I entered into Sober Living Housing early on in 2014. At the time I was desperate to get clean, but after numerous attempts had not had much luck. I had tried everything. I had been using heroin along with other drugs for the previous 10 or so years and had tried everything from maintenance programs to short-term rehab, but kept on relapsing. I felt like nothing was going to work.
I had heard about Sober Living through friends in recovery and thought it was my last chance. If this didn't work, I'm not sure I had any more options. I'm so glad I gave it a go.
Little by little, I started to change. Instead of putting rehab on hold for 'work, partner, family, not enough time' (which never worked anyway), I finally decided to put all that stuff on hold for rehab. It was exactly what I needed to do. My partner was also in a rehab up north and we went on to spend about 10 months in our separate residential treatments. I learned so much during this time. How to be independent, how to look after myself and how I was a good person. I wasn't governed by my past behaviors and I learnt to move on with life and be present.
I became confident again, starting my first job after a long break. I mended the fractured relationships I had with my family along with other people I had hurt in the past. I also made new friends through Sober Living. People that helped me stay clean and taught me how to have fun again.
This year, on May 5th, I will be 4 years clean. In 4 days, my first baby boy is due with my partner, who happens to be 3 years clean in May as well. It's pretty amazing how much my life has changed. I am so grateful to Gavin and Belinda for guiding me back to a happy life, where I don't play the victim or live in fear anymore.
I couldn't recommend long-term rehab and Sober Living enough. My life has done a complete turn around and I am extremely grateful.
After many years and numerous treatment services, we were so weary and our son was exhausted. He went to Sober Living with an open mind after another stint in a Rehab. The difference here is that it is long term rehabilitation. Living independently in a semi controlled environment.
Lead by Belinda and Gavin the staff are incredible. As well as totally professional they are genuinely interested in their clients. We genuinely believe that Sober Living is an essential part of recovery from addiction, as this is where our loved ones fall over after a mere 28 days of rehab then thrown back in the real world. Everyone at Sober Living worked together with him so he could advance to the next stage of his recovery. They supported him so he could gain enough confidence to able to deal with the deep issues that have been unable to be dealt with whilst living in the fog of drug addiction.
Fast forward to today and we have an extraordinary son who is happy, healthy and engaged in life and able to take on life’s’ challenges. As Parents we have seen a miracle happen. We are forever grateful.
A little side note: In recovery people think he has grown taller. He tells people he grew 5cm in rehab. In reality he now walks tall and not slouched over like he did for years.
Gavin we really appreciate your and Belinda's very kind gesture (again), the immeasurable impact that you and Belinda have had on our family, by far outweighs the fees that we have paid as part of our daughters involvement in the Sober Living Program.
To this day it is hard for me to explain the impact of the family day had on us that we attended at Sober Living, without dwelling on, how close we were to losing our way at a time where it was so important that we were setting the direction for our daughter's recovery, the discussions with yourself and Belinda provided us with the hope and belief to commit to that first 3 months, at a time when we did not have the confidence to look past the next day.
The impact that the both of you and the Sober Living Program have had on our daughter and her quality of life goes beyond the ability of words, thank you both.
S & J
Gav and Belinda,
Just want to say thank you. I have seen on Facebook all these beautiful people at the NA convention in Byron bay. My son and so many others would not have had this opportunity if it were not for organisations such as yours.
All the hard work, that at times is very stressful, the reward is enormous. I am sure that I speak for a lot of other families in saying that we are grateful. I would not have believed a year ago that SF would be so happy and high just on life and not drugs.
Money can not buy what you achieve. Your job is really important. What you do is amazing. You all make Australia a better place.
Harrowing effects of addiction
Sunraysia Daily, Mildura VIC by Ashlee Falvo
07 Apr 2018
General News - Page 4 - 1280 words - ID 936915089 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 1041.00cm2
"During 12 years of addiction, I had never once tried to quit. The funny thing is, the first time I tried, it worked. I've been clean 18 months now, and the depression, loneliness and pain is gone. I'm finally at peace with my life, free from addiction." TOM* is a clean-cut young man wearing a tucked-in, collared shirt, sporting an immaculate haircut - the picture of health.
I had organised to anonymously interview a former ice addict, so when Tom walked towards me and shook my hand, I thought it was a case of mistaken identity. Tom looks nothing like an addict. "With me, personally, I think it was always bound to happen," Tom said.
Speaking of an addiction spanning more than a decade, Tom said he knew he had an addictive personality, but like a lot of young men, thought he was invincible and untouchable. "Like most addictions, it started with gambling, progressed to drinking and ended with my life in ruins, and me developing a $500-a day ice habit," he said.
