Posted by David Fallick
Last Tuesday evening our club was fortunate to have the CEO of Arrow Health, Toby Lawrence, as guest speaker. Arrow Health was set up by Toby and his family seven years ago to deal with all aspects of drug and alcohol addiction. While studying for his degree in Behavioural Neuroscience at Monash University, he became aware of various addictions and the different treatments for them. However, his interest in these fields of study became greatly heightened by his own family’s protracted challenges with Toby’s older brother, Sam.
And the honesty with which Toby took us through the various stages of addiction and treatment, with reference to the example of his brother, was what clearly differentiated this presentation from what we have all seen and heard about.  This curse of contemporary western society.
With the aid of a detailed power-point presentation, Toby explained just how early drug addiction can start, often with a so-called innocuous ‘recreational’ drug such as marijuana and that, as in his own family’s experience, it affects all socio-economic groups.  He detailed the Arrow Health approach which emphasises engaging with, supporting and counselling the family and friends of the addict.  Recommended periods of rehabilitation at their Woodend private hospital, which they are currently endeavouring to significantly expand, is also being prepared for patients ‘back-sliding’.
In short, Arrow’s philosophy is long-term and holistic; starting with nutrition, physical exercise, mental and even spiritual health.  By contrast, the psychiatric facilities in public hospitals are over-stretched and underfunded compelling them to turn patients over much more quickly while many larger, private drug treatment facilities are prohibitively expensive.
Although Toby’s presentation was significantly longer than the usual 15-20 minutes, it was telling that throughout you could have heard a pin drop.  No one present could have been left in any doubt as to Toby’s sincerity and his knowledge and understanding of the serious medical and social blight of addiction.  And this level of engagement was borne-out by the flood of questions that he received and took the time to answer in some detail.  In fact, when I had to leave, Toby was still answering members’ questions.
Given the epidemic of drug and alcohol fuelled social dysfunction, family breakdown and violence, one can’t help concluding that we need many more rehabilitation facilities like Arrow Health.