December 2018 - Hader Clinic Queensland

New Year, New You – How To Pick The Best Rehab

It’s a perfect time to finally get treatment for an addiction. A new year, a new life. But how do you pick a rehab? Do you go through the public health system or opt for a private drug rehab centre?

Choosing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for a loved one struggling with addiction can be an overwhelming task and working out which treatment facility is right for your loved one might seem just too difficult.

To make your life a little easier, check out the top things to consider when choosing a rehab.

Quick admission

Getting a loved one to agree to entering a rehab can be very difficult; so when your loved one experiences a moment of clarity and sees reason, quick admission can be vital. Queensland’s public health drug and alcohol services are in huge demand – often with long waiting lists. Typically for entry to a public service you may be looking at anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months for admission.

The Hader Clinic Queensland does not have a waiting list, so you can have your loved one admitted to residential treatment within 24 hours of contacting us.

In-house detox

Another potential reason to choose a private rehab rather than a public one is the detox process.

Queensland public rehabilitation centres will not admit patients prior to undergoing detox. Detox services are available through public health service, but, if you don’t have private health insurance, you will have to undergo detox through Queensland Health’s Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service (HADS), where there are limited beds available, and if you are lucky to get a bed, you have to hope there is availability in a rehab centre directly upon completion to minimise the risk of relapse prior to admission.

The Hader Clinic Queensland provides in-house detox, with our own GPs, counsellors, therapists and support staff and upon completion of detox, clients begin the rehabilitation treatment immediately.

You should make sure to ask a private rehab about their detox approach. Detoxing from drugs or alcohol can be a harrowing experience, so you want your loved one to get the best care possible. Medical and psychological monitoring around the clock, readily available support staff and, if necessary, use of medication to ease the early stages of withdrawal are part of any effective detox plan.

Accreditation and licensing

If a private rehab centre is not officially accredited and licensed, you should think very carefully about choosing it.

Official accreditation means an independent assessor has thoroughly examined a rehabilitation facility and deemed it effective, efficient and up to the national standard of operations.

The Hader Clinic Queensland is the only private drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Queensland with accreditation from The Australian Council of Healthcare Standards (ACHS).

Approved provider

Ask your rehab if they have been approved by the Australian Government to be an approved provider of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA).

The DVA issues health cards to veterans, their war widow(er)s and dependants to ensure they have access to health and other care services.
White and Gold DVA Health Card holders can undertake a residential addiction rehabilitation treatment program at an approved private rehab for no cost, with immediate admission with a doctor’s referral.

The Hader Clinic Queensland is an approved provider of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for Australian Government Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) patients and therefore can provide White and Gold DVA Health Card holders with immediate access, at no cost, to the residential treatment program (doctor’s referral required).

Recovery rate

It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to check out the long term recovery rate of any private rehab you are considering. That way you can make sure your loved one has the best chance to get better. If a rehab won’t tell you this, or doesn’t display their recovery rates publicly, ask yourself “why?”

The Hader Clinic’s most recent audit revealed that 74% of patients completing the 90 Day Addiction Treatment Program and aftercare program have remained drug and/or alcohol free.

Multidisciplinary treatment plan

Addiction is a multifaceted issue and requires what is known as a multidisciplinary approach. An effective and efficient rehab should provide medical treatment (i.e. during detox), mental health services, physical therapy and addiction counselling; and have qualified and accredited staff to provide these services.

The Hader Clinic Queensland’s addiction treatment model comprises five areas of treatment; physical, emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual. It includes Detox, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Individual Counselling, Group Therapy, Family Therapy, Addiction Education, 12 Step, Exercise, Meditation, Art Therapy and Therapeutic Community.

Dual diagnosis treatment / mental health

Substance abuse issues often co-occur with a variety of mental health issues and addiction treatment has been proven substantially more effective when addiction and mental health issues are treated alongside each other – an approach known as integrated treatment or dual diagnosis treatment.

