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Looking forward to a clean Christmas

14 May 2020

Looking forward to a clean Christmas

Hayden and Valena, participants of The Salvation Army William Booth House Recovery Services Program, are looking forward to spending Christmas sober with their families this year.

Christmas this year will look very different for Hayden, Valena and hundreds of other Salvation Army Recovery Services participants and graduates, who will spend the day clean and sober, many for the first time since their early teens.

Twenty-year-old Hayden, a current participant of The Salvation Army William Booth House in Sydney, grew up in a loving family, but his party-drug use became more regular when he was out of work about two years ago. “I lost a lot of friendships from it because I just didn’t talk to anyone,” he says. “Using [drugs] was my main thing to do and I wasn’t focusing on my friendships.”

He says he was nervous entering The Salvation Army Recovery Services Bridge Program and it’s been a confronting experience, but a good one. And he’s thankful to be able to take leave to spend Christmas with his family.

“Christmas this year will be different to me because I will be spending it sober for the first time in six years. It’s going to be a very big eye-opener for me, but I’m excited about it.”

A mother of two young boys, Valena says making the decision to leave her family in Bourke, western New South Wales, to participate in The Salvation Army Bridge Program at William Booth House in Sydney has been hard, but worth it. “I’ve been there for about three months, I’m reconnecting with my family, I feel a little bit proud of myself – I’ve come this far!”

Growing up in a loving home, she describes herself as a little bit of a ‘rebel’ and started dabbling with alcohol and drugs in her teenage years. “There’s not much to do and there were no opportunities for young Aboriginals out that way. Now there’s a big change ... but when I was growing up, we didn’t have that.

“I didn’t realise that I had a problem until a few months ago. I always thought that I just did drugs and it didn’t ever cross my mind that I was a drug addict. I thought I had it under control ... but over the past 10 years, it really took a big impact on my life.”

She says being in recovery has helped her find herself again: “My self-confidence is back, my honesty. All the things I lost in the drug addiction I am starting to regain all of that.”

Valena has been in regular contact with her family over the past three months while at William Booth House and she can’t wait to travel home to be with her children for Christmas.

“Christmas for me this year is going to be a blessing. It will be the first time clean since I was a teenager; I just can’t wait to go home for Christmas to spend it with my family and my babies of course!”


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