Foundation House is helping tradies come to terms with mental health and addiction. Tommy sits in a room full of tradies and tells them all about how he used to drink methylated spirits with Coke. The mixer was to stop him throwing up blood; he’d keep a schooner of the concoction next to his bed at his parents’ house, where he lived at the time. Tommy was almost 40 then, and had been in and out of the construction industry for half his life. “I worked in construction, and I was a functioning addict from when I started when I was 18,” he explains. “At the start it was always pot. Ecstasy pills. Campbelltown coke. And then after that drinking came into it because it’s just part of the culture. “It’s construction: if you can’t drink you can’t be trusted and be part of it.” Tommy is a resident at the Foundation House rehabilitation centre, located in Sydney’s inner west. The 28-day residential program has been working with people like him for the past 18 years. A not-for-profit charity, Foundation House doesn’t get any government funding, but is instead supported by the construction industry itself. The centre receives a number of its referrals directly from the worksite via the Building Trade Group (BTG), through which they get most of their clientele. Sitting here on a Wednesday night, it’s hard not to think there’s something wrong with Australia’s construction industry culture. There are close to 80 men in this room: some of them alcoholics, some [...]
Pelvic power, happier hormones, mental wellbeing – those are some of the focal points of this year’s Women’s Health Week (WHW). The first week in September has been dedicated to women’s health since 2013. It was founded by not-for-profit organisation Jean Hailes in a bid to encourage women to put themselves first and to think about their health and wellbeing. A different health topic will be focused on each day from September 3 to 7. No topic is off limits, the aim of the week to remove the “elephant in the room” which is why the WHW logo is an elephant. “We know women can be so busy taking care of others they often fail to find the time for their own health,” Jean Hailes executive director Janet Michelmore said. “The week is a good reminder for women to put their own health at the top of their to-do list.” More than 60,000 women are expected to take part in more the 1500 events around the country. There are already more than 25,000 women registered to receive free health content via email. “By signing up you’ll receive free health tips, recipes, videos, podcasts and more, aimed at inspiring you to live a healthier life,” Ms Michelmore said. Get involved with the week by hosting or taking part an event during the week. For more information about the week, go to: www.womenshealthweek.com.au. Alex Kalliris Psychotherapist
© TheBigSmoke.com.au I have some thoughts on being an addict, people’s perception of it, and what you can do for people who are suffering on a daily basis from a disease that actively wants to kill you. I am thirty-six-years-old. On Friday I will have nine months completely sober. That is the longest stretch of time I’ve had clean since I started using and abusing drugs almost two decades ago. I started with pot, moved on to cocaine, upgraded to pain pill, and graduated to being a crackhead and a heroin junkie. There is and always will be constant debate about whether one chooses to become an addict or if one is predisposed. From the thousands of people I’ve met who also suffer from this malady over the years, the ones who still use, the ones who, by the grace of a truly powerful force, are clean today, and ones that are no longer with us, I can tell you from my perspective that no one chooses to be an addict. There is a chemical imbalance in my body and I react differently than “normal people” to drugs and alcohol. Once I take that first sip, puff, or snort, I switch a flip that opens up a hole bigger than the Grand Canyon inside of me and a voice that sounds exactly like my own tells me to fill it. Fill that hole until it’s overflowing. Fill it, the voice promises, and you will feel whole. You will feel like you matter. [...]
For the first time in history, Facebook is allowing users to manage the advertisements they see on the social networking site. Trialing since September last year, Facebook has implemented a simple tool on their site to allow users to block advertisements that include alcohol. Alcoholic triggers can be all around us in everything we see, but with the largest social networking site in the world – we can now filter these out. Participants will be able to block alcohol related content for 6 months, 1 year or permanently on their feeds, allowing news feeds to be less saturated with alcohol-related content. For those struggling with addiction, it’s difficult to see adverts that show us that you can only have fun while drinking, or only watch the footy with a beer. Removing these ads allows us to create a different culture throughout our own social media – one that doesn’t include the need for alcohol in day-to-day living. We will always be faced with difficulties and triggers, and this is not to ‘hide away’ from them - but if you can control what you see on your own social media page, why would you not want to remove them? Below is a ‘how-to’ on how to manage these advertisements Step 1: Head to https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/ Step 2: Scroll down to ‘Hide Ad Topics’ Step 3: Click ‘Alcohol’ Step 4: Choose your preferences and save
David Atkin is the CEO of Foundation House a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation facility established to support mental and physical health within the construction and health services industries and spoke to Michael Pachi about the help they provide. When you think of construction workers, the stereotypical image is of tough, outdoorsy types who bond over a few beers – but the reality is that those who work in the industry are plagued with the same insecurity, fear and pressure as many others. How different is our reality to our perception of a construction worker When we think of perceptions we talk about men and women who are physically strong and we sometimes minimise the demanding environment that these guys work in. we fall into that trap where physical strength is mirrored with emotional strength and resilience and that’s where the barriers get blurred. The men and women are strong, but they’re vulnerable just like the rest of us. What are some of the problems they face? Working in the industry, it’s challenging. They face fatigue, they work long hours, 6 days a week under stress to meet deadlines. The environment itself is outside and in constant motion, in all-weather types. It’s a robust environment and sometimes fatigue plays a role. What about the drinking culture? We find ourselves on a slippery slope – the culture we want to address is drinking at lunch time, going to the pub, then going back to work. The industry has been looking at that culture for some time. One [...]
Andrew's video of his time at Foundation House. Watch the rest of Andrew's story below and to #SupportYourOwn.