“I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Robyn Lewis, a former addict who is sharing her story in the hope of helping others struggling with addiction in regional and rural areas. Robyn battled six different addictions for almost 40 years, including a 15-year ice habit.
“I was an alcoholic, I was a really bad gambler, I smoked cigarettes and marijuana, I was addicted to anti-depressants,” she said. “The life of an addict is very hard, it’s physically and mentally draining. The toll that drugs and alcohol take on you is far more than people appreciate.” Robyn was then introduced to Smart Recovery Australia and has been clean and sober for the past 20 months.
“Life for me is fantastic, I’ve just purchased a house, I’m holding down three jobs at the moment and I’ve never been happier,” Robyn said. “I don’t have any anxiety or depression which I used to be racked with, I was suicidal on a weekly basis. Actually, for the first time in my whole life I actually love and respect myself.”
Robyn now also runs a Smart Recovery Australia program in her hometown of West Wyalong and travels across Central West NSW as a guest speaker. She said telling her story may encourage others who are struggling to seek help. “When I was in the grips of my addiction, I felt like there wasn’t much out there in the way of help, especially from people who had experience like myself,” she said. “There's a big need for someone like me to actually go around and talk to people about the real life experience I had with addiction.” She also credits exercise as a form of therapy and doesn’t take anti-depressants. “I train every day on a daily basis, I train for a couple of hours every day and that gives me feel-good, natural endorphins,” she said.
“I’m a promoter of people not using anti-depressants and going for a walk or a jog or bike ride because it’s free.” Robyn said she has people contacting her all the time, seeking help, support or just someone to talk too. “I do come across a lot of people who are struggling or one of their family members are struggling with addiction,” she said. “I want people to realise the opposite to addiction is connection…Stay connected with their friends and their family, talk to them about what’s going on and they will be there to support you and encourage you and help you.”
Robyn will be the guest speaker at Canowindra’s International Women’s Day event on March 8. Smart Recovery meetings are also held at the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre twice a month. For details, email Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.