Fen has turned her life around and is drug-free since undertaking The Buttery’s Maintenance to Abstinence program in 2014.
“I am in a good long-term relationship. Neither of us has used drugs for two-and-a-half years. I’ve got heaps of friends. I can be open and honest with my family…. I used to hide everything from them. I’ve completed two Certificate 4 courses and I will start a Masters degree next year.”
Fen said she started using drugs at 12. By 20 her drug taking was well out of hand. Her doctor, who told her that rehab “probably wouldn’t work”, prescribed an opioid substitute. The doctor said that she would need to take the drug for the rest of her life. Although Fen thought it strange that one addictive drug was being replaced by another, she said she thought the doctor would know best.
At a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting Fen heard that is possible to live drug free without being “handcuffed to opioids”. She tried to stop using drugs on her own, but couldn’t. Eventually, at 27 she attended a 28-day rehab program. She left the program drug free, but soon started using again.
“The 28 days was not long enough to address all the issues that lead to my addiction. Giving up drugs brought up so much emotion. I went back to the doctor and she put me straight back on opioids.”
The people at NA said there was a way to become drug-free. It would mean going to a long-term program. But I didn’t want to leave my partner of eight years, Sam for so long.
“But I knew I was going to die if I kept using. So when a place became available at The Buttery, I joined the program.’
“The rules at The Buttery mean you are not allowed to have contact with your partner or loved ones for the first part of your stay. This is to be sure you can make clean break from your previous life and potentially negative influences.
“The counsellors told me that if I completed the program successfully, I would be a new person. In many cases people who complete the program do not stay with their partner.”
Sam and I had both used drugs together and returning to him would have put my long-term recovery in jeopardy. It was while I was at The Buttery that I learnt that Sam had given up using drugs too. Now we have both been clean of drugs for two-and-a-half years. Our relationship has entered a new dimension.
“My dream of living drug free and doing something with my life has come to pass. After I complete my Masters in Social Work, I will apply my new knowledge and experience of recovery to helping others. I want to work with youth, women or homeless people to help them lead a better life.”