Salvation for Addicts

Salvation for Addicts

Salvation for Addicts

Yesterday, in the picturesque Tallebudgera Valley, Russ Hinze and 80 guests walked a path across a bubbling brook, over large river stones and through a grass covered paddock to officially open the doors to a centre that could mean “salvation” for many Gold Coast drug and alcohol addicts.

The official opening of Australia’s first Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Service represents a major offensive in the war against drug and alcohol addiction on the Gold Coast.

The centre is one of only 35 in the world and based on the L. Ron Hubbard Method of drug rehabilitation, the aim of its staff is to restore the mental alertness, the creative urge and the overall zest for life that accompanies being totally drug-free.

According to the centre’s executive director Jenny Kiggins, Narconon is not the usual drug treatment program.

“It is totally drug-free and uniquely different,” she said.

Jenny has devoted the past 11 years to fighting drug abuse in the community, following personal experiences which almost cut short her life.

“Drugs snipped seven years out of my life. I did nothing. I did nothing. It was like I didn’t really exist,” she said.

Jenny blamed peer group pressure for introducing her to drugs, at the tender age of 15.

During the following seven years Jenny tried numerous drugs and regularly smoked marijuana.

The more drugs she tried, the worse the habit became until finally in her early 20s Jenny took a trip on LSD than could have cost her the ultimate price – her life.

“It was as if my body was on the ground and my mind was on the moon, and they just couldn’t get together. I thought I was going to die. It was the biggest fright of my life,” she said.

It was through the assistance of her best friend, Kerry Robinson, that Jenny was introduced to the Narconon program in Sydney. That introduction marked a major turning point in Jenny’s life.

“I began to realize what I was missing in life. I had virtually spent seven years living in a haze but the Narconon Program changed all that,” she said.

Photo Caption: Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Centre executive director Jenny Kiggins overseeing the physical exercise part of the program.

Jenny joined with Kerry to open a Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney’s exclusive Vaucluse area and together spent several years helping young teenagers, some as young as 10, fight off their “habits”.

“It was so easy for these young kids to get drugs. We had one 13-year-old who had 500 LSD trips. It was so sad to see what drugs and alcohol was doing to these young children,” Jenny said.

When Kerry left the centre to have a family, Jenny took over as director and with no funding but an insurmountable supply of determination, carried on with the fight against drug abuse.

Then, four years ago when financial demands to continue the service were putting it at risk, Jenny received a phone call from Kerry’s father, the late Tony Robinson, offering his assistance in setting up a Narconon Centre on the Gold Coast.

After attempts to locate the centre in Currumbin Valley failed Mr. Robinson set aside a 2ha (5 acre) property nestled in the beautiful and serene Tallebudgera Valley.

A strong supporter of the Narconon program Mr. Robinson paid for the $120,000 construction of the 17-room centre and then asked Jenny to take the reins of the project, which boasts a 75% success rate.

“Our ultimate aim is to see a drug-free Gold Coast,” Jenny said.

The centre, staffed by 13 full and part time workers, many voluntarily, can cater for up to 10 live-in clients plus any number on a daily basis.

Perhaps one of the best examples of the centre’s potential effectiveness to fight drug and alcohol abuse on the Gold Coast, come from one of its first clients to take up the option to live-in, whom we refer to as Robert.

Robert had been on drugs for 10 of his 24 years. Peer pressure led him to taking the first puff of marijuana joint and plunged him into a decade of drugs, depression and alcoholic addition.

A potential career in first grade rugby league disappeared as the young Gold Coast teenager’s “habit” took hold and the initial light-hearted smoking of pot turned into a daily shot of heroin, one of the most addictive drugs available.

“I lost a lot when I was on drugs,” a much healthier and happier Robert said this week.

“I had to sell my car and motorcycle to pay for my habit. But, more than that, I lost my self esteem and the respect of my friends,” he said.

“When you are on drugs you feel as if you are in another work, nothing means very much or is important, except getting more drugs.”

Robert had no difficulty getting drugs, claiming they were readily available in many areas along the Gold Coast, particularly Surfers Paradise and Kirra.

“For the last three years I’ve been on heroin, it’s the most addictive and expensive. Many people just like smoking pot and you can buy joints or foil for about $20 each. Bet, once you get the habit, you are history,” Robert said.

The Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Centre was suggested to Robert by a friend.

“I didn’t think I had a problem but my friends started ignoring me and told me to get help,” he said.

Robert, still shaking and feeling ill from the morning’s shot of heroin, staggered into a Burleigh Heads phone booth and contacted Jenny Kiggins at the Centre.

“I didn’t turn up for the appointment the following day but four days later phone again and Jenny picked me up straight away. I don’t know where I would have ended up if she hadn’t been so quick,” he said.

After two months on the Narconon program Robert is fit, well and eager to return to first grade rugby league.

His list of friends has begun to grow once again and his sister, with whom he hasn’t spoken in five years, is now visiting him regularly.

Robert was one of the “lucky” ones.

He lost his best friend from school in a heroin overdose in Kings Cross recently.

“He was only 23 and was coming back to do the program, but died before he made it,” Robert said.

Robert now wants to join Jenny and her dedicated team in their fight against drug abuse on the Gold Coast, where he claims there is a major problem.

As part of his three hours of physical work on the Narconon program Robert has established much of the new landscaping around the centre.

The program also includes drug-free withdrawal/detoxification, drug education, communication and confront skills, the Hubbard detoxification program, re-orientation to the environment and individual counselling.

Photo Caption: Narconon course supervisor Truus Woods with one of the clients, well on the way to shaking her drug habit.

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