“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.”