It is essential to make sure your chosen rehab offers a dual diagnosis program to treat addiction and mental health issues at the same time.

The Hader Clinic Queensland are mental health and addiction specialists. Therapists and counsellors work closely with dual diagnosis residents to determine if one problem led to the other. We create personalised treatment plans that address both issues without causing new problems to arise.

Aftercare and relapse prevention

Recovery does not end when you complete a residential addiction treatment program. In fact, returning to ‘reality’ brings its own challenges, where you are surrounded by all the triggers of your addiction.

You should make sure the rehab you choose for your loved one offers comprehensive aftercare and relapse prevention programs to help them adjust to regular life without drugs or alcohol.

The Hader Clinic Queensland offers transitional housing to everyone completing the addiction treatment program, as well as an open-ended aftercare and relapse prevention program including regular counselling sessions, family therapy and group therapy.

Treatment duration

Most rehabilitation facilities offer a variety of durations for their addiction treatment programs, 14, 30 and 90 day programs are commonly seen.
You should carefully consider the duration bearing in mind how likely it is to achieve successful treatment for addiction – an often complex illness involving mental health issues.

Clinical research proves there is a greater chance of long term recovery from addiction when treatment is undertaken for a minimum of 90 days.

Short programs might sound enticing as a “quick-fix” but they are more likely to result in relapse.

The Hader Clinic Queensland provides both a 30 day and 90 day addiction treatment program and both can be extended if required. Our assessment team will discuss your addiction and mental health history and determine which program duration is suitable for you.

Family services

Addiction is not only hard on the addict, but also on their family. Family’s are often “broken” at the time of treatment with relationships badly damaged.

For successful treatment it is important that your rehab has programs in place to address these issues, both for the addict and the family members.

Your loved one can benefit hugely from family involvement in the recovery process, and so can you.

When choosing a rehab, ask them if they have a family program and if so, what is involved.

The Hader Clinic Queensland has an integrated family therapy program. Our family therapy provides family members with professional and supportive counselling sessions with a therapist who understands the pain addiction can cause others. An expert therapist will work with members of the family to help their personal trauma and recovery. Family group nights are also held (with online access for anyone who cannot attend in person) to bring families together for education, help and to create a new ongoing support network.

Family Involvement after Rehabilitation

The process of recovery continues long after completion of a residential addiction treatment program. Once you are back in the “real-world” the support of family and friends is helpful to a recovering addict.

When your loved one returns home after treatment, they’ll need assistance to readjust to their new life without drugs or alcohol. They will need to:

  • Repair broken relationships
  • Avoid relapse triggers
  • Learn how to be themselves again without drugs or alcohol

Your support can give them the courage to keep on their journey when it feels too hard.

As your loved one settles back into family life, it can be difficult to know the best way to help them. Here are some tips.

Healthy boundaries

When your loved one was in active addiction, you may have found it hard to set healthy boundaries.

ending them money, driving them places, and even helping them avoid responsibilities may have seemed like you were helping them when the addiction was in control.

Having been involved in the family therapy sessions during your loved one’s addiction treatment program you will now recognise that behaviour as enabling.
Agreeing on family rules and being prepared to say no may be hard, but it’s exactly what your loved one needs to stay drug and alcohol free.

Listen

Taking the time to listen to your loved one, without judgement, will mean more than you realise.

You may not be happy to hear about your loved one’s addiction and rehabilitation, but giving them the freedom to talk about their experiences and challenges will make them feel respected and supported.

Find support

As a parent, spouse or child of an addict, you have experienced the trauma of addiction too.

Taking care of your own support needs is essential, especially if your loved one is relying on you.

Attending support groups with your loved one is part of the recovery process for both of you, but you may also benefit from a group for the families of addicts.

Support groups will expose you to a wider world of addiction and recovery to help you better understand what your loved one has experienced and the effect on you and the rest of the family.

Hearing from people farther along in the recovery journey may give you insight into what’s happening and give you strength in hard times.

