Addiction in regional Victoria – One mother’s journey

Addiction in regional Victoria – One mother’s journey

Odyssey House Victoria (OHV)'s Circuit Breaker program provides a six-week, live-in rehabilitation program near Benalla in north-east Victoria for people affected by alcohol and other drug addiction. Currently the program accommodates 15 adults with the aim to help people end the chaos associated with a substance dependant lifestyle. There is a huge demand for rehabilitation beds, particularly in regional Victoria and services and programs are limited in the countryside.

COVID has also made things worse, with tighter restrictions and reduced beds. Many Australians have also started drinking more alcohol as a way of coping, so we expect to see demand for services increase in the years ahead.


A mother’s story – Ann*

A mother from regional Victoria shared her story shared her story about the devastation of addiction. Ann spoke about raising her family of three children with her husband over 30 years in country Victoria whilst also running a small business. She said that as her children grew up she would never have imagined that any of her children would one day her need an alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation program. As Ann’s children moved into their teenage years, she noticed some worrying signs. Her daughter had been open with her about the fact that she had experimented with party drugs but she always held down a job and Ann was not prepared for the journey her family’s life ended up taking.


Ann’s daughter started to exhibit behaviours that concerned Ann. She had lost weight and never had any money and then she lost her drivers licence and quit her job. It took 10 years of spiralling out of control before her daughter came to the point where she accepted she needed help. Ann’s daughter ended up going to New South Wales where she stayed with a family friend and detoxed away from her old networks with supports from a local health clinic.

During this time, one of Ann’s sons also succumbed to addiction, having struggled with anxiety his whole life. Ann tried to get support for both children. She went to doctors and the police but there were many closed doors, particularly as their parent. She found it very hard knowing where to get help for her children living in a regional area.

Ann spoke about the distress of having to call an ambulance for her unresponsive son who had overdosed. She talked of her the anxiety of knowing it could happen again at any time and the heartbreak of knowing that her son would have to wait another 6 weeks for a rehab bed.

Ann’s son eventually heard about Odyssey House Victoria’s Circuit Breaker program. Her son was so desperate he called Odyssey House himself and ended up going through the program three times over a two year period. Each time, he gained more valuable skills and achieved stability for a time, but he needed a longer program to sustain the positive changes he was making.

‘’Addiction does not care about what you own, how many friends you have, what car you drive or how old you are. If it decides it is going to take your life away, it most likely will’’ (Ann, 2022).

Ann believes that without intervention, nothing would have saved her children. Ann’s daughter is in recovery having been drug free for five years. She now has a partner and two beautiful children. Ann’s son is still struggling but knows he can always return to Circuit Breaker and get the further support he needs.

Circuit Breaker Expansion Plans

The good news is that Odyssey House Victoria is about to increase the residential beds available in our Circuit Breaker program, from 15 to 35, and build a brand new, purpose-built facility. This will add some longer-term treatment options to people seeking help there. We have the funds for the building and the funds to operate it but are seeking additional financial support from the community to fit it out with all the basics that every home needs such as beds, furniture, linen, blinds and kitchen equipment.


The redevelopment of Odyssey House Victoria’s Circuit Breaker in Molyullah will mean more people can get the help and support they need, to turn their lives around. It will help people like Ann focus on working in her small business, enjoy time with the grandchildren, and sleeping peacefully each night.

Please help support the redevelopment of the Circuit Breaker by making a donation to Odyssey House Victoria today.

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