First Step provides expert medical care for addiction and addiction related conditions. We also provide an extensive array of additional support including psychological, psycho-social, mental health and legal support.
Our clinicians all specialise in addiction and are qualified and experienced in both addiction and mental health. At First Step you can receive support for the physical addiction, underlying psychological factors and aspects of your general life such as employment and legal concerns.
This is what makes First Step not only unique but effective.
Your addiction medicine Doctor (GP)
Your doctor forms the core of your support team at First Step, providing your initial consultation, primary care and point of referral. If required your doctor can formulate a Care Plan with you, connecting you to the services of a psychologist and/or mental health nurse at First Step and or pyschiatrist. Within this triangle of care, your doctor can work with you on:
- replacement pharmacotherapy (methadone, buprenorphine, suboxone or naltrexone)
reducing your usage of illicit or prescription medications moving towards abstinence
- referring you to the relevant specialist or form of treatment
- treating all of your health care needs (including general medecine)
Psychology and counselling
As part of a Care Plan the doctor may refer you to one of First Step’s Psychologists or Mental Health Nurses. These services may also be available to your partner or family members. Medicare funds 10 sessions over a calendar year with a psychologist.
As part of a Care Plan your doctor may refer you to a mental health nurse. A great many people with drug or alcohol dependence also need support to improve their mental health. First Step’s Mental Health Nurses are qualified to help you with:
– psychiatric medicines (which drug, the dosing schedule and minimising side-effects)
– replacement pharmacotherapy (how best to make this work for you)
– specialised assessment tools that will help us deliver a complete, whole-person approach to your treatment
What is a Mental Health Care Plan:
If appropriate, your doctor can develop a Mental Health Care Plan with you which will provide access to Medicare funded additional clinical services at no cost to you. A Mental Health Care Plan:
- enables you to see clinicians who specialise in addiction with no out-of-pocket expenses
- assists in setting and achieving goals
- enables you to be more involved in your own care and manages long term care in a clear concise way
- provides an essential checklist to ensure continuity of care and encourages a team approach to the patient-centred plan
- focuses on improving and maintaining health rather than waiting for illness onset
- improves you and your family’s/carer’s awareness of which services are needed and why.
Medical, Mental Health and Psychological Services
Doctors, Psychologists and/or Mental Health Nurses can form part of your addiction medicine team. Clinicians at First Step work with the individual and collaboratively (team medicine) to achieve the best possible outcomes for every person seeking our help.
A psychologist will help you:
- with support and care
- manage anxiety, depression and stress
- with repairing damaged relationships
- heal painful memories and gain personal insights
- create a better future by finding new goals and practising new habits
A mental health nurse will help you:
- by answering any questions you may have about your treatment and exploring realistic treatment options into the future. A mental health nurse will often have more time than our GP’s to discuss the issues affecting you, for example treatment and support for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse,
- by supporting you through your pathway of recovery from addiction. This can include support with other issues that may be affecting your recovery, such as: legal problems; housing issues; mental health problems, for example depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis; or anything you identify as significant to your recovery from addiction.
- by helping you navigate the supports available, ensuring your recovery program is effectively coordinated and that you are being linked with other internal and external services to ensure your needs are appropriately met.
Hepatitis C – First Step Healthy Liver Clinic
Hepatitis C (Hep C) is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus which is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. The infection often shows no initial symptoms, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver. In some cases, those with severe scarring (cirrhosis) may go on to develop liver failure or liver cancer.
Within only 6 months of intravenous drug use, 50-80% of drug users test positive for Hep C.
There is treatment available for Hep C at First Step. Our Hep C clinic runs every Monday afternoon with an infectious diseases physician (Dr Suman Majumdar) and Clinical Nurse Consultant (Sally Watkinson). Appointments can be made to have a chat about how to keep your liver healthy.
Contact First Step to make an appointment to see our Hep C nurse to:
- Learn if you have Hep C,
- Receive information about how to live with Hep C or Hep B and care for your liver,
- Look at starting treatment for Hep C.
