I am a proud Aboriginal man, a Darkinjung man. My parents split up when I was five. I was a shy, introverted child and throughout my childhood and adolescence I never felt comfortable, never fitted in. I started drinking and using pot when I was around 11 years old. At the age of 17 I started using amphetamines pretty much every day and then at 25, heroin, which is when my life really went downhill. I was always a thief. I started thieving before I used drugs. I was sent to a boys’ home at the age of 15, my first gaol sentence was at 18. From then it didn’t stop. In and out of gaol, my life got worse and worse.
In 2007 I was in a place in gaol called Ngara Nura. It was the second time I did this program but this time my life began to change. I started to look at myself and I also put my hand up to go to Glebe House. I had heard of other guys who had gone there and stayed clean.
Glebe House helped me to understand myself and the disease of addiction. I got lots out of the meetings and got some structure in my life. I began to have hope that my life could change. Glebe House referred me into three-quarter accommodation in Lewisham, but I used to go back to Glebe House every day – it was my home.
I continued to do everything parole asked, including the Pete program which introduced me into a new world of learning. I did that for 3 months and then started a community services course before being offered an apprenticeship from Ausgrid. It’s been very difficult at times, but I have just become a qualified tradesman at Ausgrid. I live in affordable housing at Common Ground and have my own car. I still go back to Glebe House nearly every Tuesday for the group. It’s a free feed! But seriously, it still feels like my home, and I like to help the new guys in the house, especially the ones coming out of gaol. Just like I got help when I got out.
I’m so grateful for Glebe House. With their help I’ve turned my life around. I’ve been clean and sober for 13 years now and not gone back to gaol. I’m a proud member of the Glebe House family.
My journey with Glebe House started back in July 2016. I found myself, once again coming back from, prison and yet another detox after a savage relapse. I really did a number on myself on my last time around. I had nothing left, no material belongings, no dignity, no self- respect.
Gradually over time, by practicing what was suggested by the staff at Glebe House I started to “Become” again. And upon completion of the program, I felt that I had what I took to live and enjoy my life without the use of drugs.
4 years and 3 months down the line I am still clean. I have completed studies, I have been gainfully employed in a few diverse and different industries and have now, undertaken work with Glebe House. I am a productive member of society today.
I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to go through Glebe House when I needed it the most, and I am grateful for the opportunities this has opened up for me.
I am an addict called Vinh. Vietnamese borned, has experienced war, growing in up in a communist regime. Living in a refugee camp and got stuck in the bubble of using for over 26 years of full on shooting up heroin and everything else. I went in Glebe House at age of 44, was broken in all physical, mental, and spiritual.
Glebe house offering a safe place where I felt the belonging, that I am loved.
Their programs, the love of staffs and ex-residents help me to slowly building confident to be ok, encouragement me to the 12 steps of recovery program that helps me to be able to stand on my feet living life without the needs to use.
Today I am over six years of abstinence from all drugs, a family man, a productive member of society. My assets today are that I am reliable, trustworthy, decent human being.
My proudest achievement is that I was succeeded in studied of Both of Cert 4 in AOD and Community Services at Tafe for the first time in my life at age 47, A co-founder of a Vietnamese speaking recovery meeting in Melbourne that is still going strong for over four years now, Amended my wrongs to all my family members.
Without the connection and a continues supports from Glebe house staffs and the beautiful relationship that I have with the boys that is always there for me, I know for sure that I would not be the person that I am today.
Thanks, God, for Glebe house.
Glebe House feels like the first proper home I’ve ever had. There was a lot of violence at home when I was a kid. I was abused when I was young too… some of it happened in Boy’s homes, where they’re supposed to look after you! That’s wrong, what they did. I tried to tell people it was happening, but it was all covered up, no one listened. I’ve kept that stuff inside for years, used and drank because of it. You can’t talk about it in jail because blokes might get the wrong idea. At last, I feel like I’m in a place where I can speak out. Nobody’s going to judge me. It’s just a beginning but it’s like, I’m going forward at last, maybe leaving that stuff behind me.
I first heard about Glebe House while I was doing the Ngara Nura program in Long Bay jail. I was at the tail end of a six-year sentence still in addition hating myself every day I woke up. Knowing that I had to chase a fix to cover the pain I was in. It came to a point where my life become unmanageable. An emotional wreck I cried out for help.
