RecoverOZ - Melbourne addiction recovery




Our Residential Rehab Recovery Program is Community based Suburban Living in well maintained houses which provide long term rehab and stability.

We call the program Urban Rehab.

The following are included in the weekly rental charge of $300 for a place in a rehab house. Social security and rental assistance is applied for, so clients don’t stress about finding the money.

Included is

  • The Drug and Alcohol Case worker for all houses
  • Case management from our specialist Addiction Doctors
  • Separate bedrooms for all clients
  • All food and outgoings, i.e. utilities
  • Rehab Program Workbook including living skills, hygiene, money management etc
  • Ongoing Program Handouts
  • A full suite of educational Multimedia (DVDs) resources used as teaching aids.
  • The establishment of links with Employment Agencies.
  • Specialist teachers / facilitators for the Rehab Program i.e. grief, trauma etc.
  • Linkages for 12 Step groups / Smart Recovery, Grow groups etc.
  • Employment Service and Training Programs (if required)
  • Linkages to Legal Aid where issues can be dealt with whilst in residence (avoiding relapse)

What happens now that Detox is over?

The most often asked question from people who detox from drugs and / or alcohol is "What's next?" or "Is this It?". Every addicted person can stop using or drinking. The trick is to stay stopped. Very often people report that life is now so boring. I have no hobbies. The day is too long. What they mean is that they have been so used to living on the raw edge of chaos and unmanageability, and now that life is so normal, they have difficulty living in their own skins. They go back to creating their chaotic lifestyle, so that they remain busy and keep themselves away from themselves.

Right now, the court system is log jammed with people (mainly in their 20s) who are severely addicted to ice and there is next to no opportunities available to them to show them a way out of their addiction and into a life of meaning and purpose.

An addicted head cannot make a non-addicted decision. People need to be in a place of safety, which buys time for drug hunger to cease and thus give people the ability to make a non-addicted decision. Treatment cannot proceed until this phase is complete.

What is needed is a Continuum of Care, and I will describe this next.

A suite of services, within the same organisation, and which includes recovery from addiction, employment and housing, can mean the difference between attempting recovery and remaining in recovery.

This continuum of recovery will be a seamless transition as follows.

  1. Withdrawal and Detox Service
  2. Structured Education, Rehab Recovery Program in place of residence.
  3. The Employment Service and Training Programs (if required)
  4. Legal issues to be dealt with whilst in residence (avoiding relapse)

The Continuum of Recovery

This idea for a Continuum of Recovery came about because of an enquiry made from the Employment Service where they said that they had large numbers of clients with drug / alcohol problems and mental health issues. This chaotic lifestyle where many of their primary problems are not addressed, means they cannot hold down jobs, and are continually recycling themselves through a range of social services. One of the most obvious links in Drug/Alcohol Recovery based services is the relationship between recovery from addiction, employment and housing. This proposal aims to set up a complete systemised approach to this problem

A suite of services within the same organisation, and which includes recovery from addiction, employment and housing, can mean the difference between attempting recovery and remaining in recovery. Every addicted person will tell you that they can stop drinking and / or using, in fact they probably have done it many times. The trick, as they well know is to stay stopped. When a person leaves rehab, they generally report being on a "pink cloud." This sheer joy at being drug and alcohol free for the first time in many years, soon disappears when they hit the realities of life. This is the period of recovery from addiction where challenges and feelings are difficult to handle. The individual recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism may still be experiencing cravings, symptoms associated with withdrawal or feelings for the first time in sobriety. Each day is a series of highs and lows, usually accompanied by depression, frustration, hopelessness, anger and resentment. These feelings develop barriers like low motivation and emotional, medical and mental problems. It is these barriers that prevent addicted people from safely meeting their needs related to housing, employment, nutritional needs, social needs, transportation, etc. Some people become so immobilised by this inability to function that they just shut down. All rational thinking goes out the window and they will then revert to the only coping mechanism that they know that works to stop the head noise. They crave the feelings of numbness and oblivion that they know so well. They pick up a drink or a drug and go back to square one.

Addiction, Rehab and Continuing Care

Since 1998 Recoveroz has been involved in a number of projects involving Community Houses, sometimes called halfway houses. This term is not relevant here because the Community House forms part of the actual rehab process itself. As well as doing rehab, the residents take responsibility for management of their home and each house is self-managed, is run on a democratic basis and is underpinned by a number of key principles and basic rules. These rules are based on many years of experience of what works both here in Australia, and overseas, to help individuals recover from their addiction. While an individual benefits by helping others through sharing of individual recovery experiences, so too will these houses benefit through learning the basic skills of personal management, household budgets, self-care etc. These houses will have, as its primary goal, the personal goal of living a drug and alcohol free lifestyle along with the living skills needed to do that. Because these houses will follow a standardised system of day to day living and operation, there also exists a common ground for people to learn from each other. A common system of rules amongst all residents will range from the day to day operations such as maintaining financial integrity through weekly reporting through to expulsion of residents who relapse. There will be a range of living problems ranging from personality conflicts to keeping a house clean. However, living issues will be dealt with on a day by day basis through healthy communication, household meetings and regular group work.

This is what makes this model of rehab so different. We don’t depend on taking people off to rehab. We do the rehab in the same place they live in.

