Struggling at school, *Caleb started drinking at just age 14 and using drugs by 15. At age 17, Caleb was scared and knew he needed Triple Care Farm’s help.
Caleb started drinking at only 14. He wasn’t doing well at school. He struggled with his grades, and thought he wasn’t good at anything. Caleb started to skip school and spent more time in trouble when he did. “Drinking gave me something to do, killed the boredom”.
He had issues with other students. His behaviour affected everyone around him. His teachers gave up on him. He left. So did his motivation.
Caleb spent his days sitting around his parents’ home, his feelings of uselessness, low self-esteem and confusion were completely hidden by his aggressive, false-bravado. The more his inner voice brought him down, the more he reflected negativity and anger to show his strength.
His parents despaired – unable to connect with their son. Their relationship and their lives suffered.
“Mum was at me to do something, get a job, go back to school, I hid a lot from her. She wanted the best for me, but I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to feel anything.”
That’s when Caleb started using drugs. He started smoking pot at 15 as a temporary release from the troubles in his head. But it became daily. Soon enough, his new ‘friends’ gave him the drug that would fix it all, ice.
Within months that first taste turned into an escalating addiction and theft became the only way to fund it. He stole from family, neighbours, strangers.
“He was angry all the time, he would come home high and we were scared of what he would do. I didn’t trust him. I felt like I failed as a parent.”
Caleb’s mum Hayley* wells up in tears. She tells of feeling powerless, sick in her stomach and how difficult it was on her marriage. “I didn’t know what I did wrong. Why did we deserve this? I was jealous of my friends, whose children were doing well and were happy. I distanced myself from them too.”
Caleb’s aggression worsened. His anger turned to violence. “We were scared. We didn’t want to make him angry. But I was even more scared of him running out on the streets not knowing what he would do, if he would be safe, if he would come back. My daughter moved away. She wanted a normal life and I didn’t blame her. We never got a break. Birthdays, Christmas, special occasions just didn’t exist for our family anymore. Because Caleb chose not to live a normal life, none of us had a normal life.” Says Hayley.
Caleb spent more time with his ‘friends’ and drug suppliers than anywhere else, his life, physical and mental health were spiralling down, fast. At just 17 he had been in trouble with the police and lost friends and family relationships. He was depressed and scared.
“One night Caleb came home. I remember the now familiar feeling of my stomach turning as he walked in the house. A mix of relief and fear knowing he was alive and close by. But something was different this time. He sat on the lounge instead of going straight into his room and closing the door” recalls Hayley.
One of Caleb’s friends had killed himself. He too was just 17 and living the same kind of life. Caleb knew he could be next and he didn’t want to die.
Caleb and his Mum researched options for help and found Mission Australia’s Triple Care Farm on the SDMF website.
“I was scared of getting my hopes up when we found Triple Care Farm but it seemed like the best place to get him away from his current life and give him a second chance. And our family could learn to live again.” Says Hayley.
Caleb was accepted into Triple Care Farm. “It was a big step for me. I was leaving what I knew, how I had been living and everything. The staff worked with me though, at my pace. It wasn’t easy. Some days I just wanted to leave. But then what would I do? The farm taught me things to try when I felt angry or felt like a hit. I started to look after my health too, exercising and learning to cook – I guess the things that should be normal. I got to try heaps of different things too like music and woodwork and started to look at education again. I never thought I would go back to school but the Farm made me realise I can learn. That felt good. And I started to mend things with my family.”
Because of you, Caleb was able to make a fresh start. Your support enabled him to take care of his health and understand the numerous issues that led him to addiction. You showed Caleb he can learn and that he is someone worth valuing. You saved his life.
You also helped Caleb’s family. You are giving Hayley and her family back a son and brother. The ripples you create continue to spread through Caleb’s family every day.
“Our family is on a journey. But for the first time in a long time we are a family again. It’s been a very difficult journey and we’re not perfect, but I’m not scared anymore.”
*name has been changed for privacy reasons