"I was a wreck to be honest, a lot of anxiety," former Coast drug users tells his story. Martin Sykes

From addict to nurse, how rehab saved Coast drug user

A SUNSHINE Coast nurse credits his time at a Nambour rehab facility as the catalyst for beating a 15-year amphetamine and heroin habit.

The man, whose identity has been protected, entered Najara therapeutic community at the end of 2010 after moving from Sydney to live with a family member on the Sunshine Coast.

His drug of choice was methamphetamine, but heavy drinking was the tipping point for his family member to threaten to kick him out.

He rang Najara at Nambour and was admitted after about three weeks.

"I was extremely difficult to live with," he said.

"I was a wreck to be honest, a lot of anxiety."

His admission came as a relief.

"I had never done rehab before and I didn't know what I was signing up for."

He recalled his first role as being either toilet cleaning duties or laundry duties.

"I think I got to mow the lawns a couple of times for which I felt pretty privileged.

"Being a part of a small community was challenging but being given some responsibility was where it all began."


He spent Christmas inside the facility but said it was not too much of a struggle.

"Once I got in, the feeling of relief that I was in a safe place I guess dominated any other feelings."

His family had long been concerned about his drug use.

Their support during his time in rehab was critical.

"My family on the whole were really relieved I had finally gotten honest with myself and decided to do something with my drug problem.

"The relief I felt for my family really gave me a lot of strength through Christmas."

He settled into a full-time role of being a driver for other patients and gave up smoking cigarettes.

He also put on about 12kg.

"There is a saying 'you put down the spoon and pick up the fork'."

"It's generally a good sign of recovery."

The main struggles he had included living with people from a variety of backgrounds.

"Having another addict challenge you on your behaviours or on your language or on your verbal delivery would sometimes be confronting.

"I guess there were a couple of times when I did consider packing my bags and going back to Sydney."

But as he neared the six month mark, his head cleared.

"Staying in the program for the full six months was really beneficial because that's when I really started to grow.

"I was able to give back some of my support and tools I had learnt in rehab myself."

He has now been clean for five years and enjoys a solid career.

"If you are contemplating change that's a really good place to be at in your life."

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