Fraser Millar, a young, Western Australian, is currently spending a year long trip in Europe and will be participating in the Berlin Marathon and making an impact whilst he’s doing it. While he will be running to push his own boundaries and celebrate his uncle’s 50th birthday he is using the opportunity to raise funds for Fresh Start Recovery Programme in Perth, a not-for-profit with a mission close to his heart.
Fraser has lived experience with substance use disorders, but maybe not in the way you would think.
Someone he loved dearly, his mother, struggled with prescription medication use disorder which left a long-lasting impact on his life. His decision to support Fresh Start was guided by the holistic, multi-faceted treatment options that provide services and support for individuals and their families who are struggling.
In 2014, at the age of 20 Fraser felt compelled to help his mother fight her battle of substance use disorder. He did this silently, embarrassed and fearful to speak up and seek help openly. A young man, in a regional coastal city of Western Australia was left to grapple with the stigma and with limited resources.
Treatment and recovery programmes were not easily accessible due to costs, locations and waiting times. In addition, he found that treatment programmes were not very visible to the wider regional communities of WA. He took it upon himself to do some research and initiate the first challenge in supporting someone with a substance use disorder, uncovering and intervening. He came to the realisation that the changes he was experiencing and noticing in his mother were the first signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder which included mood fluctuations, change in sleep patterns, weight gain, seizures and over purchasing of prescriptions. After this realisation, the next thing was to navigate a way to prompt his mother to seek help. Starting an intervention is a serious and hard conversation to have with someone you love, and even harder without guidance and resources from a professional.
Throughout his mother’s battle, Fraser reached out and leaned on family and close friends. The years following were filled ups and downs, with many attempts at recovery, intermingled with relationship breakdowns, arguments and job loss, but love and support never wavering between the son and mother.
Fraser found these years a struggle, providing support and trying to understand what his mother needed and what she was going through.
This led to anxiety issues, insomnia, PTSD and now when he looks back, he recognises that he was probably experiencing some form of depression. At the time, Fraser never sought professional help due to the stigma surrounding his situation.
Fraser’s mother has sadly passed, but Fraser has gone on to empower himself and has completed studies in the addiction field. He works every day to manage the effects of his experience. He engages in individual and team sports, prioritises his sleep, maintains a healthy diet and confides in his friends and family. Looking forward, Fraser’s journey is to establish a health and wellness passion- project of his own with his good friend Corey. Watch this space for ‘Having Chats’.
By participating in the Berlin Marathon, Fraser wants to bring awareness to the services that are available for individuals and their families who are struggling with substance use.
“I feel a sense of duty to raise some awareness of the options so people don’t have to go the long way to empowerment like I did.”
Fraser, your story is one that many can learn from and will empower others to find their voice and seek help for themselves and those they love.
Thank you for your generosity and work to help Fresh Start in facilitating a future free from the effects of substance use disorders for individuals, families and communities.
To help support Fraser on his journey and effort to raise money please go to the link below
Fresh Start Family.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder,
call our Subiaco clinic on 08 9381 1333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Statistics from 2014
Australia was in the midst of a new crisis for substance use disorders, from 2011 – 2015, prescription drug-related deaths had increased to 36.57% of all drug related deaths, that being 2.5 times more than heroine at the time.
From 2015 – 2020 across Australia’s major newspapers including, The Age, The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald, out of the 83 articles about drug related deaths only 8 of those were related to pharmaceuticals.
Almost 3 million people in Australia were prescribed at least one opioid under PBS or RPBS.
A National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Framework became available in the early months of 2014; however, this new Framework did not include a real-time pharmaceutical monitoring (RTPM) system to coordinate drug supply which was a priority recommendation.
Tas was the first State to implement an RTPM in 2009, followed by Vic in 2019, QLD and SA in 2021, ACT, NWS and NT in 2022 and lastly WA, the final state to join on March 28, 2023.
Smith, J. A. (2023). An analysis of opioid use. Journal of Medicine, 45(2), 123-135. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00914509231178937#table1-00914509231178937
Therapeutic Goods Administration. (2023). Addressing Prescription Opioid Use and Misuse in Australia. Australian Government Department of Health. https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/publication/publications/addressing-prescription-opioid-use-and-misuse-australia
Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2023). Real-time Prescription Monitoring in Australia. ADF. Real time prescription monitoring in Australia – Alcohol and Drug Foundation (adf.org.au)
Malcolm D. National Prescribing Service. (2014). Pharmaceutical drug misuse in Australia, Volume 3, a1b749ffcd721ad7-0747cd5893f1-467175f40977e9ae2898e96e0692cc4ea4e0c79537a0b3b0a4c45721b558.pdf (nps.org.au)