THE festive season is upon us and while “the season to be jolly” means a much-needed break for some, for recovering drug addicts it is the hardest as temptation roams far and wide. This is according to Pastor Benjamin Manning, owner of Recovery 911, which is a new rehabilitation center set to be launched in the South Coast early next year. Manning said it is an easy time for experimenting youths to pick up the habit. Manning said after eight long years of agonising addiction on various types of drugs including heroine, and four years experience in rehabilitation centres, his advice regarding those tempting drug offers that might arise during the festive season, is to run as fast as you can. “Most addictions start off with party drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, crystal meth and the like. Even though none of these have an addictive component in them, users easily get addicted to the feeling they get from them and move on to harder stuff which is harder to stop using,” said Manning. Manning, who is originally from Klerksdorp, said like most addicts, his drug use started with “party drugs”.“My parents went through a divorce, which I saw take its toll on my mother as well as on myself. Thereafter I did not get along with my stepfather and so I turned more and more towards drugs. I wanted to hurt my family the same way I felt that they hurt me,” he said. Manning’s downward spiral went on for the next eight years. “There was nothing I would not steal to support the habit and I had been in and out of hospital due to overdosing more times than I can remember. I saw my friends who had been using drugs wither and die or move on with their lives. It was a very lonely road and one day I was in church, high as a kite, and I heard a voice say to me: If you don’t stop doing drugs today you will die,” said Manning. That day he said he went back to his apartment and looked in the mirror and saw all the harm that he had caused to his body and his loved ones and decided to give up the habit. Manning said he went on a 30-day detox where he detached himself from the outside world and the drugs until he was ready to re-emerge and seek professional help. After his own rehabilitation, he decided to train to become a pastor and help those in a similar situations. “Our programme is a minimum of six months because at the end of the 30 days or the 12-step programme that is when your emotions start to come back and the addict is faced with having to deal with the very same emotions that created his addiction in the first place,” said Manning. The Recovery 911 rehabilitation centre is set for an official launch early next year. The team consists of Pastor Benjamin Manning, Kelvin Te Baerts who does office admin, and Emile Conradie who is the resident fitness guru keeping addicts active and healthy.Pastor Benjamin Manning can be contacted via WhatsApp on 0672469981 for those seeking urgent assistance. Or contact Kelvin on 0760401084 or Emile on 0833458808. Recovery 911 will also be accepting sponsorships, partnerships and any donations towards the centre.