Bayside Transformations graduate David Sutherland
Bayside Transformations graduate David Sutherland Jessica Lamb

Meet Bayside Transformations graduate: David Sutherland

UNLIKE other graduates who left the communities where they had fallen into addiction for a clean start, Hervey Bay father David Sutherland's family were just around the corner.

A fact which made rehab even more challenging in some aspects because David's willpower to get better had to trump the urge to leave Bayside Transformations and return to his easily accessible old life.

The 38-year-old came to the Torquay centre 13 months ago after his ice addiction got to the point he "skitzed" out on his partner's birthday near his children.

"I was in and out of mental hospital with a massive psychosis due to ice," he said.

"When it affected home it was one of those last straws for my partner.

"My family life was just falling apart.

"I moved myself out of home to live with my mum because it wasn't safe."

David was haunted by a childhood spent on the wrong side of the tracks in Sydney.

"Single parent family and at a very young age I was told I was the man of the house," he said.

"I had this unrealistic expectation that my brothers and my mum were my responsibility.

"We were bullied and our house was broken into all the time."

David used to train in the backyard with a punching bag to protect himself and his family.

"This one situation I was cornered and I stood up for myself and then was accepted into the 'in group'."

It was the "in group" which introduced him to pot for the first time.

Feeling the pressure of responsibility, David left home at 17 to return about six months later.

"My brother had gone into a mass depression and within a week of me coming home he was found dead in the living room," he said.

"I felt responsible in a way and it was hard and that is where I spiralled. I guess drugs was a way of self-medication."

Unfortunately his drug habits followed him and escalated when he moved with his partner to Hervey Bay at age 23.


"I guess at my lowest I did pray, I prayed if there was a God to help," David said.

"As far as I knew I had lost everything, I hadn't spoken to my partner."

But in the first two weeks of the lock down stage, David looked outside to a familiar face.

"There was my partner and my three kids and I looked at the supervisor at the time and he said 'yeah go on, I'll come out with you'.

"It was as a blessing in disguise. I remember my kids running up to me and my partner gave me a hug and it was like one of the best hugs in my life.

"And I knew I was on the right path and doing something right so I continued and fixed my life up."

David describes confronting his concepts of masculinity to express himself and talk about his feelings.

"I heard someone say to my son while I was in here, 'you're the man of the house now' and that really brought me a flashback," he said.

"I want to be a healthy role model not only for my kids but also for other addicts."

Now David is the men's house supervisor at Transformations and aspires to work in drug and alcohol counselling.

"The last five years have been the worst of my life, massive bouts of psychosis where I have almost killed people or killed myself and I am immensely lucky that I haven't.

"I have taken these last 13 months with both hands and committed to change."