Corey Sutton | Brekky producer
A former drug addict turned rehabilitation success story, Shalom House‘s Peter Lydon-James has a blunt message for drug offenders — “addiction is a choice, not an illness”.
Peter’s full story is set to air on ABC’s The Australian Story on Monday, April 3. (Update: moved to April 10)
He describes Shalom House, a self-funded, 70+ resident live-in facility located in WA’s Swan valley, as “a men’s rehabilitation centre for men with life-controlling issues — anything that stops a person from living a normal life”.
Shalom started by accident in July 2012, when I first started Shalom House I had no intention of starting a rehabilitation centre but rather a discipleship house where I could help men change their life. I purchased a house next to the Bandyup women’s prison and had four fellas who moved in and within 12 months it went to 12. I put an application in to the Swan Shire to change that zoning from Special Rural to Community Purpose.
Peter doesn’t believe the WA public should foot the bill to rehabilitate those who have made the choice to use drugs but he also ensures the men who voluntarily enter the program that no profit from their weekly $300 fee goes into the pockets of the staff.
“(We tell them) we don’t make money out of you,” Peter said.
“We run (Shalom House) on the smell of an oily rag.”
And it’s quite a tightly-run “oily rag”.
“The men are not allowed more than a days worth of facial hair — as for the hairdo, it’s ‘two on top, one on the sides’,” he said.
Peter is often asked why someone would choose to take drugs?
“I was doing an information day down in Collie, and a man in the audience asked the same thing. So I asked back, ‘do you smoke?’ He says, ‘yes’. I ask, ‘why’, he says ‘because he enjoys it’. I repeat the question with alcohol. It’s the same response. Why do they do drugs? Same reason you smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol — it feels good.”
When asked how a drug addict can move on when their past is always drawn up before them: “Treat it like water on a windscreen. People keep bringing up my past, but I don’t let the past define my future.”
When referring to a lady protecting her son from going to jail, Peter said: “If she’s trying to stop him from getting arrested well then, gee, if I were a cop I’d arrest her. She needs to be thrown into rehab. She’s stopping him from getting help”.
“If you touch the hotplate, you get burnt,” he said.
While Peter’s no-holds-barred approach may come across as harsh to some, he said he’s in his line of business because he cares for people.
“I tell people what they need to hear. Not what they want to hear.”
Shalom House also run Shalom Works — a maintenance business based in West Swan that seeks to give the best quality work while giving men a second chance at life.
Read more about Shalom House employees here.
Listen to our podcast below to hear Peter Lydon-James’ answers on:
Why would you take drugs?
Why would you inject acid in your veins?
Why would you do it when we all know the side effects?Podcast: Peter Lydon-James on Mornings with Mike Wednesday 22 March 2017
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