Bayside Transformations: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

Bayside Transformations: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

-By Kim Parnell-

Sadly, every 90 minutes, one person succumbs to a disease attributed to alcohol.  Drug and alcohol use disorder is a complex condition that manifests itself by excessive use of harmful substances despite the known effects. Over the past 20 years, Bayside Transformation’s experience has revealed that addictions are linked to trauma, abuse, and an inability to deal with life’s challenges.

Bayside Transformations is here to help. Let’s meet two of their recent graduates and hear their stories.

 Tara Jensen

Graduate Tara Jensen

Growing up, me and my friends started experimenting by smoking weed and drinking alcohol. That was where it all started. Over time I became addicted to pretty much any substance that I could get my hands on. Marijuana, ice, party drugs and then prescription medications. I was about thirteen at the time.

Then I started getting into trouble with the law and was in and out of jail.

About ten years ago, I lost my dad to cancer, this was a very low point for me, and my addiction got out of control.

When you are going through addiction you are so socially disconnected from society. It was a scary cycle that I just couldn’t break.

I pushed myself away from my family because of the guilt and shame associated with the addiction. Whenever I got out of jail, I was back on the streets doing what I had to do to survive until I ended back there again. 

The last time I was in jail, it just hit me, and I knew I needed to change my life. Everything that I had been doing to that point was just wrong. That was the moment I knew that I needed help and that I was ready to accept it.

I managed to get a list of rehabilitation centres and reached out to several of them, Bayside Transformations were the only ones who replied and were able to help me.

Opening up and talking about my addiction and trauma was very confronting and a huge reality check. But at the same time, it felt good. Before, my way of dealing with it would have been to drown all my thoughts with a substance.

Being in a safe environment and around other people who are going through the same thing also helps you open up. It was like a big weight was lifted off me and I no longer felt alone.

The Peer-to-Peer Addiction Recovery program runs for a minimum of twelve months, it is a strict, structured program that runs on a timetable. We talk about feelings and past trauma and get healing through various groups. There is also a work component, so we work in the kitchen several days a week.

I completed the program in fifteen months, but the end date is different for everyone.  

Being able to find out who I am as a genuine person and being free from addiction is the best feeling.

Graduating from the program with your head held high having got through all the challenging times is the best feeling. I have also reunited with my family and my son which feels amazing. 

Looking forward, I would like to stay here at Bayside Transformations. I am now a resident leader for the girl’s house. So, look after the daily needs of the women at the house. I am just passing on everything that I have been taught since being here.

Being able to help others and give back to transformations for what they have done for me is huge, they have saved my life. It has been a challenging but amazing experience.

Thank you to Tina and Lisa and everybody who works behind the scenes to keep this place up and running.

Anthony Lorenzon

Graduate Anthony Lorenzon

I grew up in a single-parent family. My dad was into the party life, just living for today and not tomorrow. Our house was like a bachelor pad, there were no rules or boundaries, and I did whatever I wanted when I wanted. My mates would come over to our house and drink with my dad. So, I learnt the behaviour from a young age.

I started drinking when I was eleven and smoking my dad’s weed too. Before too long it was party drugs, ecstasy and whatever else I could get my hands on.

When my dad got murdered, I didn’t know what to do so went right off the rails and started smoking ice. That became my Kryptonite, and I was fueled by anger. I thought I was unstoppable; it wasn’t a good way to live life.

As an adult, I was in a long-term relationship, and we had three beautiful children. I was working hard but leading a double life by taking drugs at night. Eventually, all this seeped into my family life, and we separated. My kids were my everything, but I wasn’t allowed to see them.

I had been in the court system since I was twelve. But only did one stint in jail in 2017. During my incarceration, my ex-partner had given birth to a baby boy, I didn’t get to see my son for two years. That was my breaking point. I knew I had to seek help.

A friend gave me the details for Bayside Transformations and within three weeks I departed Melbourne and arrived in Hervey Bay.

In the beginning, I found it hard to open up and share my story. It was so confronting because of the shame and guilt that I felt about not being a good father. That is why I put it off for so long. It seemed so much easier to just push all those feelings away. This time, I had to get in the right headspace and have the courage to deal with the emotions to get rid of that old way of living.

To be in a loving and safe place with other people around me who are trying to do the same thing made the experience a little easier.

Since being in the Peer-to-Peer Addiction Recovery program, I have learnt many life skills that I wasn’t taught while growing up. Bayside Transformations gave me back that sense of belonging.

The program took me seventeen months to complete, and my life has changed so much. I now have hope and have reunited with my kids.

I also don’t have one court date to worry about and I don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore. Every stronghold in my life is gone apart from freedom. I have joy back in my life and I am now getting the chance to help people get the same help that I got.

Moving forward, I plan to do the same as Tara and am the resident leader of the men’s house. The best thing about Bayside Transformations is that a lot of the mentors are former graduates themselves, so they know about addiction on a personal level which is very important. They are all volunteers and talk to you from a place of love because they want people to change and break the cycle of addiction.

A little about the program:

Transformations is an evidence-based, faith-supported, peer-to-peer support community that helps set people free from addiction. Founded on a therapeutic community model and supported by individualised case management, group therapy and psychoeducation curriculum, Transformations helps clients address the core reasons behind their addictions.

To find out more head to

All the graduates

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