- Please note that the First Step Healthy Liver Clinic is happy to establish a shared care relationship with your First Step GP for the delivery of Hep C treatment.
Hepatitis Australia: www.hepatitisaustralia.com
First Step Legal
First Step Legal is a criminal law community legal centre that supports clients of First Step who are battling addiction and substance abuse issues. First Step Legal provides pro bono and/or low cost legal advice and representation to eligible clients actively engaged in treatment with the health service providers at First Step.
First Step Legal is unique in that it is a community legal centre that, from its inception, offered legal assistance on a pro bono basis, however receives no state or federal government assistance.
The stress of pending criminal proceedings and other (non-criminal) legal issues can lead to ill health and periods of relapse and reoffending. The objective of First Step Legal is to provide an on-site, fully funded legal service to clients of First Step, in order to ensure that legal issues, and in particular, historical criminal offending do not derail their rehabilitation efforts. First Step Legal aims to reduce the burden and stress on clients arising from their legal issues, thereby allowing the rehabilitative work of the First Step health service to continue uninterrupted.
In addition, First Step Legal ensures that clients are well-informed about the legal process throughout the proceedings, to enable them to make informed decisions. The First Step treating professionals are advised of the status of the proceedings, at each stage of the process, to ensure that the client receives adequate support throughout this stressful period. Moreover, having the legal service situated on-site with the First Step Health service, facilitates a more trusting relationship between client and lawyer, such that the lawyer becomes a part of the triangular rehabilitation model of care.
First Step Legal has achieved top tier (Tier one) accreditation from the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC).
Our principal lawyer, Tania Wolff, is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist through the Law Institute of Victoria.
Eligible clients are patients of First Step (health service) who are actively engaged in treatment and may be facing criminal proceedings in Victoria or have other legal issues such as tenancy, infringement, intervention order, civil debt, or family law issues.
Where the legal service does not have the resources to directly handle the matter ourselves, we make referrals to practitioners who are experienced in practice in the relevant area of law. Our referrals are carefully considered and the outcomes are reported back to us by the practitioners to whom we have referred our client.
First Step patients can ask to speak to a lawyer at First Step Legal who will determine if they are eligible for support from this service.
Contact the clinic on 9537 3177.
To find out more about First Step Legal and issues of concern and relevance to our practice, please click on the link to our blog below:
First Step’s ongoing focus on providing a comprehensive suite of clinical and non-clinical programs lead to the creation of our Second Step Program. Getting back to work can be one of the biggest and most difficult steps in a person’s return to a feeling of self-worth and of contributing to society. Many illicit drug users have been out of work for some time, some have a criminal records, and many just don’t know where to begin to get things back on track. That’s what ‘Second Step’ is for. We specialise in overcoming those obstacles to workplace participation, within the framework of ongoing rehabilitation at First Step
Second Step facilitates the transition to work by providing the time and space to re-engage with the ‘normal’ working world and develop or re-establish the routines, habits and relationships that go along with it. We are able to provide training as well as linking in with other clinical and non-clinical services.
Once you have started receiving support at First Step you can talk to one of our clinicians (doctor, nurse) about Second Step and getting back to work.
Second Step staff members select possible candidates for the program considering:
- previous work experience and/or skills
- client/patient’s mental and physical health
- the candidates need for assistance
- the home situation
The candidates, with the support of First Step staff members, are offered a pre-employment
selection and training program that helps establish:
- work readiness (resumé writing and interview skills),
- areas of skill and interest,
- work options.
Second Step can arrange for any further development such as training, apprenticeships or tertiary education.
Once a candidate has been selected, a position is canvassed within one of First Step’s participating workplaces, such as Toll Group, or in open employment. The positions can be full or part-time which will accommodate external training. These are real jobs, with real pay and regular working conditions. Only your supervisor will know that you are participating in the Second Step Program and everything required of a regular employee (and probably more) will be required of you. It’s a real job for 12 months that usually leads to further employment at that or another workplace.
For more information about our Practice