I have been using drugs since I was thirteen years old and used heroin at the age of fifteen. I have never known how to live properly without drugs or alcohol. I did my first bit of institution around fifteen as well. My crimes to get drugs and my behaviour rapidly got out of control and I ended up in juvenile detention until just before my 18th birthday. During this time, I did a few detox programmes, but couldn’t stay clean as everyone was a lot older and there was no follow up from myself. I knew nothing of successful recovery programs, or anyone who got clean.
At 16 I woke up in a juvenile justice detention centre after a massive amount of pills, alcohol and heroin. This was to become a trend that followed me for many years including Christian rehabs, hospital based rehabs, youth refuges, youth rehabs, countless detox programmes and many years in jail. Nothing stuck, except for an attitude of hopelessness. On my last sentence in jail I realised I wanted something different and I’d had enough. I believed I was smarter, better and I deserved more than this miserable existence. I just didn’t know what to do and I was on methadone as well. Upon a drug tainted urine though parole, I broke down and finally asked for help, I didn’t want this anymore. I pleaded to an unusually very caring parole office, who had made some calls and found out about a programme called MTAR at the time. It didn’t take long to get in as I was completely over my lifestyle and emotionally drained, I wanted to change.
My first few weeks were intimidating, eye opening and caused a mixed bag of emotions. I didn’t finish my first admission as much as I wanted to change, my old behaviours kicked in and my thinking took me out the door. However something stuck and I was begging for re-entry after two weeks.
I came back pretty battered and bruised and for the next three months I reduced off methadone I learnt to talk openly, and that I was worth more than my head was telling me. My stay in MTAR was by no means easy, I was confronted many times on behaviours that didn’t serve me, and I had to deal with a lot of issues that caused me to use drugs the way I had previously. However when confronted by these issues the staff always supported me more then I supported myself, it made me feel a part of something in which I’ve never felt before. I made friends, some of whom I still have today.
However I had appendicitis while in MTAR and ended up in hospital for 9 days. Still I was shown a huge amount of support and love, something I‘d never felt. The staff were amazing and my peers were unbelievable again something I’d never felt before.
While in hospital I was given a heavy mix of painkillers and I wasn’t honest about my craving to use drugs after this procedure, and I lapsed. I was quickly readmitted into WHOS Gunyah program where I learnt more living skills. Upon leaving I managed to acquire 4 years of clean time. I utilised everything I’d learnt and made 12 Step Fellowships an integral part of my life.
Around 4 years and 2 months I relapsed again with painkillers as a very acute illness played a part. This time however none of my highly destructive patterns came into play, but I was physically, emotionally and spiritually broken.
I did a selective detox program and was re admitted into MTAR now known as WHOS OSTAR. I knew what worked for me and I wanted Recovery. I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. I have applied myself even more than before. I have never wanted anything more in my life than my recovery back. I know the benefits and I know that this treatment program combined with the self help support of Narcotics Anonymous works. In OSTAR I’ve learnt principles, self respect, relying on more than myself and how to ask for help. I am 39 years old, my life has not been easy, but that is no excuse for a continued life of drugs and crime, especially since I know a better way.
My short term plan is to finish the WHOS OSTAR program and give back to my TC community by doing the Commitment Stage of the program. (Commitment Stage is about giving back to other people in the program to what was unselfishly given to me). Although it’s hard for me to see, I am seen as a positive role model here and I hope to be able to lead by example. After completing OSTAR I am hoping to do the transition and exit stages of the programme so as to get a proper foundation and create a solid peer base, something I have learnt is fundamental to my Recovery.