The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program has helped people to break free of addiction for more than 50 years. Major David Twivey understands this better than most—it saved his life.
Few people know the highs and lows of addiction like Major David Twivey. The manager of Townsville Recovery Services in Queensland was once a successful real estate broker with a debilitating heroin and gambling addiction that almost cost him his life.
‘My grandmother had left me money in her will and I was gifted with insight to make a profit. So the money was no problem initially. Marijuana use became daily and then heroin was offered to me. I became addicted instantly,’ says David.
Costing him up to $2,000 a day in 1988, his habit wasn’t only jeopardising his health, it was damaging his relationships.
‘Drugs became what I lived for. I finally got so low [on money] that I stole from my parents. They had had enough and reported the theft to the police.’
Suicidal and at rock bottom, David was referred to the William Booth Bridge Program. After detoxing in Sydney, he moved to former rehabilitation centre, Miracle Haven in Morisset, NSW. It was here that his life changed forever. Not only did he overcome addiction, but he found God.
‘The staff at William Booth House in Sydney encouraged me to see how God could help me stay clean from drug use and to realise the purpose God had for my life,’ he explains.
‘Once [through the program] was all I needed. I found I could stop after having a spiritual experience, knowing that God loved me and forgave me, and now wanted me to work for him,’ he told Pipeline.
He became a Salvation Army officer soon after his rehabilitation, and met his wife Beth during training. Referring to her as the ‘saint’ to his ‘sinner,’ they have gone on to work extensively with the Bridge Program.
In the past 20 years, David has managed three recovery centres in New South Wales and Queensland—including the place where he found freedom, Miracle Haven. Today, he and Beth work together, David as a manager, and Beth an area officer in northern Queensland.
‘We can often underestimate the control that addiction can have on a person and a simple “stop doing it” just doesn’t work,’ says Beth. ‘That is why I support the commitment of the Army to the whole person for the whole journey. It’s not always a quick fix—it’s doing life with a person over a long period of time often through relapse, disappointment and relationship issues.’
Acknowledging that addiction can affect all people of different ages, backgrounds, and social economic statuses, Bridge centres offer various services across the country. Available for people over the age of 18, some centres cater for men and women separately and together, while others cater for women and children. There are indigenous specific centres in Mt Isa and Normanton, Qld.
‘A common misconception is that the person struggling with addiction is an awful person. We put labels on people very easily. We are often fearful of the unknown or people struggling with things that are different to what we struggle with,’ explains Beth.
‘Providing a safe, structured environment where people can distance themselves from people, places and things that are contributing (not causing necessarily) to the issues being faced [is important] as is a good length of time from their last use of alcohol or other drugs and gambling.’
In the past year, more than 450 people have been assessed by the three residential centres in Townsville, and 202 have been admitted.
Reputable due to its holistic focus on the person, not just the addiction, the Bridge Program in Townsville provides rehabilitation from gambling, alcohol or other drugs through stints of three months, six months or 10 months, as well as providing out-patient services and detox clinics.
Connecting clients with other expressions of The Salvation Army, such as local corps (churches), they also note that a healthy, vibrant faith community and access to medical, legal and mental health care are helpful.
It’s one thing to advocate for a program, it’s another to have lived it. And David and Beth can both attest to the lives changed through the Bridge Program—both personally and professionally.
‘I love the people I get to connect with who are in recovery,’ says Beth. ‘I keep in touch if we or they have moved away. We share their joys, getting married or having children or getting jobs or finishing a degree. We also share their sorrows—they know they can ring or contact us when there’s been a relapse or [have experienced a disappointment] of some sort.’
Now married for more than 25 years, David and Beth continue to live out the hope David discovered all those years ago. Addiction and recovery is never tidy, but through their own experience they provide people with the care that saved his life.
‘The disease of addiction relapses can be part of recovery,’ David says. ‘My faith believes that God gives a second chance. There is always hope.’
And that would be their message to you: there is always hope.
‘God gives us all an opportunity to “be made new”,’ says Beth. ‘Connect with a local Salvation Army expression. Take one step in a different direction and see what God might do.’
For more information on the Bridge Program, go to salvos.org.au/recovery.