News & Events

Father’s story of recovery wins competition

A Warrnambool man who reflected on the “absolute carnage” he was leaving in his path of self-destruction has won the 2022 WRAD short story competition.

The entry `First Light’ by Mark Gavin has won first prize in the competition that followed the theme Change, Challenge and a Brighter Future in Recovery.

“I was living my life like an episode of Jackass,” Mr Gavin admits in his story.

“I would wear my excessive use of drugs and alcohol like a badge of pride, thinking I was some sort of champion,” he wrote. “All the time I was failing to see what wreckage and absolute carnage I was leaving in my wake of self-destruction. My path to a premature death lay before me and I had my foot firmly on the accelerator.”

However, Mr Gavin points to a day when he stopped using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes at the same time. “A few days later I saw the world come into high definition…I got the chance to start over.”

Mr Gavin admits his recovery hasn’t been all “roses and fairy floss” but says there is a beautiful peace and calmness to it, saying the first light of day “glows upon me like a beacon to the future”.

The competition received about a dozen entries, including stories from parents who cared for children with substance use issues and from people who have recovered from their own problems.

Second prize went to `Last Week’, an anonymous entry detailing a series of communications between a mother and son.

“It’s always been about loving unconditionally; never giving up the hope for change, never losing sight of the small things to be grateful for,” the mother wrote.

Third prize was another anonymous entry `The Yellow Card’, a story of hope about a card with a message kept by a father who had been through recovery.

The Paul Jennings award was won by Kayleearne Clyde for her submission `Strength in Recovery’, detailing her five-year addiction to methamphetamines and her three years in recovery.

“If you are thinking about starting your recovery journey, then you have already taken the first step,” she wrote. “Recovery is not something that happens overnight, it is a lifetime journey and something I will continue to work on. But it has been worth it.”

Judges said that all entries had presented emotional and inspiring stories of recovery. “Selecting a winner was a difficult task. All the writers deserve special recognition for documenting their brave recovery stories,” the judges said.

The winners share total prize money of $2,500.

WRAD will feature some of the winning stories on its website and will publish a booklet highlighting many of the entries.

For drug and alcohol issues, call Directline 1800 888236, or WRAD 55 645777

Caption: Mark Gavin, Kayleearne Clyde with WRAD Director Geoff Soma and Patron Paul Jennings


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WRAD HEALTH’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.

WRAD HEALTH seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.

The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD HEALTH. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.


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