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Shelley Johnston

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Specialist , AOD Service

Shelley Johnston

Shelley Johnston has many strings to her bow, including degrees in behavioural science and physical education, but a bachelor degree in alcohol and drug studies led to her role as an AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) specialist.

Shelley joined the Tui Ora whānau in August 2017 and is enjoying the change from the DHB where she worked in the same area, but in a hospital environment.

"I really enjoy connecting with the community. It happens here in a way I hadn't experienced before where we regularly visit clients in their homes."

Shelley works alongside colleague Rod Vennik caring for clients who have mental health and addiction problems. They support tangata whaiora to set their own recovery goals and support them through the process.

"Building a good rapport with clients is essential. They need to feel comfortable telling you the truth, knowing that you won't judge them and that you will still help them.

"Usually there is an underlying issue that creates bigger problems down the path. You need to address that problem and try and solve that before you can move on. People often need help untangling their thoughts and understanding why they do what they do."

Shelley says that alcohol, due to its relative affordability and availability, can be hugely damaging to individuals and their families. Alcohol dependence and chronic relapsing often have knock on effects, such as family violence and financial hardship, that have a spiral affect on whānau.

Shelley says understanding where a client is at before they begin treatment is key:

"Are they contemplating their recovery, are they determined to get better? You then need to work on a realistic and achievable plan to help them get there."

Shelley works collaboratively with other support services in Tui Ora, as well as external support agencies like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Originally, from Taranaki, Shelley has lived and studied in San Francisco. She has a 20-year-old son.

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