Evidence strongly supports the idea that continuing care including extended aftercare to at least 90 days is the single most important part of any structured treatment program. Unless a full Continuum of Care is developed, which should be 3 months to 1 year, then many clients will have a serious relapse which will eventuate in re-entry to detox. Breaking the cycle of addiction is probably the most difficult thing a human being will do in their lifetime. Ask a smoker who has kicked the nicotine habit and they will tell you that it was a landmark event in their lives. Recovery is not linear. It is full of starts and stops and sometimes requires many attempts. It is important that any system of support, whilst mindful of addictive behaviour, also acknowledges this fact and is supportive instead of punitive.

The major cause of relapse is a failure to follow through on treatment and their continuing care. Most people will run back to rehab to "fix themselves" all over again. It's not rehab they need, it is the ability and the structure to follow through on a recovery plan. Just like any medical condition, recovery from addiction takes time, patience and a singleness of purpose. This is all provided in a support group. I tell people that if they want to know what it is like to be hit by a hammer, to go and ask another nail. This is why self-help groups work so well. Addicted people need to fill the huge periods of time they have on their hands otherwise their heads will ALWAYS go back to wanting to feel "comfortably numb."

Support Groups

The drug and alcohol field for the most part, has an almost complete misunderstanding of the power of 12 step groups. These groups comprise the single most successful modality of recovery anywhere in the world today. It is estimated that over 20 million people have recovered from all sorts of addictions throughout the world. The drug and alcohol profession is just not educated into the mateship and non-judgemental support that is offered in almost every suburb in Melbourne. People who share similar circumstances and interests join many different types of community groups from woodwork classes to disability groups and yet there is a total misconception and prejudice in my own profession about what these groups do. The fact is, ongoing support and continual re-enforcement, is vital and support groups of any kind do exactly this.

Rehab Recovery Program in places of residence

So, how do we help addicted people start this journey? To repeat again, we do the rehab in the very place they will live in for a minimum of 12 months. This model will work by a "Recovery Hub." This will be a cluster of houses in close proximity which can be used to do some rehab work during the day. One of the houses will be a much larger house than the other three, and during the day clients can all meet together to do rehab work. Recoveroz has a number of real estate agents working for us to obtain suitable housing. Interestingly, some of these real estate agents get good response from owners because they can give an absolute cast iron guarantee that no drugs, alcohol or parties will happen in houses. An interesting paradox when one considers the use of housing. Through time, we can replicate this process in many areas across Melbourne, building hubs of recovery when needed.

This system of long term supervised and secure residential treatment will have a huge impact in reducing the number of people who are being recycled through the courts because of lack of suitable support systems. Part of the work will also to create a system where services are packaged together to determine what the client needs, what barriers exist, and how community-based support can help. It is of vital importance that the transition between detox, rehab, housing and job search is seamless.

This does a number of things.

It gives people friendship and support. One of the greatest threats to the sobriety of a recovering person is loneliness. Many people have lost families and friends. Loneliness and self-pity soon lead such individuals back to alcoholic drinking or drug use.

  1. It does not isolate people in a remote rehab and then have to re-introduce them back into the community. From Week 1, they will begin a daily rehab program, and at the same time, will go to self-help groups at night (or during the day) This creates an immediate alliance between people in medium to long term recovery to get to know clients and vice versa.
  2. It will be very inexpensive. For little more than a rental fee, clients can live there, and pay most of their rent through their unemployment cheque. Many families face huge financial stress with years of bailing out a family member, paying off drug debts, paying for rehabs and so on.
  3. All of their court business (if required) will happen whilst in the house. After a court appearance, they go straight back to their house with all their supports intact.
  4. The clients will all be linked to a Job Network. They will also be required to do 1 day a week volunteer work for a charity of their choice. This fosters a mindset of giving instead of taking. If they gain full employment, this will cease but will still live in the house.
  5. They can rebuild relationships with family who will be encouraged to visit. A counsellor will available if any family counselling needs to be done.
  6. They will learn the basics of good housekeeping, hygiene, money management and tolerance with having to live with each other.
  7. All additional specialists that a client needs to engage with, will be catered for. Clients will be taken to see their psychologist, corrections officer or whatever and there will be no broken appointments.

Urban Rehab Model of Care

Urban Rehab

Clients will all receive a substantial workbook and a ring binder which will contain all materials required for the program. The workbook will be utilised during the time people are in the house and program, and additional handouts, workbooks and any other additional material used in the program are included in the cost of accommodation/rehab.

The following will be presented to clients as they enter the house and the program. All are included in the weekly rental charge for the house.

  • The Drug and Alcohol Case worker for houses
  • Urban Rehab Workbook
  • Program Handouts
  • A full suite of educational Multimedia (DVDs) resources.
  • The establishment of links with Employment Agencies.
  • Services of Recovery Mates
  • Any extra ancillary teachers / facilitators for the Rehab Program
  • Linkages for 12 Step groups / Grow groups etc.

Finally, this. If the proper tools are provided, especially in the case of people in the justice system, a mix of intensive counselling, housing with strict conditions applied, all tempered with the discipline of the justice system, then recovery from addiction is not only possible, it is probable.

Many thousands of people in the community who go about their lives quietly, who hold responsible positions in the community, and who make a difference, one person at a time, will testify to this. It is high time that the justice system and the drug and alcohol professions started to listen to how these people did it.