By the time I got to the Buttery I'd been using and abusing drugs and alcohol for over twenty years. A once promising career in the arts was destroyed, my family had disowned me and my friends didn't want to know me. I'd been in a psychiatric unit and spent years in and out of detoxes trying to get clean. I had tried another rehab, moving cities, psychiatry, university, relationships and work. I could get clean but couldn't stay clean. I simply did not know how to live without drugs.
In amongst this chaos I'd had two children that I was trying to parent on my own. Towards the end of my using I had voluntarily put them into foster care because it was painfully apparent that I was incapable of taking care of them. I loved them too much to keep them with me in the wretched life I was living. It broke my heart.
I believed I was a hopeless case, destined to spend the rest of my life miserable and alone.
For me, the experience of the Buttery was bigger than the sum of its parts. For the first time in as long as I could remember I was participating in something. Namely, my own life. I felt safe enough to fall apart and was loved - sometimes "tough loved" - back onto my feet. I had thought going to The Buttery was the end of the road for me, but in fact it was just the beginning.
Even more than the education/information I was given at The Buttery, which is invaluable in my day to day living, I learnt a sense of community, that I can give to others and receive from them as well, that "I am a part of." To that end, I've just started volunteer work at The Buttery because, damn, I'm just not quite ready to leave home!
Today I'm fifteen months clean and sober. I have some good friends; my relationships with my family are healing. I live in a beautiful place with my beautiful daughters and when they are barefoot it's because they choose to be, not because they don't have any shoes to wear.
Latest Update: It's seven months since this article was written. Alice has just resumed tertiary study at University and is thrilled about it. She has spent much time learning how to re-parent her two children, who continue to live with her and her partner - also a recovering addict and a fantastic man!
The kids are really stable and happy and have a loving home environment as their base. Alice has recently performed in local theatre productions in her area, and has returned to singing of late, and continues on with a program of drug and alcohol free living. She's very busy and her life grows in richness, love and fulfilment!
In the late 80's Kelly started using party drugs". Cocaine and speed helped her while studying at University, and working part-time. She had made various attempts to get and stay "clean".
The first person to travel to Israel and trial the "rapid detox" program and then Naltrexone, Kelly's recovery attempt on this occasion was highly publicised. The twelve months following this attempt, Kelly describes "...as the worst twelve months of my using. Naltrexone stopped the physical addiction, but didn't address the issues of why I was using. I had no counselling or therapy," she said, "and all the while I was secretly using cocaine, speed and alcohol, whilst living the lie that I was clean."
Kelly decided she needed rehabilitation and entered a "work based" program, which she nearly finished before "busting". She then realised she needed counselling and a "more spiritual aspect" to her recovery. In January 2000 after four years of "trying to get clean," Kelly entered The Buttery. After eight and a half months of intense rehabilitation she left to continue her path of recovery.
Today at 29 Kelly is close to twelve months clean. She can see a future for herself and has a sense of what she wants to do and of worth in the community. Kelly says, "Before I came to The Buttery I was definitely ready to change my lifestyle. It has been hard and challenging and I am grateful to The Buttery for helping me."
Latest Update: Another year has passed since this article was written. Kelly is still clean and abstinent from all substances and has spent the past year working part-time. Since leaving the Buttery, she has pursued a deep interest in Yoga, and a few weeks ago began a year-long Yoga Teacher Training Course. Her life continues to develop and flourish, and she remains expressly indebted to the Buttery Rehab and the lessons she learned there, and has since built upon.
Jan is coming up to her 40th Birthday. She lives and works in Byron Bay as a writer and painter. Her life is "wonderfully peaceful" and she and her partner - who she loves dearly and believes to be the kindest man in the world (!!!) have just had their first child in July 2002.
This is her story... Jan grew up in a strong Irish Catholic family on Sydney's Upper North Shore. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse led to Jan picking up drugs at an early age, and by 14, she was aware she had a "problem" with substances such as marijuana, LSD and alcohol.
A gifted student, she stopped taking drugs in the final two years of high school, during year 11 and coming in the top 5% of the state in her HSC exams.
Gradually however, after a stint at university, she began using substances again, gravitating towards alcohol and "powders". She dropped out of uni and moved to the inner city, where she was introduced to heroin. Within a month or so of using heroin, she was dealing the drug with a partner. Arrests followed and within a few years she was at her first detox.
Jan spent many years in and out of detoxes and rehabs. Arrests increased and she found herself in prison briefly. Her addiction took over completely and she lived on the streets of Kings Cross at times, working in prostitution and living a life of crime and break and enters, and seeking help from local drug and alcohol agencies and refuges. She went on methadone three times, but to no avail.
In the last few years of Jan's using, she became involved with Sydney's underworld. After the murder of a drug acquaintance, and the realisation that she would eventually end up with the same fate, she decided to try rehab as a last resort.
At 36 years of age, weathered and tired from addiction, she rang the Buttery.
Jan completed the whole Buttery program in the late 1990's. "It was The Buttery that helped me to finally relinquish the "street creature" I'd become. I'm eternally grateful to the place - it gave me the capacity to rediscover those true aspects of myself that were submerged for so many years.... The parts of me that were hopeful and full of zeal and potential for a new life of abstinence and fulfilment.... The Buttery offered me a true foundation upon which to build the life I have today. Thanks guys!"
A new life opened up for Natasha
“The day I left The Buttery was the happiest day of my life, because I felt accepted and loved by a community for the first time. Until then, I’d felt isolated and very much alone with my addiction,” said Natasha 36 who has been “clean” of drugs since completing The Buttery program in early 2008. Now Natasha has a full time job, financial independence, a home of her own and an optimistic outlook.
“But most importantly, I’ve learnt how to derive joy and meaning from simple things.”
“I’d started using heroin at 19 and by 21 I was seriously addicted. I started methadone at 24, was still addicted to it at 27 and facing the prospect of being on it for the rest of my life. Over the years, I went through a series of detoxes and found myself trapped on a merry-go-round of using, detoxing and going back to drugs.”
“I knew there was a way out, but couldn’t find it. I was slowed down by my doctor who didn’t encourage me to undertake rehab and just wanted to keep prescribing drugs.”
Natasha considers addiction to be a product of social isolation and in many cases drug or alcohol abuse is a form of self medication for mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. Natasha said she had hit many “rock bottoms” but Christmas 2006 was one of the lowest.
“I was only 52 kilos and very, very sick. I had $160 left, which I spent on drugs. I was also taking a legally prescribed drug, buprenorphine and wanted to get off. I’d known of The Buttery’s reputation for a long time, so I phoned.”
Natasha said the people at The Buttery were very supportive and told her a place would be available, but first she had to be “clean”. This is because The Buttery is not able to administer pharmacotherapeutic drugs such as methadone or the buprenorphine she had been prescribed.
Natasha entered a detoxification clinic and was able to go to The Buttery two weeks later. At The Buttery I learnt how to connect with myself, how to develop an identity that was not bound up in drug taking. She learnt art and yoga.
“Art was an essential part of the program. I’d never done art before, and it gave me the belief that I could do anything. Yoga was also a great help. Through yoga, I saw a whole life time of anxiety melt away. People at the Buttery would say ‘Look at you, you are high’ and I was. I was high on life.”
“I had learned how to laugh. I noticed how I breathe, how I exist. I discovered my identity for the first time.”