Today we launch Advent of Hope, a collection of stories to highlight client courage, resilience and perseverance in 2022.

We begin with a young person who turned to Alban Place as they battled addiction, mental illness and other challenges. This is their story.

Alban Place is part of Centacare’s Integrated Youth Substance Misuse Specialist Service which provides a range of specialist supports across South Australia for young people aged 12-24 who are living with substance issues.

Before I was admitted to Alban Place, I was a complete wreck.

I had been struggling with suicidal depression, anxiety, anger issues and addiction for about 13 years.

At my point of absolute desperation, I went to Drug and Alcohol Services SA as I couldn’t get myself clean.

I had become physically dependent on alcohol – to the point of extreme withdrawal after a couple of hours – and was using all sorts of drugs daily.

I felt trapped in my addiction and was told by doctors, family and friends that I would die if I kept up my behaviour. Honestly, I was okay with that.

My counsellor seemed surprised with my level of use at first, which didn’t give me a lot of hope, but he insisted that I could get sober and told me his own journey.

This was my first introduction to fellow addicts that have gotten clean, and I started to feel less alone in my illness.

He was kind and helpful and never minded when I didn’t show up for sessions or arrived heavily intoxicated – he just wanted to help.

When I arrived at Alban Place, I was shaking, skinny and pale. I couldn’t focus and I was in a great deal of physical pain.

The staff at Alban Place were supportive and reasonable with their expectations of such a broken addict and tried their best to accommodate my stay.

My mental health was rapidly declining as I got sober. I was having outbursts of anger and rebelling against rules. Nevertheless, the staff tried to understand and comfort me in my times of anguish.

I tried to stick to their timetable and listen to their suggestions as best I could, and slowly I started to get something out of having a routine. My eating improved and my mood was becoming more stable day by day.

Being around other addicts who wanted to be sober was a new experience for me. I made some good friends and finally felt understood in my insanity.

Alban Place brought me to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and then I asked to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) too. I go to these meetings every day now and I’ve never had such a great community to support me.

Alban Place is only an eight-week program so obviously I didn’t come out “fixed”. I still have a lot of work to do on my recovery, but my stay gave me the tools and support networks to further my recovery when I left.

Going home was very challenging and I’m finding my old people, places and things to be very hard to work with or be around, although my family is very supportive.

I am 87 days sober as I’m writing this and I still have cravings and very bad days. The difference is that I can go to a meeting now or talk to someone at Alban Place. I can call someone from the meetings or do some of things they suggested to get through in the moment.

I don’t have to hide from my emotions anymore, which is dreadful sometimes but also a very freeing experience. Unprocessed grief, shame, anger and sadness sometimes sweep over me but I know now that it’s okay and normal.

Alban place isn’t a fancy hotel but it’s a comfortable place to get sober and try to learn how to stay sober, as NA and AA say: “Just for Today” I will stay sober, “Just for Today” I will be happy, “Just for Today” I will adjust myself to what IS and “Just for Today” I will strengthen my mind.

If I follow the simple yet difficult advice I’ve been given, one day at a time, I believe my life will improve one day at a time too.

Thank you Alban Place for putting up with my argumentative, angry, pessimistic self for eight weeks.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity you gave me. Much love to all the staff, I miss you!