Many families affected by crystal methamphetamine, also known as ‘ice’, have expressed concern at the lack of accessible treatment in Victoria. People seeking drug rehabilitation services often face a difficult dilemma: wait several months for a place in a publicly-funded program or spend tens and thousands of dollars to attend a private clinic.
Melbourne’s outer south-east suburbs will soon have a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation service with the introduction of UnitingCare ReGen’s Catalyst program in Narre Warren. ReGen announced on Wednesday that the first round of the program will commence on 9 November.
Catalyst is a free, non-residential program that operates five days a week and is ideal for people who cannot attend residential rehabilitation for various reasons. This provides an opportunity for participants to practice new skills and knowledge acquired from the program when they return home every night.
This new six-week program is funded by the Victorian Government’s ‘Ice Action Plan’, announced earlier this year. Under the plan, the state government will increase the availability of free, evidence-based treatment services for people experiencing methamphetamine and other drug dependence.
UnitingCare ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said he is delighted ReGen can offer its services to residents in Melbourne’s outer south-east suburbs.
“It has been heartbreaking to hear the stories of families who have put themselves into debt to pay for private rehabs when there are free, evidence-based services available,” he said.
“The new services funded in Narre Warren and other locations around Victoria through the government’s ‘Ice Action Plan’ will provide an additional 500 treatment places and make it significantly easier for people to get help when they need it most.”
Narre Warren is situated in the City of Casey, which has one of the highest rates of crystal methamphetamine-related ambulance attendances in Victoria. According to alcohol and drug research centre Turning Point, there were 70 ice-related attendances last year and 500 alcohol-related ambulance attendances.
The new program will be based at a Connections UnitingCare site in Narre Warren. Connections UnitingCare CEO, Angela Forbes, welcomed the announcement.
“We’re very pleased to be able to support this program. It’s a great opportunity to expand the range of supports available for the many families within our communities affected by alcohol, methamphetamine or other drug use,” she said.
“The renovations of the program space are now nearly complete and we’re excited about the commencement of the first Catalyst group on 9 November.”
The Catalyst model combines Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions, counselling, goal-setting exercises, nutrition classes and recreation activities to help participants change their behaviour. It does not impose sanctions on participants who lapse during the program. This encourages participants to maintain motivation and learn relapse prevention skills.
Shannon Bell, manager of the Catalyst program, said he is looking forward to working with the first group of participants in November.
“We know that, when provided as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, evidence-based, non-residential rehabilitation programs can achieve sustained benefits for participants, their families and the wider community,” he said.
“We’ll be working closely with treatment providers and other services in the South East to establish co-ordinated pathways into the program.”
Sarah, a mother of two young boys and former ice addict, recently shared her story with Crosslight. Through the support of ReGen and her family, she successfully overcame her methamphetamine dependence and is now working with ReGen to help other people tackle their addiction. You can read more about her journey here.
If you, or someone you care about, would like to be part of the Catalyst program, visit the ReGen website for more information or call 1800 700 514.