Ali is a fifteen-year-old Asian Australian male who approached the Ted Noffs Foundation seeking help to address his problematic use of heroin, amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis and alcohol. Ali’s parents divorced five years ago, then got back together and divorced again one year ago. Ali described his whole family as being extremely violent. Ali described living between his parents’ house, his sisters and on the streets since he was eleven years old.
At the time of assessment Ali seemed anxious at first, but then settled into it, bringing out his sense of humour. He described being extremely depressed, not being able to think straight and not being able to get things done that he had planned to do. Ali was assessed as suitable to come into the PALM program.
When Ali was admitted into PALM Sydney he had a few really tough weeks. He was withdrawing heavily; sweating, getting paranoid, emotional and unable to hold down his food. Five days into his stay he was taken to Emergency when he admitted in a counselling session that he felt like taking his own life. Ali was placed on anti-psychotic medication. In counselling he started talking about a male figure that would appear in visions around him. Over the next few days Ali told his counsellor that when he spoke about the man he would go away. I worked with Ali around asking Allah to take him away as well.
Four days later Ali attempted suicide and was admitted to hospital; this was an emotional time for Ali. The hospital reviewed his medication and Ali returned to PALM four days later. Ali started seeing a psychiatrist with the Adolescent and Mental Health team monitoring his situation weekly. One week later Ali reported that the visions were gone.
With this support in place, Ali was able to concentrate on the PALM program which involved individual case management and support and access to a minimum of three individual counselling sessions per week pertaining to AOD, family, trauma and associated issues.
Ali also participated in a minimum of five therapeutic groups per week focusing on relapse prevention, development of living skills, improving communication and a range of therapies including art therapy.
Ali embraced the opportunity to redirect his life in a more positive direction and through a determined effort on his part and with the support of PALM staff, Ali began to restore his relationships with supportive friends, family and himself.
Upon completion of the residential aspect of the program Ali was down to the minimum dose of his anti-psychotic and had worked through a lot of issues. Ali was able to move in with his sister which was a supportive environment. He started doing activities that he had become accustomed to whilst in PALM. These included going to the beach, going night fishing, playing X-box games, going to family events; all these were barren in his life before coming into PALM.
Two months after leaving the program Ali is now working full-time as a kitchen fitter. He has not injected any drugs and controls his alcohol use to the weekends. Ali also has a strengthening relationship with his sister and her children. The psychiatrist had asked to maintain contact without Ali being prescribed medication and this occurred for the six weeks after PALM. Ali still attends counselling every three weeks and is contacted fortnightly by the continuing care team. This transformation would not have been possible without the genuine hard work and tenacity demonstrated by Ali during his stay at PALM.