It’s needed: ex-addict

August 04, 2017

Kyabram’s Teen challenge mentor and ex-addict Simon Gilboy supports a new targeted drug and rehabilitation centre.

Kyabram former drug addict Simon Gilboy needed four stints in rehab to take the final leap towards sobriety, which is why he is in full support of additional services for drug and alcohol users.

A personal trainer at Kyabram rehabilitation service Teen Challenge, Mr Gilboy believed there was a dire need for additional support for substance-affected individuals in regional areas.

While he acknowledged there was a push back from some avenues, Mr Gilboy said the potential development of the Brookfield centre near Numurkah would be a positive.

‘‘If I put myself in an addict’s shoes, I would want somewhere to go and it does feel like we are in need of more of these kinds of services here,’’ Mr Gilboy said.

‘‘Nobody wakes up wanting to be an addict, I didn’t dream of becoming an addict, I wanted to be a soccer player. So when I became an addict, it was my dream to be clean, and I had to work out how to do that.’’

A decade ago, Mr Gilboy was battling a heavy amphetamine addiction before he left his hometown of Sydney for Teen Challenge in Kyabram, where he put his life on track.

He said it often took addicts a number of attempts before they kicked the habit.

‘‘If someone has had an addictive behaviour for years, it takes time to undo that, so long-term facilities are fantastic because they give you the time you need to understand what you’ve put yourself through. Short-term is beneficial, too, and is a great step to acknowledge that you need help,’’ Mr Gilboy said.

‘‘But for it to work, an addict has to want to be there, to want to help themselves.’’

But Mr Gilboy said the success of the recovery was also because of the support of a centre, through its sense of community, and a balanced ratio of the type of patients it would accept.

He said he had often flown under the radar in previous rehabilitation clinics, mixing with those who had been placed there through the judicial system, or did not have a desire to be there.

‘‘The problem with rehabilitation centres that I see happening is the concern that anyone can be brought in,’’ Mr Gilboy said.

‘‘Rehab is about community, it’s an actual community and it needs to be safe and supportive, and if you have too many who have been ordered there, it can be hard to break the cycle.’’

Partnering with ACSO as the drivers behind the Brookfield centre project is Odyssey House chief executive Stefan Gruenert, who said early proposals anticipated the centre would become a long-term stay for an open demographic.

If modelled off general residential programs across Victoria, he expected about 20 to 40 per cent of residents to be diverted from the judicial system.

Dr Gruenert reiterated a strong community approach within the centre was critical, along with support from clinical staff.

‘‘It’s about a combination of re-establishing a work ethic and health routine, but our number one thing we’re trying to work on is helping people to develop healthy, positive relationships,’’ Dr Gruenert said.

‘‘If we can teach all the little skills to develop and sustain positive relationships, usually everything else falls into place, so the program will be structured around that.’’

Dr Gruenert said day programs and counselling were effective forms of treatment over time, but a long-term residential service was more suited to those who were on a longer path to recovery.

‘‘When those other things have failed, it’s often recommended that their treatment is intensive,’’ Dr Gruenert said.

‘‘Drug use that has been entrenched for a long period of time, it takes a significant amount of goes or doses for recovery.

‘‘But across the spectrum we need a broad range of programs to be available to people.’’

Mr Gilboy said once residents within the Numurkah community had the chance to connect to the idea and realised it was not going to harm them, the development would ultimately be positive for the area.

He said support was the one issue that had become the root cause and cure for drug addiction.

‘‘Loneliness is the cause, feeling alone when things happen, whether that be attributed to abuse or life trauma or just feeling alone in general,’’ he said.

‘‘Inside there’s someone wanting to talk about those issues, but it’s the fear that stops an addict from getting help.’’

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