Lea was born into a drug den and grew up surrounded by drug takers in his early years. When he was four he was adopted by his grandparents because his mother wasn’t able to take care of him anymore. He lost his mother aged 9.
“That’s when I lost my way in the world. I had a good upbringing with my grandparents but from a very early age I started taking drugs and drinking alcohol.”
Since his childhood Lea has a fear of being hurt as a consequence he used class A drugs, and alcohol as a ‘mask’. Ultimately he adopted false characters to deal with these issues and retain a sense of control. Lea found it difficult to maintain relationships as his need to be loved would overwhelm the other person then he would have an overwhelming need to rubbish the relationship before it had a chance to go wrong.
One day Lea had an injury and he lost his vision for a period of time, which forced him to change jobs; he then became a night worker. Around this time Lea also lost both Grandparents within 6 months of each other as a result his alcohol intake increased to the point where he was constantly drinking, day and night, in order for him to sleep. Eventually, he lost his job, his relationship, and found himself often sleeping rough on Mitcham Common.
“This was the lowest point for me and I gave up all hope. At that point I decided to take an overdose and woke up to find myself in the hospital. I decided then that I needed to change myself…”
He went through several groups and services to aid his initial recovery and get his addiction under control; until he found an Equinox residential program at Mitcham Park he did not stop drinking. After he completed Mitcham Park he still felt lost, he wanted to commit to sobriety but wasn’t sure and kept dithering.
He was then referred to Western Lodge where he initially remained ambivalent to his recovery. At Western Lodge Lea has had an opportunity to discover who he is as a person, his childhood behaviours and beliefs were challenged and Lea began to understand that he does not need to pretend to be someone else – that he is an “ok guy”.
“It’s the first time I’ve actually found myself in life. With Western Lodge’s structure and guidelines I’ve managed to completely make a turnaround. I have come to the point where I wake up happy most mornings and thoroughly enjoy life. It feels like I have a real purpose now.”
Last year Lea had the opportunity to volunteer with another charity organisation where he now is in full-time paid employment as a ‘Cover Manager’ for 12 stores and also helps to train other managers.
“Western Lodge helped me to identify my strong and weak points, and then helped me build my strong traits and diminish my negative traits, all in a swift fashion. They taught me what I can be without drugs and drink. I am looking towards the future and I want to continue working with the current organisation as it is something I really enjoy”.
Lea is also in a long term relationship for the first time and finally feels he can take it forward one step at a time.
Reflecting on his own situation he makes clear,
“Since I started changing my life, things have started changing for me – what I am giving out seems to be coming back…”
Staff at Western Lodge have said they have been privileged to walk along side of Lea through his remarkable journey.