Lives Lived Well’s research partnership gives clients faster access to new treatments

Lives Lived Well’s clients are accessing new and improved clinical treatment for problems with drugs and alcohol, thanks to our research partnership with The University of Queensland (UQ), which has just entered its sixth year.

Traditionally, the translation of health research into clinical practice takes around 17 years*. This partnership with UQ enables us to deliver leading-edge supports to clients in a much shorter timeframe.

“Through this partnership involving postgraduate researchers and clinicians, we have been able to bring new treatments into our clinical practice to better aid clients in a matter of months, not years,” said Lives Lived Well’s Clinical Director, James Curtain.

Lives Lived Well renewed its research partnership with UQ following a successful five-year collaboration which saw a number of new programs for the treatment of problematic drug and alcohol use developed and offered to Lives Lived Well’s clients.

The research partnership included the creation of a Professor of Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health at UQ in 2017, as well as a commitment to contribute resources towards research on what treatments are most effective for helping people overcome difficulties with substances and mental health and wellbeing.

Professor Leanne Hides has been leading the UQ School of Psychology’s contribution to the research partnership. Since 2017, Lives Lived Well and UQ have worked closely to identify opportunities to develop and trial new treatments, and then add these treatments to the supports Lives Lived Well clinicians can offer clients.

The partnership has proved incredibly rewarding for both organisations, not only for clients accessing the support but also for the clinicians delivering treatment.

“Lives Lived Well is focused on providing evidence-informed treatment,” James said. “We want our clients to have confidence that the treatments we offer will be effective.

“In partnership with UQ, we have developed a set of outcome measures that our clinicians use with their clients, to track progress against a range of measures. For clients, being able to see their improvements over weeks and months is really motivating – it encourages them to keep going when things get tough.

“Working with UQ, our team has designed new treatments and rolled these out across our services. For example, the GRIT Wellbeing Program, Reframe and First Step are all new programs that are increasingly available to people accessing our services to support them with their recovery. These all reflect cutting-edge thinking and are best practice.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our clinical treatment program, and this partnership with UQ helps us to deliver world class evidence-based support for clients which positions Lives Lived Well as leaders of clinical treatment for drug and alcohol misuse in Australia.”

In 2021 the research partnership won the prestigious Partnership Excellence category in the UQ Research Partnerships and Translation Awards.

*Morris, Z. S., Wooding, S., & Grant, J. (2011). The answer is 17 years, what is the question: understanding time lags in translational research. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 104(12), 510-520.

Adventure Therapy – changing young people’s lives

Mastering a new skill in the company of others who are just as nervous and unsure is a powerful experience – as many young people on the Gold Coast are discovering when they participate in headspace Southport’s Adventure Therapy program.

The Southport service is one of the few headspace services in Australia offering Adventure Therapy as part of its treatment program.

Young people on the Gold Coast who are seeking support for mental health concerns have the chance to participate in a range of physical activities, including yoga, skate boarding, surfing and exploration in nature.

Our Functional Recovery Team (FRT) delivers the program. In a win/win for the young people, the FRT team members have a wide range of skills they can offer, along with their clinical expertise. Our FRT clinicians are also qualified surf instructors, yoga instructors and personal trainers.

Each Adventure Therapy session combines a physical activity with psychoeducation. Mindfulness is a major focus of all sessions.

Our Manager (Clinical Services Youth Mental Health), Marijka Brennan, said Adventure Therapy gives young people the opportunity for safe risk taking.

“It also helps participants develop skills related to time management and socialising and boosts self-esteem,” she said.

“We had a young man coming to our Adventure Program who found it very difficult to socialise. Just leaving his home, where he lived alone, was a major challenge.  After attending headspace Southport as a client, he joined the kayaking and fishing group and loved it so much that he has now bought his own fishing rod. We can see how much confidence he has built.”

Returning to work or study

The underlying purpose of the program is to prepare young people to return to work or study.

“After completing an eight-week program, we see around half of each group go on to return to study or work. Other young people move into different Adventure Therapy programs or take up volunteer roles with headspace, such as with Peer Support and the Youth Advisory Council.

“It’s wonderful to see the young people flourish and to be part of such an innovative treatment program,” Marijka said.

Interested in joining our headspace team as a clinician? Check out our career opportunities. Learn more about our headspace Southport services.

Case study – the role of family

Although they may have a drinking or drug problem that is affecting their life in all sorts of ways, people are not always motivated to seek help. In the case of a recent client who attended our Caboolture services, it was family members who kick started the client’s recovery. It took some time for the client to come around to the idea of accessing our support.

Lives Lived Well services are underpinned by a stepped care model of support, that provides help for people at different stages of their recovery journey. Support can be intensified if needed.

This case study highlights the different levels of support and programs available to people in the Brisbane North region. It also shows the dedication of our staff to supporting clients as they face a multitude of challenges in recovery.

Carla’s story

Carla (not her real name) is a 46 year old mother of one child, who came into our Pettigrew St Caboolture office with her family late in 2021. At the time, she was consuming more than two bottles of wine a day and had been doing so for more than 10 years. She needed a walking frame to move and displayed significant cognitive impairment. She had been admitted to hospital a number of times with health complications stemming from her alcohol consumption. And yet, at the time, Carla did not want to stop drinking. She was only there due to family pressure.

