A resident’s story - Reflections

I started using drugs to fit in. I had always hung around with older people and they all seemed to use, also my older brother did as well. I started dabbling with alcohol at the age of 9 and as I became older I experimented with other drugs. I really loved what they did for me, they gave me security, helped me fit in,

gave me courage and took care of any emotional pain I found hard to deal with.

By the age of 15 I was taking drugs on a regular basis. This continued until I was 16, by then I had a reasonable drug habit. On my 16th birthday I was informed my father had bowel cancer. This was very hard to accept. We were told he had six months to live. My whole family was dealing with it by talking to one another. We were and still are a very close family.

With this news I went a lot harder with the drugs, as it was the only way I seemed to deal with the news. My father promised me he would live to see my 21st birthday. He did last longer than 6 months and over the years he progressively became worse and so did I. My father did live to see my 21st Birthday. He died 7 days later.

This was a real turning point for me, well, for the worse. I didn't care anymore. I was using uncontrollably, not caring about the consequences. This went on until my mother had to change things. She bought me a one-way ticket to Cairns and sent me on my way. As soon as I arrived there I found accommodation, a job (which I had always had from the age of 16) and I also found a pharmacotherapy program. My life seemed to come to a grinding halt after I was put on the program. I was in it for 3 1/2 years. I was tied down to it; it was hard to go anywhere. Taking a trip away took me 2 weeks to organize, so I took the easy option and never left the city.

Also in Cairns I discovered other drugs. The combination use of these plus pot, alcohol and pills made my life a misery. Isolation, depression and despair. I was basically stagnating while I was up there. My brother who by that time was clean from drugs and living in Sydney, told me about another option for treatment. By that stage I was willing to do anything it took to get myself clean from drugs. I had attempted a number of times to get clean but failed. Three weeks after hearing about this program I was on a bus down to Sydney. I have been here 4 months now. The program has helped me so much.

The speed of the reduction off my pharmacotherapy dosage wasn't too fast or slow. The support you receive from staff and my peers (other residents) is something I am not used to.

The program consists of a number of groups. Ones to share how you feel, say how you think you are going and get feedback from other residents and staff on how they think you are going. Becoming familiar with self-help programs that can help me when I leave, Tafe lessons, Tai Chi and relaxation. Also going to external self help group meetings regularly throughout the week.

All of this combined has helped me turn around all of my old ways of thinking, ways of dealing with feelings, emotions, and stress. With the help of the program, staff, peers and my own determination I am now clean from drugs. I have been clean from pharmacotherapy now since the 16/01/02 - 15 days and all other drugs for 4 months.

I sincerely believe without the Program I still would not be clean.

These days I rarely think about using and if I do I just don't act on it. I am experiencing new emotions, feelings every day. Also as every day goes by I am gaining strength, knowledge and a great support network through this program and self-help group meetings.

I feel great now and am very thankful for what this program has given me, a new lease on life, new friends, and new outlook. The only down side to this is that I know how hard getting clean can be, how many people take drugs and that this program is one of a kind. There should be more of these treatment programs. Less than twenty beds for the whole of Australia is not much. As I have said if it wasn't for this program I don't know where I would be now!