Addiction is a brain disorder, not simply a lack of self-control and often begins with misuse of drugs or alcohol. The changes in the brain that occur due to chronic use of drugs (like cocaine) or alcohol are long-lasting. In fact, when addiction takes hold, most parts of the brain are changed in some way.
The repeated release of dopamine may help explain why people find it hard to stop using certain substances even though they may know there's a problem developing - addiction hijacks the reward pathways in your brain that provide you with feelings such as happiness and motivation.
Most people often underestimate how serious drug addiction can be and so make bad decisions that jeopardize their health without realizing the possible consequences.
A primary function of addiction treatment and rehabilitation is to provide people seeking change an opportunity to cease the addictive behaviour and identify and address the underlying factors fueling the addiction.
Addiction treatment teams encourage and support individuals and their loved ones who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. The ASV team provides clinical, psychological, peer, recovery and family support options.
The person struggling with addiction usually needs help from family members, friends, and loved ones to deal with the issues that arise after withdrawal symptoms subside. Withdrawal can be a difficult stage of recovery because even if an addict is educated about what to expect, nothing prepares them for it emotionally or psychologically. This is significant because once addicts withdraw from their drugs or alcohol use they will go through profound changes such as sudden mood swings; sleep disruption; physical pain due to the body readjusting itself accordingly; anxiety and depression.
Without the help of qualified therapists and addiction specialists, people often relapse back into substance abuse. These professionals are trained in treating both mental health disorders (such as depression) and co-occurring addictions that make it difficult for a person to recover from their drug or alcohol dependence without professional assistance.
Some research suggests that many individuals with addictive personalities do not have access to effective treatment programs due to factors such as lack of money, education, employment opportunities or other resources necessary because these services can be expensive. The ASV program aims to provide affordable access to evidence-based contemporary addiction treatment and rehabilitation options.
"I love my work. Talking with clients and families, getting to know them, and seeing them recover, never ceases to inspire me. My experience of working within several leading Drug and Alcohol addiction rehabilitation services within Melbourne and across Victoria has provided me with many transferrable abilities. I use my skills, knowledge and life experience to develop solution-focused recovery plans, for the individual and their family and loved ones. Being able to share the hope of positive change and show people that recovery is absolutely possible is incredibly important to me and continues to motivate me to inspire and lead the ASV organisation to maintain our vision of providing affordable, evidence-based addiction treatment and rehabilitation options to all Victorians."
Over the last 14 years, Jason has enjoyed working in senior roles within leading private and not-for-profit addiction treatment, recovery support and rehabilitation services across Melbourne, Victoria. During this time he has seen many people find and achieve sustainable recovery from substance misuse and/or dependence (addiction and alcoholism). From senior support worker through community relations consultant, program director to ASV CEO, he has focused on supporting people and families to change their lives.
"Despite my relevant industry experience and professional training and qualifications, both factors I am incredibly proud of, my greatest achievement by far is my lived experience of the many challenges of chronic addiction combined with finding my way into a sustainable recovery. I am extremely proud to report that on February 25th, 2021 I achieved 16 years of total abstinence from all substances. Over the last 16 years, I have developed a strong sense of self, identified and addressed many of my underlying psychological and emotional issues, defeated my substance use issue and am now more than content with the man in the mirror. Please believe me when I say, addiction is treatable and recovery, more than possible."
Paul has worked in both the private and community sectors within the alcohol and other drug sectors for nearly ten years. Prior to this, he worked within the Federal Government providing and creating support services for Homeless Australians and was awarded an Australia Day Award for this. Paul then went on to work in HR, leading an Early Intervention team that focussed on non-compensable illness and injury in the workplace. The bulk of his clients in this role had serious illnesses: Cancers, HIV and various Mental Health Conditions.
Paul's focus is Dual Diagnosis, both addiction issues and how they couple with mental health illness. Paul understands the complexity that can arise with a dual diagnosis client and the effect it can have on the individual and their loved ones. Paul enjoys working with people with addiction issues, introducing them to a new way of life and providing some psych education and support into mental illness.
His experiences includes working in the KEYS Team, which was a multidisciplinary team made up of mental health workers and clinicians, he has worked in rehabs, has provided addiction and mental health support to companies including Metro Trains, Jemena and the Trade Union Movement. He has written scripts and produced alcohol and other drug/mental health educational material and provided technical editing for literature for addiction.
Along with his professional experience, Paul is a peer worker, in that he has overcome his personal addiction issues and has been sober for ten years. He is also the co-host of The ARC- The Addiction Recovery Cast. His other interests include Stoic Philosophy, International Politics, Shakespeare and the mighty St Kilda City Football Club.
"My professional and personal experience have shown me how to create an effective framework for change, which I have seen work not only within myself but 100's if not 1000's of times. I ask myself and all of my clients to aim low. Aim low on a daily basis, and in 12-18 months' time, your life will be unrecognisable".
Angela is a Masters qualified Family Therapist with extensive experience in the addiction recovery and family support field. For over 20 years she has worked an evidence-based manner with families impacted by a loved one’s alcohol or drug use, developed a number of family education programs used across the state including the creation of educational booklets for families.
"When people are working on changing their behaviours related to drug and alcohol misuse, dependence, alcoholism or addiction, the involvement of those close to them can really help. When families and friends work together problematic behaviour and negative effects can be dealt with more quickly. My experience, and the systematic study of evidence-based research, provide proof, that individuals do better when families are directly involved".
