When someone has been addicted to drugs since 15, they have a lot of growing up to do in recovery, explains Asher.

Inspired by The Buttery’s counsellors and peer workers, Asher is now driven to use his lived experience to help others in recovery. His goal is to support youth early-intervention programs.

Having been in and out of Melbourne treatment centres throughout his life, the 35-year-old, who spent for 10 months at the Buttery in 2012, says The Buttery’s Therapeutic Community was the only option that could set him on a path of sustainable recovery.

“Heroin was the first drug I used and was addicted for 15 years. I also had a massive methamphetamine habit for 20 years and was addicted to prescription drugs for ten.

“Because I started using when I was so young, I never really developed relationships with any authenticity. Developmentally you miss out. All those years that I was drug affected I was never really there. Now all my relationships are based on authenticity and trust.

“I had a chaotic upbringing with no direction from male role models. After leaving school early, I started using and selling drugs which were easily accessible.

“When I was 27, I was physically in a really bad way. I was almost dead. Spiritually, I declined to a point where was bankrupt. If you continue like that you are going to die. It was a lack of options that finally got me to the Buttery,” he said.

“It saved my life.”

Asher said years of drug use made him extremely isolated. The Buttery’s therapeutic community model was integral to his recovery.

“I learnt the importance of being real and honest with others — how to live within a community and how to be in the world. The group work was absolutely critical.  I learnt how to trust again and how to feel safe in relationships.

“My closest friends were made at The Buttery. All those people are now clean. The Therapeutic Community forced me to be accountable for the first time.  Not only by counsellors, but by peers.”

Asher is about to finish a Diploma in Community Services and has a Student Placement at The Buttery’s community-based rehab program, CORE.

“I try to help as many people I can by walking the journey beside them,” he said.

“Through The Buttery, I have regained physical, spiritual and emotional health. I have really healthy relationships with good boundaries and my connection with my family has been repaired.