Heroin to Hope

Jade LewisAt 15, Jade Lewis was an aspiring young athlete. By 18 she was a heroin addict.

Many people told her she was hopeless and that she would never amount to anything. After being arrested for drug related charges she knew she had to do something to change her life. At the age of 22 Jade entered the Teen Challenge programme and was able to leave drugs behind. She has since dedicated her life to helping people of all ages, walks and professions to make changes to their own lives. Today she is an author, motivational speaker, mentor and role model to many.

Jade will be telling her story at a community drug prevention presentation in Midland, Western Australia on Sunday the 30th of May. Jade joined me on 98.5 Sonshine FM to talk about her story and the seminar.

You can hear part of Jade’s story by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.


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Australia’s Drug Habit

It seems we’re becoming a nation of druggies. If there’s a pill to fix what’s ailing us we’ll gulp it down and then we’ll reach for the pill that helps us overcome the effects of the first pill.

Modern medicine has come a long way over the last several decades but has our attempt to fight disease become a lazy way to maintain our unhealthy lifestyles? Are we too quick to reach for the latest wonder drug and not nearly as keen to start treating our bodies with a little more respect?

AUSTRALIA has a pill-popping obsession, taking more than 40 million pills per day – about two pills a day for every man, woman and child.

Our drug habit is costing us $14.2 billion a year – $6.5 billion of that directly out of our own pockets – and raising questions about whether we’re relying on pills rather than changing lifestyle to maintain health. – News.com.au

While the figures are talking about Australia’s obsession with the quick fix, I’m sure that the statistics would stack up in a similar way in many countries around the world.

I’m glad that there continues to be advances in medical science and that conditions which had no way of being managed in the past are now considered minor health issues. I’m very much in favour of using appropriate medicines to improve quality of life for many people but I wonder if we’re still too eager to reach for a blister pack rather than controlling some of the lifestyle issues that created our conditions in the first place.

It’s a concern that out of the current top ten prescription medications taken by Australians, three are cholesterol medications and three are blood pressure medications. While I’m sure there are many people with cholesterol or blood pressure issues that can only be helped with a pill, I’m sure that there are many thousands on such medications who could greatly reduce their dependence on drugs by living a healthier life.

I’m heavier than I should be and I don’t always eat the right foods so I know I could be doing more to stay healthy but I’m concerned that many people today are relying on pills and potions to allow them to live badly. I wonder what doctors and researchers could be doing with their time if each one of us took responsibility in maintaining our own bodies as much as possible. I wonder what serious health issues, diseases and conditions they would be able to conquer if they didn’t have to spend so much time, effort and money simply trying to manage our bad lifestyle choices.

What will it take for us to change our own attitudes towards health? I’m sure that someone’s working on a pill for it right now.

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Could you give up alcohol for a month?

FebFast is a fundraising campaign that invites people to participate in a booze-free February, and at the same time raise funds to support organisations working in research, prevention and service delivery concerning the use of alcohol and other drugs by young people.

FebFast founder Fiona Healy joined me on 98.5 Sonshine FM recently to talk about the initiative.

Over the past two years we have seen more than 3,500 people take up the FebFast challenge to give up the grog for a month. Collectively these people have raised more than $700,000 to support our cause.

Funds from our last two campaigns have been distributed to 13 organisations around Australia.

Proceeds from our 2010 registration and fundraising efforts will be shared amongst the Australian Drug Foundation (that operates nationally), YSAS (the Youth Substance Abuse Service) in Victoria, The Ted Noffs Foundation in NSW and the ACT, Mater Hospital’s Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Service in Queensland and FebFast’s grants program for smaller grass-roots organisations.

You can listen to our discussion by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

So what do you think? Could you give up drinking for a month?

I find that whole months can go past without me having a drink anyway. I’m not what you’d call a big drinker. 🙂 I enjoy a glass of red wine now and then and an occasional beer (especially Bees Knees) but I’ve never been drunk.

What are your thoughts on drinking? Do you only drink to get drunk? Do you prefer not to drink at all? I’d be very interested in your thoughts.


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John James in Perth

JohnJames.bmpThe Newsboys began their life in Queensland, Australia, back in the early eighties.

Since then they’ve sold millions of albums, been nominated for several Grammies, taken home a swag of Dove awards as well as being recognised through several other industry awards. They’ve also played to sell out arena shows of up to 200 000 people in the U.S. and Europe.

While virtually unknown in their home land, they’ve consistently been up there with the top earners amongst Australian performers, outselling most of our other home-grown talent.

Their original lead singer, John James, left the band and show business in 1997. These days he visits schools and speaks to young people about the trappings of success and living a life of integrity.

John James joined me in the studio today as part of my morning radio programme at 98.5 Sonshine FM.

John has an amazing story to tell of The Newsboys meteoric rise to fame and the toll it took on his life and his marriage. He left the band after becoming addicted to cocaine and battling depression and alcohol abuse.

Today John is very much a changed man. His relationship with his wife and children is restored and he spends his days telling young people about the turn around in his life.

You can hear the interview by clicking play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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Heath Ledger dead at 28

Western Australian actor and Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger has been found dead of a suspected overdose in a New York apartment.

This report from the New York Times has further details.

The actor Heath Ledger was found dead this afternoon in an apartment in Manhattan inhabited by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, according to the New York City police. Signs pointed to a suicide or an accidental overdose, police sources said. Mr. Ledger was 28.

Ledger was born in my home city, Perth, Western Australia. I was out cycling this morning and went past Guildford Grammar School where Heath was educated. At the time I had no idea of the tragedy that had happened just a short time earlier.

It’s so sad to lose someone so talented so young. It’s yet another reminder that life is fragile.

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