May 28, 2021
I can’t Believe it.
By George Webster, third place in the WRAD short story competition
Alarm bells ringing loudly, Nurses and Doctors rushed to his ward, and soon the Crash cart arrived, the doctors working feverishly on bringing him back to life. I watched this battle and the remarkable dedication of the medical team as they recovered this young man in his second drug overdose in as many months.
How was it possible for this eighteen-year-old young man to be so heavily addicted to drugs? It didn’t matter what he took, he was going to try everything just to deal with the pain he was going through. It must have been his parents’ fault that he was like this, where were they, didn’t they care, did they boot him out of home, what was his sin that was too big for his parents to accept, too many questions, no answers, who did he belong too?
Why did he just disappear from home one day, why was he drawn to this drug dependent community? They were now his family. Dean embraced the daily binge drinking, drugs were laid on, and the girls loved him, why would Dean want to leave this happy and disparate group? Dean was a clever guy and quickly learned how to propagate a crop of marijuana in sheds under lights, he was a champion student and was able to dry and prepare the weed for sale, he became a valuable asset to his new Community.
Dean could remember names, and he made friends very easily, his reputation was growing quickly, people liked him because he was very resourceful, if you wanted anything, call Dean; he’ll get it for you. He did stuff for plenty of people, and knew when to call in a favour, he was good, and he quickly became a respected driver too. Dean learned how to drive on the family acreage as a kid, slipping and sliding his car like a pro, Dean gained great ability and confidence behind the wheel of the car he was driving, he was good. Did you want something delivered, give it to Dean, and you know it’s done? Want to get somewhere quickly, call Dean he’ll get you there alright. Your car broken down? Call Dean, he’ll fix it for nothing. Dean was the “fixit guy”, nothing was too hard for him, after all, they were all his mates, weren’t they?
I forgot to mention that Dean would contact his parents when he needed help, needed a break, needed to recover. He would arrive home gaunt, ghostlike, spent, asking for food or money, and specking out the house for what he could steal to sell for more drugs, this happened so often over the many wasted years. Dean would say that his Drug Community was his family now, but he kept coming home to his “safe zone”. The food was good, and it was regular, and once sated, and, with fresh clean clothes again, he would disappear into the night. Dean had become a “night person”, he slept through the day and met his mates in the night, he was a “couch surfer”, putting his head down wherever he found himself, his life was not only back-to-front, but fully upside-down and inside out and simply wrong, but it was his life.
How many times did we his parents receive a call in the early morning hours asking whether we knew a young man called Dean and whether he was our son? too many times he was found beaten, overdosed or so emaciated that the skin on his body hung loosely over his bones, this bag of bones was our son, and we couldn’t save him, but, we again visited him in hospital, waiting until he was released from hospital to bring him home. Thirteen wasted years in the drug-soaked wilderness, what could we do as parents, we loved our only son, and were desperate to see him overcome and recover from this painful and debilitating disease.
Dean was raised in a Christian home, where he had learned good family values, we had placed our hope in Dean’s ability to respond to those family and Christian values and work his way back from the dark abyss of his dependance on drugs, and his reliance on his wild and irresponsible Community of addicts, his peer group, those who accepted him just as he was, because he was useful to them.
How could anyone imagine how desperate life would become for Dean’s family, when his dad had a terrible Industrial accident that would change the family’s life forever. Two years later, dad is still in terrible shape, his recovery was slow, his mind fully challenged, his mobility limited in a way that tethered him to slow movement, his recovery was terribly slow, Dad needed lots of help. And, the Cavalry finally came.
It was years after the accident before Dean’s next visit brought with it a promise to stay with Dad and help him get better. Dean was a new man, his commitment to help Dad never waived, Dean sat with his Dad, was quick to anticipate Dad’s needs, and was quick to stop his Dad slipping away to the tree that he’d identified to ending his own life, such was Dad’s trauma. Who in their right mind would spend hours each day sitting just watching chooks as they pecked, scratched and ate their way through the day, and yet, all this was therapeutic for Dean’s Dad?
The most amazing truth cannot be ignored, Dean in all this, left his Drug dependent Community, everything he’d known for thirteen years, and, in staying to help his Dad, and with medical help, Dean went “cold turkey”, and had finally but powerfully won his battle against his drug dependance.
Dean is now truly his own man, no longer the victim, but an active and vibrant man helping so many, Dean has a strong Community consciousness, and is quick to offer many the help they need as he continues to forge a life as a man committed to his own growth and self-development.
I’m a proud Dad, a father to a remarkable man. Dean has been clean for seventeen years. To me, he is a real champion, a giant of a man.
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The WRAD Centre’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.
The WRAD Centre 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. 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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