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Leading alcohol & drug clinician joins Ocean Hills

Updated: Jul 11

Ocean Hills is thrilled to welcome registered nurse Stephanie van Waas as our Clinical Manager.

Bringing a wealth of experience and qualifications from working in the alcohol and drug sector for many years, Stephanie will take each Ocean Hills guest from the beginning to the end of their journey with us: from entry to exit.

Stephanie will clinically assess each guest and oversee all of their clinical care while staying at Ocean Hills, through from detox to rehab.

The leading alcohol & drug clinician has worked for the Salvation Army Bridge Programme (a public alcohol and drug rehab facility), for the Home Detox Services Team within Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) and also Pitman House in Auckland, a medical detoxification service.

She also has counselling and group facilitation skills, which she has put into practice in many of her jobs, most recently as a mental health clinician delivering an intensive day programme.

Decades of leading alcohol and drug clinicians

Stephanie also worked as a mental health and addictions Clinical Nurse Educator.

Although she has been involved in a broad range of nursing since she trained in the 1980s, her foray into addiction-specific work started with work experience for the Salvation Army back in 2007, where she became a sole-charge practice nurse developing and delivering the health education programme.

“I was fascinated by the work and the people and really enjoyed it,” says Stephanie, who moved from Auckland to the Hawke’s Bay about five years ago.

sign post against sunset
Addiction clinicians help you find your way into sobriety.

A passion for working with people affected by addiction

“I like the possibility of change,” Stephanie says. “I like being part of that hope and that journey. It’s wonderful to work with people across the spectrum who have made change and gotten more involved in life again. They can become quite a different person and make some really significant internal changes to succeed and grow.”

Meeting Ocean Hills founder and recovering alcoholic of 18 years Elaine Atkinson was what attracted Stephanie into doing consulting work at the private facility in Hastings.

“I met Elaine and she explained where she came from, and her passion for recovery and wanting to create this opportunity and place for people to come and start on their journey.”

She was impressed with the high standards of Ocean Hills and its reputation as a high-quality private rehab.

"My values aligh with those held by the Ocean Hills team which demonstrates passion in their work and hold the very real hope and belief in the power of change."

Sobriety: one day at a time

She says that mental health is more important than ever for everyone but in particular for people starting a journey of sustainable sobriety.

“I work incredibly hard on my own mental health. I’m very active – I’m what you call an active relaxer. I’m both a reader and a knitter and an avid gardener. I’m very much an outdoor person but I also know the benefit of being able to be still and use my mindfulness skills.”

Many people, including those who have turned to substances to cope with daily life and find themselves unable to stop, are too busy focusing on what’s going on externally.

“We’re too busy just focusing on the really obvious and not turning internally to notice how we’re coping, how we’re feeling and what’s impacting us. When we do that, we’re not going to make lasting change. That change starts with ‘just today’.

“If you just focus on today, you can be successful.”

If you're worried about your drinking or that of someone you love, call Elaine on 027 573 7744 for a confidential and compassionate chat. You're never alone.

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