News & Events

FIRST LIGHT – short story competition winner


By Mark Gavin

Slowly the blurriness between sleep and waking flows through my body as I hear a small commotion at my bedroom door. I inhale a conscious breath and instinctively know that the wind is gentle and offshore. I hear a quite “dad” from the bedroom door. “Yes” I reply. “Come on we are doing a dawney” was the response. Two of my boys had got up early to surf with me to celebrate my 50th birthday. I said “awesome, I will be down in a minute”. I gave my partner a kiss on her forehead and said “see you in a few hours” I felt her gently squeeze my hand and heard a quiet “happy birthday handsome, have fun and be safe”.

Standing on the beach with the first rays of light, I said to the boys “off you go, I need to fix my leg rope, I’ll catch up”. Truthfully, I just wanted a quiet minute to watch them paddle out, implanting proud and joyful memories into my mind. Standing there watching the reflections off the swell lines start too form, it created a reflection of my own life. My life was not always filled with such beautiful moments like this day had gifted me, in fact 10 years ago my story was very different.

I was living my life like it was an episode of Jackass.  My existence and actions were executed by the mantra of `if you are living on the edge, then you are taking up too much room`.  I had sipped, sculled, smoked, snorted and swallowed all kinds of mind-altering substances in the fruitless pursuit of happiness, acceptance, approval and self-worth. I would wear my excessive use of drugs and alcohol like a badge of pride, thinking I was some sort of champion.  Excuses as to why it was normal or even deserved behaviour would always flow from my mouth. 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.

There are many steps on the road to recovery but the one step on my path which to this day is prominent in my mind is the bluestone step leading into a dimly lit hall. I remember pausing at this step and just looking at it, knowing this had to be a turning point. I crossed over this step alone and completely broken. Seeing MS take my mother’s life over the first 11 years of my life had not broken me. Two failed marriages and several attempts on my own life had not broken me. Court appearances had not broken me and even barely seeing my own sons had not broken me. Finally, I just had no more bullshit sorry’s left in me.  It’s the sorry that so many people who misuse substances know all too well.  It’s the genuine regret for your actions the night before. It’s the `I won’t do it again’. It’s the well-intentioned promises to be a better person.  All of which ultimately fail as you end up in another filthy public toilet using or having another secret longneck. Back down the rabbit hole for another trip to sorry town.

I don’t have a specific date to refer to, but I do know that my recovery started the day I crossed that bluestone step and stopped using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes all on that day. It was a few days later that I saw the world come into high definition for me.  All the colours of the world literally got brighter and like respawning on a computer game I got the chance to start over on this level of life.   My recovery has not always been roses and fairy floss. Life still throws me some shitty situations but there is now a lack of drama and conflict. Funny how love has filled the void that was within me. I now feel it from those around me and radiating out from within.  There is a beautiful peace and calmness within the bosom of recovery.  

First light of the day used to highlight all the sordid little actions hidden in the darkness from the night before. Now standing here on the beach basking in the first light of the day watching two of my sons paddling out, it lights up endless possibilities, joy, gratitude and contentment. The golden hour glows upon me like a beacon to the future.


Our Vision & Values

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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