Through the Salvation Army’s Streetlevel Program, David and Vanessa not only found help with addiction—but also found each other, writes Naomi Singlehurst.
David and Vanessa have a very special bond, but not one that most couples share. Both husband and wife were addicted to the drug ‘ice’ (methamphetamine).
“We both lost our first families because of our addiction,” says David. “So we really cherish what we have now and don’t take anything for granted.”
Before ice, David was married with two sons.
“The first time I tried ice was with a couple of guys I worked with,” says David. “They were younger than me and using the drug socially. It didn’t seem like a big deal—smoking this stuff in a pipe. But before I knew it, I was addicted. It happened so quickly and so easily. I lost everything: my family, my home and my job.”
After a drug-induced breakdown, David was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
“I had many dark moments,” he says. “I realised the pain I’d caused. I understood the disappointment and embarrassment I’d caused my whole family.”
Upon his release from hospital, David had nowhere to go.
“I just got in my car and started driving,” he says. “I had no idea where I was going. I left everything I loved behind.”
David was living on the streets of Brisbane before he found not only a bed at The Salvation Army, Pindari Services Spring Hill, but also support that focuses on transformation for the person. David was able to access a recovery-based mental health program, and a transitional accommodation community on site.
“I basically did my detox and rehabilitation at Pindari,” says David. “It was a hard way to do it, but it was really good for me.”
At first David was suicidal, but with support from the Salvos he started attending chapel. He was then introduced to The Salvation Army’s Brisbane Streetlevel Mission. The service offers a community centre, meals, chapel, laundry and services for those who are homeless, plus Salvos Legal access, training and volunteering opportunities, outreach and much more.
“Luckily for me, I met great people who saw great things in me,” says David. “I went back to school and did my diploma in community services and counselling.” David also started volunteering at Streetlevel.
“At first, I was volunteering to keep my mind busy,” he says. “But I soon realised I had something to offer others who were addicted and homeless.”
It was while he was volunteering at Streetlevel that David met his now-wife, Vanessa.
“We knew each other as friends for many months. I was supporting her because I had been through the same thing,” David says.
With Vanessa, her son and their baby daughter, David—now a Salvation Army soldier—moved to Logan (Qld). Here he hopes to one day help replicate the Streetlevel model.
“We see a really big need here,” he says. “There are many people in the area with addiction issues and a lot of family and domestic violence. We have to find a way to connect with people.”
Happy to share his story, David is rebuilding his life and is thrilled to have reconnected with his two sons.
“The Salvation Army gave me my life back—and Vanessa hers,” he says. “In sharing my story, I might help someone else. It is a small thing I can do to show my gratitude.”