Dr Naham (Jack) Warhaft was born in Melbourne and educated at Melbourne High School. He studied medicine at the University of Melbourne and commenced his anaesthetic training in 1966. He began specialist practice in anaesthesia in Melbourne in 1971 and held senior appointments at Box Hill, Mercy Maternity, Werribee Mercy and Angliss hospitals. In the 1990‘s he became involved in the management of anaesthetist colleagues with narcotic dependency - the Box Hill Hospital Re-entry Program for Impaired Anaesthetists.
He furthered his training in doctor’s health by undertaking frequent visits to the USA and Canada. In 2001 he was appointed as the founding Medical Director of the Victorian Doctors Health Program (VDHP) - modelling it as closely as possible on the North American Physician Health Programs. He ceased his practice of anaesthesia and qualified as a Fellow of the Chapter of Addiction Medicine, RACP, in 2004. He retired from the VDHP in 2007, by which time he had been involved in the management of about 80 doctors with substance use disorders. From 2009 to 2017 he was the addiction medicine physician at Malvern Private Hospital in Melbourne and was responsible for the development and implementation of the medical guidelines, and the overall provision of the medical service. He was a co-founder of ‘Australian Doctors in Recovery’ in 1994, and maintains informal links with his US, Canadian and British counterparts. He is convenor of Victorian Doctors in Recovery, which meets on a regular basis to support doctors with substance misuse issues
Peter Harvey has extensive experience as a registered psychologist and psychotherapist and has worked as a clinician in a variety of settings across the public and private mental health and Alcohol and Other Drug rehabilitation sectors. He specialises insupporting people experiencing challenges related to substance misuse, dependence, alcoholism or addiction, relationship issues, depression, anxiety and early childhood trauma.
Peter has a particular interest in working with clients and families who are experiencing issues related to Alcohol, Drug or Prescription Medication abuse. The therapeutic framework that he employs seeks to increase client awareness and self-efficacy. This includes an exploration of unprocessed emotions and their defence, the identification of problematic thinking and belief systems as well as the role key relationships play in the self-defeating patterns that repeat throughout the client’s life.
Debbie Sesso - ASV Board Member - Secretary
Debbie is an enthusiastic advocate for recoveryand understands the importance of effective, evidence-based addiction treatment and recovery support. As a leader of a family support group, Debbie expresses her passion through her interest in finding ways to help families and people with alcohol and/or other drug problems and addiction challenges.
"It's really great to see how far ASV has come in a relatively short time, I am wrapped to be a part of it all and cant wait to see what the future holds"
Emma Hooper - ASV Board Member
Emma has worked in community health, related government, and private sectors for over 17 years and is a qualified and experienced clinician working in the areas of mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, dependence, addiction and alcoholism. Emma has had previous experience as a volunteer Board Member in the Non-For-Profit Sector. She brings her professional and personal experience of addiction, and commitment to recovery, to the team at Addiction Services Victoria.
Rosa Good - ASV Board Member
Rosa is a communications and marketing specialist with experience in the not-for-profit and education sectors. Passionate about helping others, Rosa is an enthusiastic supporter of ASV and is motivated to ensure that ASV delivers best practice, evidence-based Drug and Alcohol treatment and rehabilitation, family and recovery support, providing all ASV program participants with the very best opportunity for sustainable recovery from issues related to substance misuse or dependence (addiction/alcoholism).
Is recovery possible?
Addiction is a life-altering experience. Addiction can bring out intense struggles and challenges, not the least of which are behavioural changes that transform your entire lifestyle in ways you never thought possible.
Recovery is possible and recovery is achievable. The idea that addiction cannot be beaten stems from uninformed, negative views on addiction.
No matter how desperate the circumstances seem, there are several different paths to help a person recover from addiction; whether it's inpatient or outpatient rehab centers, support groups like 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs, even church groups and grassroots organizations with social efforts aimed at ending drug abuse in the community.
Many people recovering from debilitating addictions find that they need assistance as well as guidance after their initial journey through both rehabilitation and emotional healing has ended. Addiction therapy can offer those struggling with relapse prevention skills or ways to deal with the many triggers of relapse before they happen so people don't lapse or relapse back into addictive patterns.
Some people are fortunate enough to recover from addiction simply by observing the suffering they have created, and decide it is time to address their problematic behaviours once and for all. This process of surrendering through contemplation takes place when an addict realises that continuing in this direction will lead only to self-destruction or the demise of those around them.
Others who have been more deeply wounded require professional care, medication, rehabilitation, counseling and aftercare support in order to heal their damaged nervous system which has become overactive as a result of prolonged drug use. The length of time required for any individual to realise change varies in duration depending on a person's needs, but once completed clients maintain the ability not only to celebrate holidays with family members and friends without struggling through cravings for drugs or alcohol
After detox, your physician may recommend further abuse treatment programs or medication depending on the severity of your addiction. Depending on how long you have been abusing drugs and alcohol, rehabilitation can last for a few weeks to over a year. The process is designed to disrupt behaviors that are rooted in psychological and emotional problems associated with drug use.
"The most important thing to know about addiction to drugs and alcohols that once a person is motivated to seek positive change, recovery is then possible. Effective drug and alcohol rehabilitation services provide a genuine opportunity at positive change." - Jase Bowman - CEO - ASV Drug Rehabilitation Services 2021.