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Cape York, Qld

A safe place is helping people to recover from substance abuse

Creating a safe place has helped a man in his 40s on the road to recovery from alcohol and drug dependency in Townsville.

The Salvation Army Withdrawal Management Service (WMS) in Townsville has been partially funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN), with participants provided with a secure and calm environment.

Withdrawal Management Team Leader and registered nurse Julie Cobb said the service provided a safe place “to unpack emotions, provide psychoeducation, and explore options for recovery”.

“We see this as a great way to foster autonomy and connection, both important factors in the therapeutic alliance,” Ms Cobb said.

“Often conversations about where-to-next and planning for discharge occurs and confidence and hope flourishes.

“As participants explore options, they consider what is right for them and voice their needs and wants they gain a sense of self. Taking this therapeutic risk leads to greater confidence and a focus put on the future.”

Participants are also encouraged to engage in art therapy facilitated by the service’s registered nurses.

Ms Cobb said recently a 48-year-old man experiencing chronic homelessness and significant alcohol and methamphetamine dependency called WMS in a vulnerable state requesting an emergency admission for withdrawal.

He was known to the service with four prior admissions over the past three years.

“The man was feeling hopeless, at the end of his tether and could not think past the end of day, let alone plan for his recovery,” Ms Cobb said.

She said a phone assessment was conducted, along with a health risk assessment, and it was determined that a rapid admission was required.

A taxi collected the man from his location, and he was admitted to the WMS.

The man completed a seven-day medicated withdrawal and during that time he engaged with staff, reflected on previous withdrawals, and rehabilitation, and learnings.

“He explored his sense of self and the notion of institutionalisation and the comfort zone and what that meant for his recovery,” Ms Cobb said.

“Motivational interviewing techniques were used, and this man was able to set short, medium, and long-term goals as well as the steps required to achieve those goals.

“As a result of all the supported conversations, contemplations, and goal setting, another rehabilitation program was identified that best suited his need.”

Ms Cobb said WMS staff worked with the man to support a warm referral and he was now well along the way of his recovery journey.

NQPHN uses Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) funding to commission a range of services across our footprint to improve access for individuals to a range of evidence-based interventions regarding substance use that is tailored to the needs of each individual.

Services such as the WMS provided by Ms Cobb’s team work with a range of other health and community services (including GPs, mental health providers and Hospital and Health Services) to better integrate health and wellbeing treatment and referral pathways for people experiencing comorbid health conditions.

The Townsville WMS delivered AOD withdrawal management services for prevention and harm reduction for both individuals and the wider community and support the cessation of substance use.

It provided an inpatient service and care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with admission and intake into the services four days per week.

The service is comprised of 10 beds which created a platform for people to build their lives in ways that are meaningful and purposeful.

Our priority areas

Population Health
Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs
GPs and other Primary
Care Professionals
First Nations Health
System Integration