Perseverance pays off for RFDS clinician

Perseverance pays off for flying clinician

Mental Health
Andrew House, an Alcohol and Other Drug clinician with the Royal Flying Doctors Service, uses his story to help others.

Andrew House, an Alcohol and Other Drug clinician with the Royal Flying Doctors Service, uses his story to help others.

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In Andrew House's job as Alcohol and Other Drug clinician with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) he engages with a community who live in a patch that covers 640,000 square kilometres in the state's arid west - about the size of France.

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In Andrew House's job as Alcohol and Other Drug clinician with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) he engages with a community who live in a patch that covers 640,000 square kilometres in the state's arid west - about the size of France.

He flies in and out of isolated communities along the Darling River where he holds clinics about alcohol and other drug education, prevention, intervention, support and counselling.

"I engage with the communities to see where they are at," Andrew said.

When asked what he loved about his job, he replied: "That's a huge question, how can I sum that up in a sentence?"

"It's the opportunity to provide help for people and it's a privilege to be able to offer that help," he said.

"I should be dead 100 times, the fact I'm not is remarkable.

"But to be able to use my history and my whole life as a tool to help people is great."

GUIDE: Read the guide here.

GUIDE: Read the guide here.

Andrew describes the time between the age of 14 to 22 as "self-destructive" because he used alcohol and other drugs.

After seven attempts at rehabilitation, he tried for an eighth time and succeeded when he was 22.

"I went seven times for someone else," he said.

"At that time I had enough, I gave in and stopped fighting and wanted to take responsibility for myself."

He said the first time he went to rehab was when he was 20 and, although he had met people he "felt understood him", he had reservations.

"I had interventions along the way and kept learning but by the eighth time I didn't want to go back to my old life again and was prepared to do whatever it took to stay clean," he said.

In 1985 he stayed for 19 months at the rehabilitation centre before he was "spat out into the real world".

Initially he went to 16 self-help meetings a week.

"I'm still involved in self-help groups, although I don't go to 16 meetings a week," he said.

Andrew went from resident at a rehabilitation centre, to nine years later being a staff member helping other people who had been in the same situation.

"No one understands you better than the bloke you sit next to at rehab," he said.

In 2001 he started working with corrective services where his role involved being a welfare, alcohol and other drugs officer.

After 16 years, he was transferred to Broken Hill corrective services and was in the job for a year when he got a phone call from the RFDS, where he has been since November.

"I use my own experience of what I have learned and what I know," he said. "I suppose I have come full circle."

His message to those suffering from addiction is: "You are okay and you not alone".

"I feel a responsibility to give back what I have been given," he said.

"Yes, it is possible to change, and it gives people hope that there are other people who are doing well.

"We are not separate from the normal rules of how society works. You learn from someone who has been there before you ... you just need to keep practising so you don't forget."

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