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Experiences with Alcohol and Cannabis

Preferred Name: Dylan

Gender: Male

Age: 27


Dylan is single and has two children. At the time of the interview he wasn’t working, and was living with a family member. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Aboriginal’: he and his parents were born in Australia.

Brief Outline:

Dylan began drinking alcohol and smoking ‘yarndi’ (cannabis) with his friends in his early teens and continued to do so into his early twenties. After losing custody of his youngest child a year before the interview, he became isolated from his friends and family, and his smoking and drinking increased. He says he developed addictions to cannabis and alcohol. About six months before the interview, after seeing an alcohol and other drug worker at his local community centre, he completed a residential treatment program and stopped smoking cannabis. He has no plans to resume smoking it, but intends to continue to drink alcohol occasionally.

Dylan's Story:

Dylan has two children and describes his youngest as his ‘little right hand man’. He says he wants to ‘keep [his] body healthy and fit’ so he can ‘run around and kick the footy’ with his children. He’s a keen woodworker, making didgeridoos, walking sticks and artworks. At the time of the interview he wasn’t working but planned to work in the future.

Dylan began smoking ‘yarndi’ (cannabis) when he was in his early teens. He found cannabis ‘mellowed [him] out’ and made him ‘feel relaxed’. After leaving school in his mid-teens he began spending more time with friends drinking and smoking cannabis. Then in his late teens Dylan moved from the city where he was born to a regional town, where he had his first child with his partner at the time. He continued to consume cannabis and alcohol with friends. His relationship with his child’s mother later ended and he moved to another regional town and lost contact with his first child.

Several years later he had a second child with another partner. Around a year before the interview, Dylan lost custody of his child, which he had shared with his partner. The loss of custody affected him deeply: he says he ‘hid himself from the world’ and became isolated from his friends and family. He also began smoking cannabis and drinking heavily, and says he developed addictions to cannabis and alcohol. As a teenager Dylan had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition that affects the body’s insulin production) but had stopped taking insulin for a number of years, and his condition had worsened over this time. Concerned about his health, he began seeing an alcohol and other drug worker from a local community centre, who suggested that he attend an Aboriginal residential treatment program. A few months later he completed the treament program on a nearby rural property. Dylan found this program suited him, as he ‘learnt a lot of culture’, Aboriginal history, cooking and woodwork, which he now plans to ‘pass on’ to his child. He became ‘close’ to the elders working there and found it helpful to be able to ‘go and have a yarn’ with them. He also saw a diabetes specialist and resumed taking insulin.

Currently Dylan is focused on regaining custody of his child and has stopped smoking cannabis. He has recently moved to ‘a quiet suburb’ to live with a relative. He’s regained regular contact with family members and no longer sees friends who smoke cannabis. He’s managing his diabetes with regular healthy meals and daily insulin, which makes him feel more energetic. While he still ‘ha[s] a drink occasionally’, he has no plans to resume smoking cannabis.


Dylan (M, 27, unemployed, cannabis) says he stopped taking insulin for diabetes for a while but resumed when he went to residential treatment.

I’m a diabetic, been a diabetic since I was 17. Yeah, I stopped my insulin—because I’m insulin dependent—stopped my insulin, started drinking heavy, smoking heavy, sort of didn’t care about the world or myself. Locked myself away from everyone and didn’t care. And then I got a drug and alcohol worker [at a local community health service] and they mentioned about rehab. And I sat on that for about a month or two thinking about it and yeah, I volunteered myself to go into rehab […] Then I got into rehab, I met a diabetic specialist and […I’ve] got that back under control now. I have my insulin every day. Yeah, like I said, it gives me a bit of energy and I feel a lot better. I’m not tired or sleepy, you know. I can get up and come in to town and I can do stuff, you know […] I, sort of, don’t want to be young and die from diabetes, but that’s life. But I just take it day by day at the moment.

Dylan attended a residential treatment facility for Aboriginal people and says that, amongst other things, he enjoyed learning about Aboriginal culture.

It was a good rehab […] It was all male, all boys there in the rehab. You know, we had our gym there, we had our wood shed and we had our own rooms. We’d do all our programs through the week. [When] weekends come [it was…] our time, you know. We’d sleep in, do whatever we want […] I really enjoyed it. I got a bit upset when I was leaving. I got really close to a couple of workers. They were really good old workers, good blokes. I learnt a lot [from] them. Yeah, it was a good recovery.

Like I said, I done a lot of woodwork up there. I’ve done woodwork that I’ve never done in my life and the artwork I’ve done is just amazing. I didn’t think I’d have it in me but I do. Been trying to pass it on to my little fella because he wants to learn Aboriginal culture at the moment so […] what I’ve learnt in my four months, I want to teach my little son […] It was a good experience, rehab, because we [did lots of cultural activities].

For Dylan the desire to be a good father means he prefers to avoid smoking cannabis now.

Some days I really want to [smoke cannabis] but I don’t push myself to go and do it. So like I said, I’ve had my fun on it and lived the life. I want to make a better person of myself [especially for my son]. You know, he looks up at me really strong, and I don’t want to be a drop kick to him for the rest of my life. I want him to look up at me and go, ‘Look, there’s my dad’.