It was starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Olivia had lost count of the number of times she had been through the detoxification (detox) process, an important but challenging step in recovery from addiction.

The detox process (which can last up to 10 days) involves removing substances from the body and safely managing a range of physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal including anxiety, nausea, increased blood pressure, muscle pain and more.

Olivia was determined to overcome her dependence on substances. She used every ounce of willpower to stay abstinent after detox for as long as she could.

But like any stubborn habit, it can feel almost impossible to break without a change in environment.

Olivia's Story

Born and raised in Perth, Olivia is a vibrant young woman. On the weekends, she’s part of a local Surf Lifesaving Club and enjoys listening to music and spending time outdoors.

The 23-year-old grew up with deep scars from life and relationships at home. Not knowing how to cope with intense feelings of despair and anger at times, substances gave Olivia a momentary break from it all. It developed into a dangerous addiction, taking over her thoughts and energy.

She checked herself into a detox unit, multiple times until Olivia finally recognised that if she was going to win this battle, she’d need a change in her environment.

Determined to take control, Olivia arrived at one of Mission Australia’s residential rehabilitation facilities for young people.
"What I’m most proud of is recognising I did need to go to residential care, and detox wasn’t enough for me personally. It’s definitely been difficult, but it’s been worth it.” - Olivia.

After graduating from the program, Olivia felt like she really had a chance at a future free from dependency and addiction. It was the first time in a while she felt empowered and full of self-confidence.

Olivia connected with Joe, a case manager at Mission Australia’s Drugs and Alcohol Youth Services (DAYS), shortly after.

DAYS is a Mission Australia service that helps young people recover from alcohol and other drugs dependencies by providing a range of services like case management, counselling and more.

Joe was there to encourage Olivia on her journey forward, reminding her to not look back on the progress she had made.

"During her time at DAYS, Olivia has started engaging in psychology support, family therapy and is part of our transitional housing program so she can receive continued check ins and supported accommodation,” -Joe, Case Manager.
“The young people accessing DAYS are some of the most resilient and amazing young people you will ever meet. They never fail to crack a joke and leave you smiling. It’s nice to see how they develop and grow in the three months they live here,” says Joe.

The two have a friendship built on trust and support. They joke about Harry Styles, chat about Netflix shoes and comment on Joe’s fun socks. To Olivia, Joe feels more like a mentor than a case manager.

“They have really taught me a lot of skills to handle the emotions and how I’m feeling around my use but also just skills to deal with everyday life. That’s really going to help me in my future,” says Olivia.

DAYS is making a difference

Joe started working at Mission Australia, motivated by a passion to see young people recover from dangerous addictions.

“I grew up around some of it and saw friends go through similar struggles,” says Joe.

His personal experiences fuel his ability to connect with young people on their recovery journey in authentic and powerful ways.

“It’s the people who motivate me.” he says. “Being able to be a small part of a young person’s recovery is what keeps me coming to work every day...I love working with young people to solve any issues that come up.” 

“Services like DAYS offer a safe space where young people can work on their own recovery goals and feel supported in progress. A lot of young people know that when times are tough and they need someone to support them, they can count on the team at DAYS to ensure they can move through the distress and come out on the other end with the tools they need to cope in the future.”

“Without services like DAYS, there would be many more young people and their families that fall through the cracks of mainstream services.”

Olivia recently scored a training role with the emergency services as a first respondent.

Learn more about DAYS here.

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help.

Subscribe for the latest news

Related news and stories

Read about what we’ve been working on, our stance on important social issues and how you make a difference to vulnerable Australians' lives.

Our founding purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'