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Surfing Bringing Positive Vibes to Addicts

Addictions come in all shapes and sizes, and so do the methods being taken to combat them. A facility for recovering addicts in Cape Town, South Africa has begun using surfing as a tool in helping those who struggle with different forms of addiction, and they’re seeing success as a result of it. “People who have been using drugs for a long time need to fill their time and surfing offers that,” Hugh Robinson, the director and owner, said. “The biggest task for a recovering addict is finding new enthusiasm for life. Surfing gives that, it gets the juices going, new excitement and passion.”

The name of the facility is the Tabankulu Recovery Centre. The man heading the surfing program is Lenny Stolk, a 53 yr. old recovering addict himself who has seen surfing make all of the difference in working to overcome the vice’s that pulled him down. Mr. Stolk had been through different forms of treatment, but nothing provided him with the outlet and the opportunity for hope the way that surfing has. “I went to rehab but wasn’t interested. Then, one and a half weeks in, I just had a ‘vision’, call it what you like, and I gave up,” he said. “It’s easy to say no and go back to drugs and drinking, but learning to surf gives you a real sense of achievement, which is important.”

Since September, Stolk has taught about 20 people to surf and is seeking to help many more with their addictions by giving them the gift of surfing. Is it working? His students seem to think so. Catherine Pike, 22, from Fleet, Hampshire has been in the treatment facility since June. She is quick to note the difference that surfing has made in her personal battle. Before checking into the facility, Pike had never tried surfing. “There’s something spiritual about surfing. Being out in the ocean gives you time to think and reflect. Some days are worse than others, but when you get out there it clears your mind,” she said.

With surfing, every wave brings a new opportunity for hope. For those who struggle with addiction, an opportunity for hope is sometimes all they are looking for.

Posted by Shaun on Monday, December 15th, 2008 in Surfing.

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