrist, registered nurses, eight therapists (who are mostly social workers), two clinical managers and pastoral counselors.
A typical day at Elim consists of waking up at 5 am to receive Vitamin B shots to jump-start the clients from the lost energy that the lack of substances is tolling on their bodies during treatment. Then can go back to sleep or read until 6:30 am and from 7:15 until 7:45 am is a morning brief at the chapel. Breakfast is from 7:45 to 9 am and that’s followed by group therapy or psychotherapy until 11 am, with a tea break in-between. Lunch is at 12:30 pm, after which there’s group therapy, spiritual therapy or one-on-one sessions. Medical lectures and life skills classes then take place until 4 pm, after which clients can enjoy free time and exercise or simply relax and socialize. Dinner is served at 5 pm and afterwards there’s more time to exercise, watch TV and socialize until 9 pm, when clients must go to their rooms; lights out is at 11 pm.
Visitors are welcome after the first week of treatment but only five are allowed per client. Cell phones and computers are not permitted but can be used once a day under supervision if it is absolutely necessary for a work or a family emergency.
There are flat screen TV’s throughout the facility that clients can watch anytime they’re not in therapy or eating. There are also on-campus coffee shops where residents can buy coffee, tea and cigarettes.
Exercise is important at Elim. Clients are encouraged to play volleyball, soccer, croquet and cricket as well as enjoy “relaxation exercises”—that is ping pong, pool and darts. Walking and jogging on the large green is another suggested activities since they are not taken “off-campus” for extra curricular activities. There’s also an on-site gym with weights and treadmills.
There are serious positives to this place: the price in American dollars is hard to beat, the treatment is solid and the history impressive. Of course, some of the methods employed here are unusual (the Vitamin B shots, the separation of drug addicts and alcoholics) so clients hoping for traditional treatment should look elsewhere. Still, for those looking for a Christian treatment program with a holistic approach, here’s an exotic location in an urban setting that takes treatment seriously.
133 Plane Rd
Kempton Park, 1619, South Africa
011 +27 11 975 2951
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