Lives Lived Well offers a community-based detox service in Caboolture but Carla was deemed too high risk for the service, as she had a history of strokes and seizures. She initially refused any intervention. However, our clinician Lyndal was able to establish a good rapport with Carla, and continued discussions with her. Together they explored the pros and cons of Carla’s drinking and talked about Carla’s fears if she were to stop drinking. Medical advice given at the time said Carla was at imminent risk of death if she did not stop her alcohol consumption.

Eventually, Carla agreed to be referred to HADS. In the mean time, she was living in a hotel by herself (her family would not let her return to the family home). Lyndal and Carla worked on a reduction plan and Lyndal regularly checked in with Carla. Lyndal also continued talking with Carla’s family, including her father in New Zealand.

When Carla was admitted to hospital for detox, Lyndal accompanied her to ensure the admission went smoothly. Carla spent eight days in detox before transferring to hospital rehab for three weeks. Lyndal continued to maintain regular phone contact with Carla during this period. While Carla was in hospital, her family joined our Breakthrough for Families program, designed to assist families impacted by a loved one’s alcohol or other drug use.

Early in December, Carla agreed to check out our live-in recovery service in Caboolture, Wunya and transitioned there straight from hospital. She completed the treatment program over the next month and then moved into our Caboolture Day Rehab program, where she achieved 100% attendance. She was an engaged and articulate participant in the group program. By the end of this program, Carla was walking unaided. She has now set herself a goal to run a marathon!

Lives Lived Well continues to provide counselling support to Carla and her family. Our counsellors have helped Carla connect to employment, DV and housing support services.

We are proud of our AOD Counsellor Case Manager Lyndal, who went above and beyond to walk alongside Carla on her journey back to health. In Carla’s own words:

“Staff were incredible when I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. Long may I continue to keep on with what I’m doing. It’s getting harder because life is getting busier. But with the support of LLW Clinicians who are there for me, I feel like I can do this. This is my absolute truth 100%. Lives Lived Well support saved my life.​”

Free mental health support now in Longreach

Our NewAccess coach, Mark ‘Sparky’ Dickson, is based in Longreach and will be delivering support to people there as well as in the core target areas of Winton, Barcaldine and Blackall. He’ll also be hitting the road to provide outreach services in Boulia, Bedourie, Birdsville and Windorah.

Following the flooding in northern Queensland, as well as the ongoing drought in many parts of western Queensland, services such as NewAccess are needed now more than ever. The NewAccess program was developed by Beyond Blue to provide free and confidential support to help people tackle day-to-day pressures such as work stress, family concerns and financial worries.

Mark says he is looking forward to supporting the people of western Queensland. He brings extensive experience to the role, having worked as an Enrolled Nurse and as a Medic in the RAAF. He spent 2014/15 living and working in the area as a Partners in Recovery Support Facilitator.

Lives Lived Well now delivers the NewAccess program in the Darling Downs, West Moreton and Central West Queensland regions. People can access the program via phone counselling or face to face at our Warwick, Dalby, Gatton, Kingaroy and Longreach hubs. Learn more.

Beaudesert move provides more space to do more

Opening our new home at 65-81 Brisbane Street (from left) Lives Lived Well CEO, Mitchell Giles and Brisbane South AOD Team Leader, Ronelle Waring were joined by the Federal Member for Wright, Scott Buchholz MP and the Queensland State Member for Scenic Rim, John Krause MP.

Aiming to deliver group programs including Smart Recovery and Breakthrough for Families information sessions, our Beaudesert team had outgrown its previous location at Illoura Carinity Care.

The new, centrally located office at Shop 10, 65-81 Brisbane Street was opened with an official event on 30 January. Lives Lived Well CEO, Mitchell Giles spoke at the opening alongside Federal Member Scott Buchholz MP, State Member Jon Krause MP and Brisbane South PHN’s General Manager of Commissioned Programs, Lucille Chalmers.

Lucille told the gathering that Beaudesert was one of the priority areas for alcohol and drug support as identified in the Brisbane South PHN’s 2018 Needs Assessment, so she was pleased to be able to support an extension of services in the region.

In the last financial year, Lives Lived Well supported 80 people through our Beaudesert service. Of those supported, most named methamphetamine (ICE) (42%) or alcohol (40%) as their primary drug of concern.
Our Brisbane South AOD Team Leader, Ronelle Waring, said the move to premises in the main street had already had a dramatic impact on the number of people the team was supporting.
“We have seen a 300 per cent increase in referrals, and many of these are self-referrals, which is fantastic,” she said.

Introducing Wyla – withdrawal and residential service

Our Orange-based withdrawal and residential rehab services are now located in a shared space on the Bloomfield Campus, under the new name of Wyla – the Aboriginal name given to the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo local to the area.

These services (previously known as Lyndon Withdrawal and Wattlegrove) have always worked closely with each other. Being co-located will mean an even smoother transition for those completing withdrawal and then moving into our residential rehabilitation program.

We provide live-in withdrawal in a safe and supportive environment which includes educational and group activities. After an average length of stay of seven days, clients can then move into the recovery program for a live -in three-month drug and alcohol program for people aged 18 and over.

For more information about Wyla please call us on 1300 596 366.