Red Shield Appeal: Sally’s addiction turnaround highlights Salvos’ work and services


The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal aims to help people like Sally, by fundraising for vital social services. Picture: Will Russell d482827
The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal aims to help people like Sally, by fundraising for vital social services. Picture: Will Russell d482827

“I LAUGH now. I smile now more than I ever did on drugs. I have more good days than I have hard days and on drugs, the hard days were really, really hard.”

Two years ago, Sally had hit rock bottom.

Living on the street in the grips of drug addiction, she turned to The Salvation Army’s crisis centre ‘The Beacon’, which referred her to the Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre in Gosnells.

Now, Sally has her life back on track and as she edges towards graduating from the centre, credits it as “life-changing”.

She said she had battled substance abuse for most of her life and it fractured the relationship with her family.

“I’ve done over 30 years of alcohol and drug abuse. I’ve had good jobs, I’ve worked with the police, corrective services for seven and a half years and with my meth use, I lost everything, to the point where my family said ‘no more phone calls, no more coming to our house,’” she said.

“I was couch-surfing; for about a week I was sitting up all night in the streets and waiting til morning and then trying to rest and access Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Services and they introduced me to The Beacon.

“I’ve attempted suicide twice; I was placed in a coma for four days and woke up in Royal Perth Hospital.

“The day I walked into The Beacon, I was carrying around six EpiPens of insulin, saying ‘if I can’t get my life together, I’m not doing this anymore.’”

Sally said the centre’s holistic approach helped her fight her demons and turn her life around.

“It’s not just about telling drug users to stop using drugs, it’s about why we started using them, dealing with emotional issues and about teaching us how to be become aware of what our bodies and mind is telling us,” she said.

“Most of the support workers here have been through some form of drug or alcohol use themselves and most of the councillors have experienced it through family members or themselves, they understand.

“In my first couple of weeks, I wanted to leave and being able to have people who can relate and understand was brilliant.”

Things are looking up for Sally, who plans on renting her own place when she leaves rehab, studying psychology at UWA and repairing her broken relationships.

“I’ve got three beautiful kids, who have been raised with an addict as a mum and one who still isn’t talking to me, but I have hope I can rebuild that relationship. I haven’t had hope in my life for a long time,” she said.

The Salvation Army has launched its Red Shield Appeal to urge West Australians to fundraise for places like The Beacon and the Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre ahead of their Doorknock weekend on May 26-27.

The charity needs to raise $500,000 over the next few weeks to continue to support its vast network of social services, which help people like Sally.

You can volunteer or donate for this year’s Red Shield Appeal by calling 13 72 58 or visiting salvos.org.au.

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