WHOS Najara therapeutic community program coordinator Trevor Hallewell says demand is high for his Nambour rehabilitation service.
WHOS Najara therapeutic community program coordinator Trevor Hallewell says demand is high for his Nambour rehabilitation service. John McCutcheon

Drug addiction help in high demand

TAKING a person broken by drug addiction and giving them the skills and hope to get clean is the core goal of a growing Sunshine Coast community.

They are the residents and ex-residents of WHOS Najara at Nambour.

The therapeutic community's program manager, Trevor Hallewell, said anyone older than 18 who was able to meet the requirements of the service was eligible for treatment.

Alcohol, ice, marijuana and opioid addictions are the most common ailments for which residents require treatment.

"The demand is very high," Mr Hallewell said.

"We always run at close to 100% occupancy."

About 120 people come through every year.

There are 20 beds at the main facility and a further six at the neighbouring Gunyah House facility.

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Residents go through stages, spending the first 90 days or so focusing inward on what brought them to rehabilitation and what they can do to prevent relapsing.

They also learn CPR and resuscitation skills very early on, so at least if they leave the program they have the ability to potentially save a life.

"We are trying to do something right for those people from the day they get in," Mr Hallewell said.

The second stage is when they are considered a senior resident and expected to give back to the community in which they are staying.

They offer support to the new residents going through the first stage.

"One of the things we often hear from drug addicts is 'you've never been where I've been'."

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He said having others who had lived through addiction helped to reinforce that those struggling could get better.

The final stage is preparing for life after rehabilitation.

Residents move to Gunyah House where they are less-closely monitored.

They engage with employment agencies and efforts to reunite them with family intensify.

Their periods of leave extend to 48 hours.

"Its all about testing the water and coming back in and getting the tools you need before the next time you go," Mr Hallewell said.

Some choose to move into a three-quarter way house in Maroochydore while others go straight back into the community.

"In an ideal situation we've had that addict in our sphere of influence for 12 months."

About 38% of people who start the program finish it, but Mr Hallewell said that did not mean those who left early had failed.

"A lot of them go 'I get it, I know what I need to do and I'm going out to do it'."

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The waiting list to get in is usually between four and six weeks.

Mr Hallewell said Federal and State Government funding paid staff salaries and some office costs.

Residents also pay to stay.

Mr Hallewell would like to expand but said one-off capital grants were hard to come by.

Some donations came from the community but he said in general, people were not keen to give money for recovering drug addicts.

"We are trying to remove the stigma around drug addiction," he said.

"These people are not having a good time.

"They are a product of society in a lot of ways because they have become who they are to survive."


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