Substance dependence was not the only problem clients encountered. Many clients suffered from multiple types of social disadvantage; unemployment was high (52.5%), a substantial proportion of clients had some form of criminal justice problem (35.3%) and their risk of homelessness (5.9%) was well above the national average. Familial circumstances were complex too; about a third of clients with dependent children were not living with their children.
It takes courage to seek alcohol and other drug treatment given the stigma attached to having a substance use problem and to be in treatment. Despite this, many clients in the GSC have received more than one episode of alcohol and other drug treatment in recent years. This suggests clients have substantial motivation to seek help, although they may struggle to stay in remission from problematic alcohol and other drug use. For some clients, residential rehabilitation may be required.
WRAD Director Geoff Soma, says,
“People who have struggled to overcome not only drugs but a serious health problem deserve a better deal and to find some hope to hold on to.”
We envisage a 20-bed facility in or near Warrnambool. It will be staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week. Clients will be housed in private bedrooms, and there will be a common room, recreation space, and counselling offices, in addition to kitchen and dining rooms and bathrooms. The grounds will include produce gardens to foster service sustainability and recreation facilities for skill development.
WRAD HAS COMMITTED $600,000 TO THE CAPITAL COSTS OF THIS PROJECT.
SO FAR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY HAS RAISED $600,000 FOR THE LOOKOUT RESIDENTIAL REHAB CENTRE
Specialist alcohol and other drug treatment is effective and brings substantial savings to society. While Warrnambool and the Great South Coast have a range of outpatient services, in addition to hospital-based detoxification, there is little or no access to the most intensive treatment type, namely residential rehabilitation. As noted by key stakeholders from the Great South Coast in recent consultations ‘residential rehabilitation doesn’t exist’, ‘it is the major gap in the system’.
This important service gap was, in fact, operating as the ‘Bridge program ‘ in Fairy St in Warrnambool for 14 years until 2008 when funding was removed. This residential facility accommodated up to 8 clients.
In 2016 WRAD contracted Dr Lynda Berends, a health services researcher, to explore characteristics of alcohol and other drug clients in the GSC and their access to residential rehabilitation treatment. Lynda’s analysis of service data showed there were 662 clients who sought treatment in 2015-16. Almost all of these clients were severely drug dependent and their most common primary drugs of concern were alcohol (43.9%), cannabis (26.2%), and amphetamines (24.2%).