My name is Alex Gallo, and I am currently completing my PhD at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in the division of psychiatry. My journey started in 2014 when I began my undergraduate degree at UWA. I went on to complete a Master of Pharmacy and in 2020, while completing my pharmacy intern hours part-time, I enrolled in a PhD.

Fresh Start Recovery Programme has been a source of support throughout my time so far in many ways. It has been a fantastic experience to get to know all the amazing staff and patients and a privilege to contribute to the amazing work they do with innovative treatment options.

My research has primarily focused on treating anxiety in a way that is different to all current treatment options, using flumazenil infusions. The treatment generally involves a series of continuous infusions prescribed by the treating physicians. We then follow-up patients using an array of questionnaires and heart rate monitoring to assess whether there are any improvements in anxiety levels. Research at Fresh Start is vital to support the amazing work that is being done and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to help make a difference.

Flumazenil in generalised anxiety disorders
Fresh Start has been using flumazenil for the management of drug withdrawal, and more recently has seen improvements in anxiety symptoms for patients with generalised anxiety disorders. The idea surrounding the treatment is that when people are in a chronic state of stress, the body’s own mechanism to calm itself down becomes less effective. The aim of treatment with flumazenil is to reset this mechanism so patients can cope with stress and anxiety more effectively. Currently, Fresh Start is involved in an observational trial to monitor patients’ progress that receive this treatment with the research team at the University of Western Australia.