New strategies to cope

LOVED ones of those addicted to ice and other harmful substances have been able to help each other through a support group which began in Warragul last year.

A Warragul parent founded the group after attending a drug forum in the town in September.

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said the support meetings were a way to deal with her own son’s ice addiction, while also helping others.

“I guess the main reason (for meeting) is when you’re faced with trying to support someone with an addiction you can feel isolated and very alone, and there’s guilt and shame associated with it,” she said.

“So by coming to a group it gives you a chance to speak with others sharing the same journey.

“Hopefully it, one, helps people to understand (addiction) and, two, gives them some strategies to give them some control of their own life.”

She said parents and loved ones of addicts often got so caught up in supporting them, their own issues and lives fell to the background and it was just as important to address their own behaviour.

“It saved my sanity. Through the support group and education that I received it made me understand the disease of addiction, but also… giving me strategies that changed my behaviour,” she said.

“Because my behaviour has changed I’m in a better position to help my son.”

She said the new group was growing steadily and invited residents from across the Latrobe Valley to attend.

The group meets at the Uniting Church on Sutton Street, Warragul on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month.

“We do say though to try and come at least half a dozen times… so that they’re getting the most out of it,” the parent said.

“Mainly parents do come, but husbands, wives and older siblings attend, but it’s not recommended for siblings under 18.

“People also ring concerned about friends.”

She added the meetings were not exclusively for loved ones of ice users, as alcohol was still the most widely abused drug, and there were also attendees of those abusing other substances, including over-the-counter drugs.

The next meeting of Substance Abuse Support, which is affiliated with Family Drug Help, is on Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm.

A guest speaker from Families Anonymous will share her story of her son, who is now 13 years into his recovery.

SAS will also attend the ice forum and community information night to be held at Lowanna College auditorium in Newborough tonight from 6.30pm to 9pm.

Guest speakers include senior Gippsland Magistrate Clive Alsop and members of the Victoria Police Clandestine Lab Squad.