The welfare worker suggested the Ngara Nura program at Long Bay, in desperation I gave it ago. It was a gift that keeps giving, the councilors were very helpful and gave me a great start to my journey by suggesting the Glebe House program.
So, I started the process to go to Glebe House by ringing the house every Tuesday I did this for seven months. A case manager came out to see me on agency day and suggested it was up to me if I wanted it or not. Everything that I had ever tied never worked so I listened. Something had to change in my life they say nothing changes if nothing changes and I was desperate recently having a heart attack and two stents put in my arteries from chronic drug abuse. I was still in the program in the final stage going to 12 step meeting in green there were boy’s there from Glebe house knowing I was coming there they put their hand out to me and made me feel welcome.
I was in the last Ngara Nura program it was graduation day, and I was heading to Glebe House the next day. The second chapter of my journey I arrived and was welcomed by everyone in the house had my own room it was a bit overwhelming, but I settled in the house it is like one big family. They helped me with all my needs medical, nutrition, fitness, counseling and most importantly a 12-step program.
Glebe House has not only saved my life, but it has given me a life, I no longer hate the person I am today my life a day at a time just keeps getting better thanks to the family that Glebe House provides. I’m nearly 12 months out of prison and 12 months clean from addiction and still live-in stage 2 of Glebe House I come to the house as much as I can to give back what was given to me.
My childhood was nothing out of the ordinary, I come from a great family and was showered with love. Somehow within all of this, I felt alone and very separate from my high achieving siblings, whom I thought I could never measure up to. I was constantly comparing myself to them and felt like I was failing at every turn. What I did not realise as a youngster was that I COULD measure up, just in different ways. It did not help that I had un-diagnosed ADHD. Meaning I spent my childhood in trouble and ostracized for things I could not control – adding to my painful fear of never measuring up.
Fast forward to my early teens, it was in the “older crowd” I thought I had found the feeling of belonging I’d been searching for. I tried pot for the first time at 12 and that is the day my life changed. I did not know it at the time, but I now look back on that moment with a clear feeling and acceptance I was an addict from that first bong. It instantly made me feel a part of something and this would be the track for the next 17 years. The next few years drinking, and smoking pot continued. When I was 16 my uncle who had suffered for years as an alcoholic tragically died from the disease. He never had the luxury I have found in 12 step programs. This rattled me and pushed me further onto the path of addiction.
The next 4 or so years alcohol, a lot of party drugs and copious amounts of weed were consumed daily. I was somewhat functional and fell into a great job building water fronts. I felt I was ok. Throughout this time, I was constantly causing trouble, starting fights and just being an all-round idiot.
On one of my birthdays in my early 20’s, was the night that would impact me for the rest of my life and catapulted me further into the depths of my addiction than I could ever have thought possible. I was out for my birthday, and I was the drunkest I’d ever been, I still have no memory of the night, but I still clearly remember the next morning. I awoke seedy and dusty in a police cell and was informed I was being charged for murder. My head was spinning, I felt sick, and I had to sit down. I was denied bail and spent the next 2.5 years on remand awaiting trial. I was bounced from prison to prison and quickly took to drugs I’d never tried to attempt to quell the pain and try and make jail bearable and just maybe forget for the day that if found guilty I was looking at 20 years jail. I am not without excruciating guilt for my actions, and it is something I will carry for the rest of my life. This has changed me, and no words could ever mend the pain that I have caused. The only way I believe I can live the rest of my life is by trying to help people not make the same mistakes I have and help free them from the depths of addiction. My dream is that the world be a petter place for all human beings. I cannot change what I have done but maybe I can help to reduce the impact that addiction and alcohol fuelled violence have on the innocent people in it.
My trial lasted 4 weeks and was mentally and physically exhausting. The jury ultimately found me not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and I was sentenced to 4.5 years in jail, with 3-years of parole. I completed my sentence using whatever drugs I could find. I got out with the intention of doing the right thing and not using. I still had a lesson to learn, and I learnt it hard. I ended up on ice, using up to a ball a day when I had the money, doing little crimes to get on, such vicious cycle! I was eventually charged for an armed rob and sentenced to another 3.5 years. This is ultimately what I needed and where my life began to change.
