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Lived experience aids addiction support

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Jimmy Loops says there’s some likeness between the way basketballers value coaches and the way individuals addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs value support workers. Both want guidance from those who can speak with the authority of lived experience.

Loops, himself a one-time decade-long user of opiates, says his personal experiences of drug addiction have been valuable in enabling him to build rapport with the addicted individuals he helps.

Drug and alcohol counsellor Jimmy Loops. Drug and alcohol counsellor Jimmy Loops. Photo: Supplied

Before he overcame addiction seven years ago, he says, he would walk down the street with the feeling he was in a continual face-off with many of the strangers he connected eyes with.

“I was never free from myself as I walked down the street,” he says. “I think they relate to that stuff wholeheartedly because that’s the stuff that goes on for them.”

Loops, an alcohol and other drugs peer worker at the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre, says he is focused on inspiring hope in addicts who are in the early stages of recovery.

He provides a peer’s point of view to promote quality complex care, recovery and other treatment to clients.

SHARC, a leading peer-based organisation, is part of an emerging number of service providers in Victoria’s AOD sector that recognise the value of peer support as a treatment mode.

Loops says, on a typical day, he’ll check in with clients from his group sessions to discuss if they’ve experienced any new thoughts, issues or challenges that they need help with.

“It’s about trying to get them to see a different perspective from what they get trapped in and being able to see things from a bird’s eye view,” he says.

SHARC is facilitating an information session for prospective peer workers on Monday December 18.

It’s adopted a peer worker model designed to provide employees such as Loops with a range of developmental opportunities including training, continuous professional development and supervision.

Loops, who began his current role six months ago, has a certificate IV in alcohol and other drugs and is in the process of completing his diploma.

His advice to prospective AOD peer workers is to bring a sense of insight into the turning points in their own recoveries from addiction.

“You have to know what your story is,” says Loops. “I’ve done a lot of talks on my story and identified a lot of key points in my story that I like to share.”

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