Dignity and care at heart of AOD service

14 June 2022

Dignity and care at heart of AOD service

“Hope is like oxygen to the soul”

Captain Brad Whittle, manager at The Salvation Army’s Townsville Recovery Services, Queensland shares his insights into addiction, recovery and hope.

Townsville Recovery Services is a 52-bed residential facility for men and women recovering from addiction to alcohol, other drugs and gambling.

Our service focusses on people who have alcohol and other drug issues. It’s holistic in many ways. We want people to learn how to live again – how to relate to people, to invest in their mental, emotional and physical health and their relational wellbeing.

The role of our case workers is very much a person-centred approach – journeying with individuals through their own goals and recognising their different experiences. 


It’s not just about the need but people’s readiness for change and that is often precipitated by crisis and pain. There are different levels of trauma, people managing anxiety-related disorders or depression, conflict, social isolation, legal issues. 

Nobody sets out to become addicted. It’s about breaking down stigma – to be more gracious and understanding and to realise that everyone has a story. Even people who have done some negative things – there’s stuff behind that.


Part of our mandate is to make sure people are aware of who we are and what we can do and what’s available for them. It’s certainly far more tailored these days, once-upon-a-time there was very much a program focus and this is what you would come in and do, almost like regardless of who you are. But now it’s very much about a person-centred approach and trying to journey with them through their own goals and recognise the unique differences between a 16-year-old and a 65-year-old and somebody from different places and different cultures.


Fundamentally the role of our case workers is coming alongside people and trying to work on individual goals, hearing their story and responding to their readiness, helping them to take the step in a new direction together.

People are vulnerable, they need levels of support. They’re tapping into the strengths they do have, what assets they have, what capabilities they have. As they engage with the community and in the supports that we provide here, there’s decreased anxiety levels, depression is better managed, their capacity to choose and make better choices, and their relational world again is changed so social isolation tends to be reduced.

General independence and overall health improves too as they begin to be well and exercise, limiting negative choices with their bodies as well as their minds.


It is overwhelming to see in people the courage that they don’t always see themselves. So often people are laden with guilt and shame, but just the courage and the resilience and the perseverance they muster is phenomenal. As they begin to experience the hope in the present and the future, they start to reframe how they feel about themselves and really build into their potential.

Hope is like oxygen to the soul. When you see people come and reach out for help, they really are starved of hope – they’re desperate and they’re just looking for a way out from where they are. But as time unfolds, as their health is restored and people care for one another, you see that the past isn’t so much what dominates their thinking – it’s actually the present and the future. They start to see a potential for the future that looks different from what they’ve known of themselves or what they’ve experienced in the past.

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