In his late 40s, William is very focused on his program in the Gunyah Men’s abstinence program. This is his fourth time at WHOS.

UN: So why rehab?

W: I have been an ice user for a number of years. I had stopped using but was drinking a lot of alcohol. One day I got really drunk and thought, I can’t go home this drunk to my missus. Someone offered me some ice and I thought it would straighten me up so I had it. I thought I would get away with it. But she doesn’t use, the fit fell out of my pocket and of course it caused a problem. I went downhill pretty quick from there on a binge and got really sick - the emergency ward and the whole bit. I knew I had to sort myself out so I came here to deal with the ice and the alcohol. This is my fourth time at WHOS.

This time I’m doing things differently. My motto is slowly but surely.

UN: They weren’t hassled about you coming in again?

W: Not for a minute. They are really welcoming here. If you muck about you can’t come back, but if you want it, they want you here. It doesn’t matter how often you need to come. They will help you if you ask for help.

UN: What do you like about WHOS?

W: It’s all about change in behaviour. I like how it’s about a 24 to 48 period. It’s just about how you are going in that period of time.

You don’t have to worry about the past or the future, just that period of time. I also like that we run the program ourselves. It’s WHOS - it stands for We Help Our Selves. We check up on each other, sort each other out, ask each other “how are you going?”. If there are problems we take them to the group as “concerns”. it might be something like the way someone is talking about other people when they are not there. We’ll say, we don’t like that, you should take a look at it. We also look at each other’s “fronts” - the way people present to the group that isn’t quite real. It could be a happy front or a counsellor front for example.

I also like that it’s the same program no matter what, whether you use heroin or ice or whatever.

UN: Are there other benefits in being here?

W: They come at things from a lot of angles here. For example, I’m doing a TAFE course at the moment. I’m working in the kitchen as a storeman and at the same time doing the 3 months certificate.

I also like that we do harm minimisation - we talk about safe sex, hep C, HIV, all that stuff. Looking after our health.

Another thing that is really great is that I’m on week 7 of my hep C treatment. It knocked me around the first week, but now I have more energy than ever. I feel more alive. I was so tired all the time. It’s fantastic how different I already feel.

UN: How do you feel about the fact that there are people on Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) here?

W: I have a lot of time for people on OST. They can be really solid, staunch. The guys on the program here are awesome. I don’t have a problem with people being on medication they need. I’m on medication for being bipolar and I’m on antidepressants. I don’t think people should judge you for your medication.

UN: Do you think it works having the men’s and women’s programs separated?

W: Yes, you focus better. Some people can’t help but get side tracked. It only takes one couple and it can put everyone off. I think men can call each other out on stuff more easily if women aren’t around.

UN: What’s your best tip for someone who wants to change their drug use?

W: Don’t pick up. Just don’t use. A day at a time, don’t pick up. Tomorrow’s a different day. Call someone. Don’t use on a feeling. Put it off. Talk to someone about how you feel and just don’t use. There’s a better life there for you if you want it, if you just don’t use, one day at a time.

I lost a mate yesterday. He used and overdosed. Really sad. It taught me never to use on a feeling and especially not to use by yourself. You have to tell someone.

UN: Would you recommend the program?

W: Yes I would; for me it’s a place to get grounded and focused. I feel really lucky to be here