Robyn’s battle to beat addictions
By JOHN McLAURIN
ROBYN Lewis is a picture of health these days but it hasn’t always been the case.
The West Wyalong woman says she suffered with strong addictions over a 37 year period and can’t believe that she lives to tell the story.
At her lowest point she simultaneously had six addictions – the worst being to the drug Ice.
Her dependencies saw her gain considerable excess weight, lose several jobs and become a regular shop-lifter.
She had sores all over her body. At times these became infected.
Admitting to hanging around the wrong circles, she lost a friend to murder.
At one point she even contemplated suicide because she felt trapped with depression and anxiety and couldn’t see a way out.
It was only the potential of having a better life that kept her going.
Now a much better version of herself, the recently turned 53 year old eats well, exercises regularly and spends hours with her beloved horse, ‘Peanut’.
Earlier this year she became a proud home owner.
“I’m living proof that you can turn your life around,” she said.
“I was down and out.”
Despite managing a bar these days she feels no temptation to have a drink or a flutter on the poker machines.
“They were vices for me along with the drugs,” she said.
“I’ve come too far in my recovery to let it all go now.
“That’s the thing with addicts or former addicts, we don’t do moderation very well.”
Ms Lewis, comes from a Catholic family of 11 children.
Her father was of Swedish heritage and her mother is of Aboriginal descent.
She says when she was growing up, the family did it tough and that this had a lasting impact on her choices in life, including leaving home when she was 18.
Showing courage, she decided last year to share her story so as to help others.
“Most people have a vice of some sort whether it be drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, food, internet, sex or pornography,” she said.
“I just want to help those who are battling as I once did.”
Whilst in her twenties, Ms Lewis helped raise three children including her own daughter.
She sent them all to St Mary’s Primary School in West Wyalong confident that they would be taught the same Christian values that she was.
Since she decided to go public with her story, she says she has had nothing but positive feedback and has been inundated with offers to give talks throughout New South Wales as many folk around the country continue to seek answers to the nation’s drug epidemic
Ms Lewis’ testimony is appealing because it is a raw account and comes with practical advice.
So far she has given talks in Griffith, Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Temora, Forbes, Port Stephens, Murrumbateman, Nowra, Bogangate, Myall Lakes; and Newcastle.
This month she will speak in her hometown of West Wyalong for the first time.
“People want to know how they can prevent their kids getting into drugs and also what to do once they are on them,” she said.
“Unless you’ve had an addiction then it’s hard to appreciate just how gripping and crippling it can be for those who are suffering with one.
“My advice in that situation is to just be there for the person showing love and offering encouragement.”
Speaking of answers, Ms Lewis facilitates a SMART program in her hometown which supports those with addictions.
It stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training.
She says in order for a person to beat addiction they really have to want to do it.
“The support program is there for people,” she said.
“But unless they genuinely want to get off drugs or other vices then it won’t work.
“You have to remember that drugs etc are coping mechanisms and some people prefer to stay in a state of addiction because the pain of their ‘normal life in reality’ is often greater.
“I am not going to sugar-coat it because it has been incredibly difficult to overcome an addiction, but it can be done.
“Milestones are important.”
To learn more about the SMART Recovery program or to contact Ms Lewis about giving a talk please contact her on 0403 523 711.