I did a program called Ngura Nura at Long Bay where I reduced off methadone and taken to external 12 step meetings. I applied for Glebe House and was to be released directly to them. On the morning of 15th August 2017, I was released, and my journey into recovery began. To be honest I just wanted an out from jail, I had no intention of staying clean or even completing the program. But complete it I did, and I went on to study Community Services at TAFE. I started getting some time up and saw the opportunity in this new way of life. I’m free from parole for the first time in 12 years.
On my 2 years clean the manager at Glebe House offered me a casual position, to which I jumped at the opportunity. I have recently been made a permanent worker and it is testament to what I was taught at Glebe House that I now work there! I am working a job I love and genuinely feel I am helping this world become a better place.
12 step fellowships have given me so much more than I could ever have imagined. I have a sense of self today and genuinely love the person that I am. I am an uncle to my nephew, and he has never seen me once in a bad state, I am a loving son and brother and I have an amazing partner, in a relationship where we actually respect one another and allow each other to grow. Learning acceptance was key, admitting that I was an addict to me was the first step of acceptance and the only step I needed to get 100%. I am a little over 3 years clean today and living a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Take care of the inches and they become miles.
I had reached the end of my life, or so I thought. Landing in hospital for the last time at thirty-seven, I was homeless, incapable of work, of decision making and had regressed to a state of helplessness; I was hiding from responsibility, a broken marriage, judgement, and unreconciled childhood trauma. Drinking had escalated in my twenties, fun to begin with, but nightly blackout had become the eventual trajectory, a destination I dismissed at first, denying intuition and evidence of the chaos I was creating. By thirty-one, my private drinking was the antidote for tremors and anxiety, anesthetizing my shame, perpetual intoxication the only relief I had from a life I no longer wanted. While detoxing, I was strongly advised to explore rehab, a suggestion I had rejected many times before, but now with nowhere else to go and fear as motivation, I aimed at a short-term program, a place to hide and weigh up my options.
The rehab required participation in the Twelve Steps, and though skeptical, I complied with direction, nodded at the right times, and began to remember a basic hygiene routine. I was encouraged to apply for long-term treatment, and again, out of ideas and with fear driving me, I continued on to Glebe House where recovery slowly began to reveal itself as something more than conceptual. Strongly encouraged to work the Twelve Steps, develop a working relationship with a sponsor, engage with counsellors and case workers, I very gradually began to heal; my self-hatred made some small room for hope, that somewhere in the midst of the work I might stumble across a solution to the destruction I’d caused, the problems I’d created and the meaninglessness I felt. Glebe House supported me while I was slowly and painfully reborn. My gradual transformation required accepting that old ideas had to die and that new ideas must take root; that I must learn to trust others who had gone before me, to trust the Glebe House staff and program; little by little, I came to believe it was possible for me to change.
I was guided into the Stage 2 program where I remained for over a year, always coming back to home base, always seeking advice, mentor-ship, and support from staff; the familiar safety of the house, whether it be Tuesday night for bolognaise or Christmas day for lunch. Mentor-ship and support guided me towards volunteering and small studies at TAFE, a gentle reintegration into the workforce and a deeper understanding of recovery. A growing confidence saw me pursue further studies, a heavier workload, bigger jobs, more responsibility and to university; then I was offered a position at Glebe House. How could this happen? Those I look up to say it’s because of the work I did. I say it’s because of the work they did. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
I continue my studies at university, I support fellow alcoholics and addicts while they navigate their way through the complexities of early recovery, I work in the role I so looked up to; I continue to explore a deeper analysis of who I am and nurture an ever-growing spirituality – all of which were inconceivable five and half years ago. It is difficult to describe my gratitude for Glebe House, its program, staff, and client fellowship; words cannot encapsulate this. Action is a far better, more accurate metric, and so I aim at living responsibly and with courage, my gratitude evidenced by continued growth – growth from seeds planted at Glebe House.
I didn’t think I was born a heroin addict. In fact, I feel like I grew up in a pretty loving family. My mother is awesome, absolutely loving in every aspect. My father, on the other hand, was not exactly the best role model a kid could have, although he was always kind and supportive to the best of his ability. I called him by his first name “Tony” he asked me to do this when I was a small child, which was a bit strange.
I was quite a popular and funny kid. I was talented with riding a skateboard which meant that I always had a lot of friends, we would build skateboard ramps in my backyard. We used to go skate schools at night time, smoke bongs, use speed and get really smashed and then break into the school canteen and other blocks to get munchies and equipment to swap and sell our proceeds for more drugs.
