“ ResetLife doesn’t just give you four months then go ‘right you’re on your own!’”
– GLENN, FORMER RESETLIFE CLIENT
There’s a buzz in the air at the TaskForce Youth Hub today. Two people are graduating from the ResetLife program. Their certificate and graduation teddy bear – with messages of encouragement from other participants – lie ready, and donuts and pizza are on the way. The other members of the program are chatting and playing pool and it feels more like a party than a day rehabilitation program. “For a lot of our young people this could be the only time they have graduated from something, so we make it special” says Amanda, our ResetLife Youth Coordinator. “As well as celebrating the person completing the program, the graduations provide encouragement to all the other participants still completing the program.”
ResetLife is an alcohol and other drug day rehabilitation program, funded by the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network. For 16 weeks, clients participate in formal treatment, including recovery education, group counselling, family inclusive sessions, and social support. After this, 32 weeks of continuing care supports them to live free of drug and alcohol harm. “Continuing care is where our graduates can get together with our peer workers” – workers with their own lived experience of AOD misuse – “talk things through, and do something fun,” says Amanda. This ensures that they’re still connected to support and have positive social outlets, helping them continue their recovery journey.
TaskForce delivers an adult ResetLife program in Cranbourne and a youth program at our Youth Hub in Moorabbin.
No ResetLife client is the same, but there are always co-occurring complexities in addition to their AOD use. Many have a mental health diagnosis, and many are victim survivors of family violence. Some are homeless and many are or have been involved in the justice system.
Maysam, our ResetLife Cranbourne coordinator, credits the program’s success to the supportive environment the program fosters. “The clients’ consistency and commitment to coming three times a week means that really strong relationships are formed within the group, and with our staff who are there to support them”, she says.
Former ResetLife client and now staff member Glenn agrees – “it’s that embracing, you come in and it’s like a little community.”
This is further strengthened by involving participants’ families in the program. “Our relationships and connections are so vital to our wellbeing”, says Maysam. “It’s really important that loved ones are involved in and understand the process of recovery. That way they can support a loved one’s journey, and begin to mend relationships that have been damaged because of drug and alcohol misuse.”
Glenn says that when he was in the program, “For me to think about anything other than drugs or alcohol was really difficult and to explain that to a loved one is really hard. Taking my family to a session they’d sit there and go ‘right this is what’s happening’.
They’re on a journey as well.”
Amanda agrees, “Family involvement helps create a shared understanding of addiction and provides education to the whole family. By providing a safe space to talk fostering communication, we see ResetLife bringing families back together.”
Beyond the three days of formal treatment, we also arrange complementary therapeutic and social programs for the clients in the program, including SMART Recovery (an AOD support group), art therapy, group fitness, and the occasional outing. These groups “are a massive part” of what makes the program works, says Glenn. “They go hand in hand with successful recovery. ResetLife doesn’t just give you four months then go ‘right you’re on your own!’”
Glenn’s journey to the program “started in rehab. I did 10 weeks in rehab and then went into ResetLife.” Glenn now supports others through their recovery journeys as the ResetLife support coordinator. “I absolutely love it, I feel privileged to be a part of other people’s journeys, that they’ll allow me to be part of their journeys.”
For Glenn, workers with lived experience mean that treatment is “not just talking and not being able to relate. The peer worker could translate it into a way I could understand. There’s nothing better than hearing someone else is going through or has been through what you’re going through and they’re out the other side.”
“Our peers are the meat in the sandwich,” says Amanda. “They are the real substance between the clinicians and clients, helping to make sense of the theory and providing hope and understanding on a deeper level. Our peer workers are tangible examples of change and what is possible.”
Glenn feels enormously privileged to be able to support others as a peer worker. “I take it very seriously but at the same time I bring a lightheartedness to it because I know it’s very full on. Getting drug and alcohol free is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your entire life, but the most rewarding.”
“I have a job in something that I’m really passionate about – like super passionate about – I think it’s one of those things where you go like ‘oh now I know why I’m here.’ As hard as it was to go through addiction for 25 years, I can support people, I can help.”
After the ceremony, our two graduates are grinning, holding their bears in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. Thanks to ResetLife they’ll now be able to start realising their true potential.