Royal, Banyule Community Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Volunteer Peer Support Group Leader
I wasted too many years to drug addiction. When I started my recovery my instincts were to erase that experience from my memory. I felt broken. The shame and disappointment just made me want to turn the page on that chapter and leave it behind me.
When Banyule Community Health launched the drug and alcohol peer support group in 2015 I volunteered to be trained as a leader because I was new to living in West Heidelberg and wanted to connect with the community. I hesitated a little because I had put in 10 years drug-free and didn’t really want to reopen old wounds.
But I found the group is no place for sharing old war stories. Banyule Community Health has built a place where trust and honesty work together, where there is no judgement, where gratitude and forgiveness do great healing work. Healing was certainly needed because I discovered that stopping taking drugs was not the end, it was only the beginning.
What we found in the group was that through substance misuse we have worn threadbare our hearts. So each day we find ourselves darning socks – mending our tattered selves. Each week we gather to talk about the work of repairing ourselves, gathering to stitch back together the ragged and torn scraps of our damaged hearts. The group is especially important to us because everyone there has been in bad scrapes and dark places where those untouched by addiction may not have ventured. The group offers the easy companionship of people to whom we owe no explanations.
Getting out of a drug-using life can also be a lonely place. Old mates can reawaken old, bad habits and new ones can be hard to find. The friendly, supportive good humour of the drug and alcohol peer support group is happily echoed by Banyule Community Health’s warm, nurturing atmosphere. Just walking in the door of the place feels therapeutic. Banyule Community Health has woven together an organisation with an uncommon ability to make one feel like family. It’s a place where the broken can truly start to feel whole again.