The reasons why people misuse alcohol and other drugs are as individual as each of us. Regardless of your role, every day you can support someone in putting the pieces of their life back together. Do you have what it takes for a career in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) sector?
Craig: When I was thirty, my two oldest twin brothers died through a drug and alcohol misadventure at the age of 22. In each other's arms. So I think the day we buried my twin brothers was the day that I said that I wanted to get into the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Sector. You have to build up a trust with the person. If you've got the trust, and you can maintain that, I think you can achieve some amazing outcomes with clients.
If you really want to make a difference in someone's life, and help them live and become the best that they can be, you cannot find a better center than the Alcohol and Other Drugs Sector. I've been around for 21 years, and I don't see myself ever getting out of this center. I love what I do.
Crystal: I started with a little bit of one-on-one client work, but that wasn't quite working for me, and I started to find my feet in project work. My lived experience supports the role that I do today, because I think I have an understanding of what's happening on the ground with the communities that we serve.
I think one of the biggest things that I advocate for is people coming to work in the alcohol and other drug sector who have a lived experience, and are able to say, "Look, I've been there, and I kind of know the way around this stuff." There's such a variety of roles that are available, so that you can be part of the greater sector, but be kind of doing things that reflect the skills that you have and the passion that you have.
Donna: Bunjilwarra is a drug and alcohol rehab for indigenous youth. A big part of our program is reconnecting them to their culture, so we have out programs. We go and have visits with elders and just remind them how special their culture is.
I have a history of substance abuse myself and decided that I wanted to help others that had been through similar things that I have. I think that they would see me as inspiring, probably a bit of a dork as well.
The most fulfilling thing about my job is after you work with a young person then a couple of months later you'll get a phone call saying, "Hey, just want to ring you and let you know that I'm doing really well and thank you for everything that you've done for me." You can't describe the feeling that you get when you get that phone call.
Nolene: When I first started working in this environment, I was so scared of, not so much the clients, it was more the authority figures that I was going to be working for. You know, I was just used to working bars, pubs.
To have the support of your colleagues is huge, and you get that. I was lucky enough to have compassionate managers who took time to understand me. We even have psychologists that we can go and see if something happens. It's not scary.
People that I'm helping, until I build a rapport with them, they don't know me, by the end of it they call me Auntie Nols. That's it.
Peter: Probably my biggest tools in this job are my ears and listening to what people have to say. It's not about the drugs or the alcohol, it's actually all the reasons around why they use alcohol and drugs. And those reasons are as individual as each one of us and I think that's what continues to fascinate me about working in the field.
It's a bit like helping someone look at the jigsaw puzzle of their life and it's about helping them shift those pieces around to make an alternative picture in their life so that they're moved forward away from their drug use and lead a much more sort of positive life.
I get up everyday and I think, okay, which young person we're working with today and how can I help them out. I think it's a great field to work in. Yeah.
Tim: It is very rewarding. It's also very challenging. Some days it's unbelievable stories of recovery and hope and sometimes it's a little more difficult because they don't make the choices that you want them to make.
Because we're working with such a diverse population, people relate differently to different people. So you want that range of staff. You want both introverts and extroverts. But I think one of the core elements is definitely empathy and being able to relate to people and connect with people.
The staff are also in therapy. It's part of the journey. I've certainly learned a lot about myself that I treasure and value and it's often from the insights that the clients provide. If you enjoy connecting with people in a real and meaningful way, jump in. It's an amazing experience.