Sean and his sister went into foster care from an early age due to his parents’ own drug addiction. He tells tales of neglect and a lack of love during the nine years he spent in care. When he was old enough, Sean ran away to be with his parents again. It soon became obvious to him that his parents were still taking drugs and that they were also selling drugs. Before long, Sean started smoking cannabis and by age 16, started to experiment with ice.
To support his drug addiction, Sean turned to a life of crime. As the problems mounted, Sean could see no way out but to end his life. On the day Sean decided to jump from the bridge, the police officers in attendance told him that he had his whole life ahead of him. When they finally talked him into not taking his own life, they sat with him for a while, bought him some food and then took him to the local hospital. Sean stayed there for a couple of weeks and the hospital contacted our Youth & Family Services Team for their support. Rene de Sant’Anna, our senior Youth clinician, met Sean and listened to his story. The rapport between Sean and Rene is evident – they laugh and joke together and there is a level of respect between them.
“Rene is the first male role model that I have had. He is like a father-figure to me”.
When working with young people, Rene says that listening to them is important, as often they feel like they have never been heard before. Rene says that he will always tell young people:
“You don’t need a reason to use drugs; you need a reason NOT to use drugs”.
The work of the Odyssey House Youth and Family Services team aims to reduce (or cease) a young person’s alcohol or other drug use and to minimise the harms caused by any current use. The program also helps young people to manage other issues like mental health, education and legal issues.
Sean still meets with Rene regularly and they discuss the challenges that Sean faces each day. Since Sean has moved out from his parents, some of those challenges come from visiting them, because they still take drugs. While he still loves them, Sean minimises his interaction with them and ensures that he maintains his own boundaries. It is only a year ago, that Sean gave up ice but he is committed to not going back to that lifestyle again. With guidance and support from Rene, Sean is taking the opportunity to start afresh and rebuild himself into a different person than he was a year ago.
Despite the strong investment from Government in our programs, they do not fund all the work that we do. With support from people like you, we can continue to help young people like Sean. Please make a donation today.
Dr Stefan Gruenert
*Names have been changed to protect the individual’s privacy.