Tom, a promising sportsman, moved away from Sunraysia as a teen to pursue a career as an athlete. He returned to Sunraysia in his mid-20s, well within the grips of a gambling and alcohol addiction, and started his own business. "The gambling came first and, before I knew it, the drinking had started," he said.
"Among my group of friends, I was always known as the one who would take it a step further than the rest of the boys. "I was the one who would have more to drink, I was the one gambling more than just a punt or two. "For them it was more of a social thing, whereas I was gambling and drinking alone. "They all seemed to be able to control it, but I couldn't. Before I knew it, I was gambling and drinking every single day, in complete isolation." Tom said he would spend four to five hours a day drinking and gambling.
"I was able to keep it pretty well hidden from my loved ones because I was living away," Tom said. "I was still working, still maintaining the image that everything was OK." Once he returned to Sunraysia and was back on the visual radar of family and friends, Tom's addictions became harder to hide. "It progressed pretty quickly once I moved home," he said.
"It got to the stage where I was living by myself, drinking countless bottles of wine to put myself to sleep every night, gambling the days away on my phone. "I'd be up at 2am putting bets on, I couldn't drive past a TAB without stopping for a bet." The combination of isolation, loneliness and the guilt of lying to his loved ones escalated into anxiety and depression, and Tom says the gambling and drinking wasn't providing the escape from reality it once did. "I was feeling miserable, and I was in a pretty deep financial hole because of gambling," Tom said. "I went out and found ice it wasn't forced on me by anyone. "I had heard that it gave you a rush, made you forget everything and that's the kind of escape from reality I was looking for.
"When I was using ice, I didn't care about the financial trouble I was causing, I didn't care that I was hurting everyone. "Ice made me numb, so I didn't have to feel anything at all and that's what I wanted." Before long, Tom's financial troubles from gambling and alcohol progressed into financial troubles from ice. "Running my own business and having access to other people's finances gave me a window of opportunity," Tom said.
"I used that money to support my drug addiction instead of paying bills, which made me hate myself, which made me use ice more. "I was stuck in a cycle that I couldn't stop." As the business started to go under due to the financial strain, Tom's family and friends began to suspect that drugs were involved. "I was weaving a web of lies, one lie on top of the other to try to get through it," Tom said.
"I tried to cover it up as best I could, the last thing I wanted to admit to was using drugs.
"At first, I blamed gambling, I would rather admit to that than drug use, but no one really believed me. The game was up, I was in too much financial trouble to talk my way out of it." With his physical health deteriorating, his mental health suffering and his addiction secrets on the brink of coming to the surface, Tom made contact with Sober Living Housing in Melbourne.
"I didn't tell anyone until after I'd made the call," Tom said. "I guess, looking back, I kind of dropped a bombshell on them all at once. I told them I was addicted to ice, that I was gambling out of control, that I was in massive financial trouble, and that I was leaving for rehab the next day." Tom said his biggest fear was losing his long-term partner as a result of a decade of secrets and lies. "She had put up with so much from me already, the erratic behavior, the lies, the denial - all of it. I was terrified she would run for the hills when the truth came out." Tom's parents were "absolutely wrecked" at the news of their son's addiction. Weighing just 55 kgs, within 24 hours Tom was on a plane and checked into the facility, where he would spend the next three months before transferring to South Pacific Private in Sydney.
The next few months in residential rehabilitation changed Tom's life. "I needed every single day of the few months I was in rehab," Tom said.
"The first day I met Gavin Crosisca, (director of Sober Living Housing), I knew I had met the person that could change my life. "He challenged me every day and didn't make it easy, but rehab isn't meant to be easy. I'll forever be grateful to Gavin for saving my life," Tom said.
Now 18 months' clean, Tom is back in Sunraysia and said he is working hard to get his life back on track. "I did a lot of damage during active addiction, so there's a lot to repair," he said. "I hurt a lot of people, I let a lot of people down, I let myself down. "I isolated myself and I lost a lot of people I really cared about. These are all things I work really hard towards repairing and fixing." Tom said if not for his family and the support of his partner, he may not be alive today. "I'm the luckiest guy alive that my partner stuck by me and is still in my life," he said.
"I'm thankful that my loved ones didn't turn their back on me. I was fortunate to be in a position to have people to lean on, to help me with the cost of rehab. But what about the addicts who don't have the luxury of that? "The ones who have no one to help them out, who are stuck in the cycle of addiction with no idea where to turn for help. "The longer you leave it to get help, the worse it is for not just you, but the relationships in your life. Your chances of going back out there and using again are so much higher.
"The ability to get in to a rehab can be the difference between getting clean and changing your life, or staying on drugs and winding up dead or in jail," Tom said.