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Focus client: 'I am so grateful today'

Focus Counselling Services offers programmes to help people tackle substance abuse (Image supplied)

Men who struggled with substance abuse problems have revealed how a charity had helped them make positive changes in their lives.

Clients of Focus Counselling Services said the organisation’s programmes supported their paths to recovery.

One, whose “drug of choice” was heroin, said: “I couldn’t tell you the last time I thought about getting high.”

He added: “I can remember when I used to get up at 5.30am, go running to the 24-hour gas station and start bumming change so I can get $20 and run around the street and get a $20 piece.

“That would help me to work and get the $50 piece that I really needed.

“I am so grateful today I can just wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, wash my face and go do what I have to do.

“I don’t need that $50 to make me smile.”

The man – in recovery for almost six years – said he went from smoking marijuana to cocaine use before heroin took a grip.

He added: “I hate using this term, but I was a functioning addict, always had a job … if the opportunity arose, I would take.

“I had a good life until rock bottom appeared.

“I always had a way and a means to get more.”

The man said: “For me, all money was drug money.

“I owned my own home, I ended up selling that, that turned into practically all drug money.

“I bought a boat and I lived on that for just over five years but all the while I was spending that money … when the money ran out I sold the boat.

“I figured I will find some place to sleep when the sun goes down – that’s how my drug of choice had me.”

He added: “I had a great life. I travelled, every year I went away two or three times … when that money ran out, that’s when I became homeless.

“I lived on the street for five years and that’s where I found my gratitude.”

Help came first from a woman who introduced him to her pastor and, with their support, the man went to a programme overseas where “the seed was planted” to turn his life around.

He has since worked with Focus, fellowship groups and Narcotics Anonymous to pay back.

The man said: “I do a meeting every day, now it’s mostly on Zoom.

“I just stick with the winners today.

“I found out that the drug itself was only 10 per cent of my problem – 90 per cent was my behaviour and that’s what I’m working on today.”

Focus Counselling Services

In 2019, Focus:

– served 13,000 meals

– counselled 504 individuals

– held 104 group meetings

– housed 20 people in supportive residency

– successfully referred ten people to residential treatment programmes

– transitioned five people to independent living

Another client said: “I’m doing classes with Focus based on life management, relapse prevention, coping skills and so forth … they’ve taught me how to use these tools to my recovery.”

The man, who in the past used cocaine, cannabis and alcohol, as well as prescription drugs, said he had been “clean” for about eight months.

He added: “Right now we are doing a life skills series.

“They’re showing us different core skills, healthy relationships and how to manage our money when it comes to us getting a job.

“They’re definitely doing some great things with us here.”

He said: “I no longer have the desire to use.”

The man added: “I don’t want my kids to grow up without a father. I don’t want them to have a father that’s struggling with drugs.

“Being homeless, having no place to stay made me realise I don’t want to go back to that lifestyle … I choose to do better.”

A client who had not used for about three months said: “I feel 100 per cent better.

“My next step is to get a job and take care of my mother.”

Another man said that in the past he “overindulged” in drugs and alcohol until he became “unmanageable and powerless”.

He added: “I was being evicted from my apartment – I managed to keep my job.

“I have learned some stuff … if I divert from the programme of recovery the cycle’s bound to start all over again.”

He said that Focus’s relapse prevention lessons have “kept me clean”.

The client, who has a steady job, added: “I’ve been putting 100 per cent in with the classes and the literature that they have given me, for some reason it has been very inspiring to my recovery.

“It has been inspiring to me to be encouraged to keep my self esteem and to respect others.”

He added: “My family loves me now, that was very important because I would disappear – that’s a character trait and I’m working on not disappearing any more.”

To read more accounts of people who have benefited from Focus Counselling Services, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published January 15, 2021 at 8:31 am (Updated January 15, 2021 at 8:31 am)

Focus client: 'I am so grateful today'

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