By the age of about 14, I started smoking pot, by 16 I’d used most other substances, but it wasn’t until I then that I smoked heroin for the first time. I was scared at the time and remember thinking it was a really bad idea. That was the beginning of the end. I was addicted within a week. I rarely ever missed another day of heroin for the next 17 years, besides when I was in custody and just unable to get my fix.
When I discovered the friend that I smoked heroin with had started shooting up, I remember all of sudden going from someone who was never going to use a needle in my life to “I can’t believe you used a needle without me”. I thought earlier that it was the beginning of the end, well this was really the beginning of the end. It was the best feeling I’d ever had in my life, and I can still remember it today.
Some people say that they always felt like addicts, they always had the obsession and compulsion with things. I don’t exactly relate to that as being a kid, but for me, I just loved the feeling of that first hit. I chased that feeling for the next 17 years.
I did a lot of crime in the community and between the ages of 18 and 28, I spent over 6 years in total in prison. By the age of 21, I realized that I was going in and out of prison and that I would hang out for heroin every time. I decided to get on methadone because I could see a lot of prison in my future. Being on methadone meant that I didn’t have to hang out every time I got locked up anymore, well, at least this was the plan, good luck getting that first dose when you’re in custody, but generally after that it is true. After a while being on methadone stopped me using heroin, it just didn’t work anymore, so instead, I started using Methamphetamine to get a buzz. I stayed on methadone for the next 13 years.
I suffered many overdoses during my time in addiction. I’ve had broken, black and blue ribs due to people doing CPR on me. I’ve even had to resuscitate other people myself, there is a lot of death in the community of recovery and addiction. It’s an absolute war zone out there!
I have been involved in quite a few horrific near-death experiences myself, due to the need for getting and using of drugs. Some of those crazy experiences include events like a motorcycle accident that left me with head and brain injuries, a fractured femur and in a coma for a few days. I have taken a fall out of the third story window of a drug rehabilitation centre trying to climb back in stoned and slipped right at the last minute.
I even escaped from Old Silverwater gaol back in 2001, this little event attracted the MEU, Water police, Pol-Air and a big ground chase too. I managed to get away and subsequently was arrested on the other side of the country in Perth, very romantically with my pregnant girlfriend and mother of my beautiful son on valentine’s day, the 14th of Feb 2001.
In 2009, I spent 3 months in Glebe House. It was my last treatment program, after a long list of them. While there, I had a moment when I wanted to throw it all away and just get stoned, it was too hard, but for the first time in my life, I made a decision to get on the bus and go back to rehab instead of going to Kings Cross. It was a very significant point in my life, a real turning point, it’s crazy I know, but after that day over 10 and a half years ago, things really changed for the better, I have never really come close to using drugs again.
The obsession and compulsion to use drugs had been lifted, but not because of some miracle, it was because, for the first time in my life, I decided that I had to do things differently. This was the point in my life that I decided that I am going to throw myself into the middle of recovery and do every single thing that was suggested. This was the moment I began taking responsibility for my actions and worked my ass off to change my life.
The early days of recovery were hard. I had anxiety and hated the uncomfortable feeling of sitting with myself. What got me through that was joining a 12-step fellowship, connecting with my sponsor and others daily, writing on the 12 steps, doing gratitude lists, and praying, the list goes on and on. I found myself being of service to others, reaching out and offering my help to those who needed it and practiced on a daily basis to be kind and brave.
3 years later, I landed the job of a lifetime, I started working at Glebe House. After spending the previous 9 or so months studying a certificate IV in community services, I was incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to begin part-time work at the service that saved my life. Before no time, I had landed a full-time job and today I am still loving that job more than ever.
I’ve since bought a house, traveled the world, and studied at university. Recently I’ve started a business which gives people in early recovery an opportunity to capture who they are, through a virtual Digital Time Capsule, so they can look back in years to come and see their growth.
After over 10 years in recovery, I have an amazing relationship with my family. I have a precious 3-year-old daughter and after missing out on so much of my son’s life I’ve been able to build a wonderful relationship with him. I never could have imagined the relationships I have today.
I thrive on helping other people, I truly believe the more that give and help other people, the more that the universe will provide. I’m a very kind person and I enjoy sharing the love with those around me. I love to put a smile on people’s faces, and I practice gratitude and kindness in everything that I do. Thank you sooo freaking much to everyone who has been a part of my journey and please reach out anytime if you want to connect.”