Before rehab, Alex was fighting his addiction, homeless and doing community service in Melbourne. He had been convicted of driving offences and drug trafficking, narrowing escaping prison. His family had seen him on Crime Stoppers.
Despite growing up with divorced parents, Alex says he had a fantastic childhood. His parents did their best to ensure the three kids never went without and enjoyed regular trips away.
Alex worked hard at school and had a part time job working nights at a fruit market when he was 16.
‘I was obsessed about money,’ he says. ‘I started working, started saving a lot of money. I couldn’t really stay awake at school so I started on drugs.’
Alex started using amphetamines to keep working, but soon moved onto ice. He encouraged friends to use as well and life got out of control as his addiction got worse.
‘It had nothing to do with my family,’ he says. ‘It was a choice that I made to take drugs. My brother and sister are normal.’
The relationship suffered when Alex’s addiction continued. He fought with his father and they didn’t speak for a year and a half. His mother supported him through a previous rehab experience that didn’t stick.
‘There are so many bad times. Using against my will. I was using and crying. I wanted to stop so bad and I just didn’t know how. And then I knew how and I just couldn’t,’ Alex says.
‘Before coming into the Hader Clinic, I didn’t talk to my family for about 12 months. It was appalling, actually. Really sad.’
Alex missed his family but was too ashamed to see them while he was using. He slept in his car until his family took it away so he wouldn’t go to prison for driving offences.
‘I was homeless. I had nowhere to go for about nine months. I was sleeping on people’s couches. Showering in truck stops, it was just unmanageable. I was living like a proper junkie,’ he says. ‘I was falling asleep anywhere. I fell asleep on people’s floors, in their back yards, wherever.’
He couldn’t afford rehab but when he asked for help Hader offered Alex one of their community beds in Geelong. He detoxed and began his recovery.
‘It was emotional. At the time I was really messy. I hadn’t slept in a lot of days.’
His family didn’t visit him for the first few weeks and his father was upset that it had come to this. But through family counselling and support, things have improved. Alex was given a week out of rehab to visit his family and make amends.
‘It was the best thing for me, visiting my family I hadn’t seen in months,’ he says. ‘It was an emotional time, but now we’ve got the best relationship.’
Alex has missed some important life events in rehab – his sister celebrated her engagement and his brother was in hospital – but his relationship with his parents and siblings has never been stronger.
Alex has been in recovery nine months. He turned 25 in rehab. When Hader offered him the opportunity to move to their Brisbane facility, he saw it as a chance to start fresh.
‘For so long I was stuck using and stuck in the same home town. I couldn’t leave without drugs and now I’m clean doors are opening for me.’
Once he’s completed his rehab, Alex will study to become a drug and alcohol counsellor through Hader’s registered training program to help other people with addiction. His girlfriend, who started rehab the same day as Alex, is still in Victoria, but their relationship is better than ever. Hader’s couples counselling has helped them improve their communication and being clean has strengthened their relationship.
‘We communicate on a normal level. We did couple’s counselling in Melbourne, we both work the steps,’ Alex says.
‘When you’re in a relationship when you’re using, it’s a real mess. You’re not worrying about each other that much. But we got clean together and we really talk about everything. No secrets.’
Since starting rehab, Alex has increased to a healthy weight. He’s not looking too far into the future, focussing on his recovery and staying clean. But he’s feeling like a new world of opportunities is open to him now.
‘Hader has helped me in every way – they taught me how to brush my teeth again, how to do my own washing, how to cook,’ Alex says.
‘They’ve taught me how to live as a human being.’