We have the power to make a difference with a residential rehabilitation centre

DRUG and alcohol abuse destroys lives daily. It could happen to anyone, any family.

One Warrnambool mother detailed her heartbreaking experience of watching her son slide into a cycle of drug use, crime and then periods of rehabilitation before succumbing to the temptation of drugs again.  And the cycle repeated, again and again. Despite her efforts and those of authorities, he is in jail.

“His children now will go again without their dad,” she said.

She fought to help her son but she was fighting with one hand tied behind her back.

The south-west has a range of services to help those with drug and alcohol abuse issues. But the missing link is a residential rehabilitation centre.

“I want there to be a drug and alcohol rehab here for people like my son who can't stop by themselves,” the mother said.

“We have always felt that a dedicated rehab program could have helped him change his life for the better, one that enables a person to return for help and stay as long as they need to make it happen.”

The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre says Victoria has 230 residential rehabilitation beds. But users face six to 12-month waiting lists for beds and “virtually no” south-west clients secure them. The reality is that people with issues are not getting access to the services they need that could turn their lives around.

The Standard has long advocated a prevention-first approach to reduce drug addictions. Various youth and health organisations are taking positive steps.

The steering committee behind the push for a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation facility in Warrnambool. Picture: Christine Ansorge

The steering committee behind the push for a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation facility in Warrnambool. Picture: Christine Ansorge

But what do we do with older people with drug abuse issues? We lock them up in crowded prisons where drugs are rife.

As a community, we can’t give up on those willing to seek help. Anyone, everyone can make a positive contribution to society. 

Drug abuse issues are a major health concern and cost to communities. If there is a way to reduce the suffering, the emotional and financial costs, history shows we do everything we can. Yet with drugs, we don’t. Maybe that’s because we believe some people choose a life of drugs. No one aspires to have a drug addiction. 

We need to establish a residential rehabilitation centre in the region, it could be the solution individuals and families crave. We need to act swiftly, lobby governments and raise capital for a building because, as a community, we have the power to make a difference.