Understand cravings and triggers

After rehabilitation your loved one will still be an addict, but they will be in recovery.

As they learn to live their new life, they will likely experience cravings for drugs or alcohol. Rather than deny these cravings exist, talk to your loved one about what triggers these cravings.

There may be certain social situations, stress, or people who trigger cravings for drugs or alcohol. You can help them avoid or reduce triggers or help distract them to resist the temptation of their addiction.

This may mean making some changes in your own life to support your loved one’s sobriety.

Develop healthy habits

Taking care of your own health can be an immense support for your loved one in recovery.

Making changes in your life, such as not drinking at home, will not only improve your own health, it will help your loved one develop healthier habits as well.

Eating well and having a regular exercise routine will help you to support your loved one by being physically and psychologically healthier.

If your loved one doesn’t live with you, having a regular family meal together can provide routine and show your support.

Recognise relapse

Addiction is a lifelong challenge. Your loved one may relapse on their journey to recovery.

Recognising the signs of relapse can ensure your loved one gets the support they need quickly.

Behaviour such as lying, hiding things and being secretive are warning signs of relapse.

Your loved one may return to their old lifestyle, hanging out with old friends from their period of addiction.

Other signs include poor hygiene and personal appearance, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, or inability to concentrate.

Respect each other

Addiction affects the whole family. Recovery is a process everyone in the family will go through in different ways. Respecting each other’s experiences and challenges will help you all move from addiction to recovery and return to a normal life.

More information

Establishing Family Boundaries
5 Ways to Support a Loved One with Addiction
Nature or Nature? What Causes Addiction?
Family Issues
Family Therapy

Presence not Presents – Christmas as a Recovering Addict and a Mum

As a mother of 3 children I always found Christmas to be one of my favourite times of the year.

My house was always filled with Christmas decorations and had the facade of joy and laughter.

And I was always a proud single mum – my house on Christmas morning was always filled with everything material my kids had ever wanted.

But looking back on my last Christmas in active addiction I hold my head in shame.

Not only did I spend Christmas Eve high on drugs while preparing the kids toys for Christmas, but when Christmas morning came, I hadn’t been to bed or slept at all.

I looked at the clock at 5am and got changed into my PJ’s thinking I could outsmart the kids, that they would believe I had been to sleep.

Watching my children’s faces light up when they saw a room full of presents, in my mind, justified my using.

In my sick head I thought my kids had all the things they wanted. They did not know the gifts were bought from ill-gotten gains.

After spending the morning at home with just the kids it was time to head to my parents’ house for Christmas lunch.

Over the past 2 years I hadn’t really had much contact with my family. This made turning on Christmas day very nerve racking for me.

So I thought the only way I could deal with it was to have a 4ml plunge of GHB before leaving home and before starting the 45-minute drive to my parents’ home.

All dressed up for Christmas day, I loaded the kids into the car along with all the presents for the family.

This is when my addiction really showed its true form for the first time in 23 years of active addiction.

Looking back, I felt so ashamed.

Driving along a country road in Melbourne with my 3 children in the car I started ‘blowing out’, (which I have learnt in recovery is the closest thing to death, without actually dying), only to be awoken by my 11 year old daughter screaming “Mum, mum, you just fell asleep”, veering onto the dirt side of the road.

I remember waking and bringing the car back to the road.

This happened once more on the way to the family home, I remember putting my window down and saying to myself over and over again in my head…STAY AWAKE, STAY AWAKE…

Arriving at my family’s house, the first thing I did was go to the toilet and smoke ice as I knew this would over-ride what I had taken at home.

Not only was I shaking by the near miss in the car on the way over, but I realised if my daughter hadn’t woken me up, I could have killed my children on Christmas day.

Totally ashamed I believed the only thing that would get me through the day with the family was to take more drugs.

Looking back, now 18 months clean, I can see how truly sick I was, how clouded my judgement was, even though I thought the drugs made me more aware.

Worst of all, I now clearly knew my stupid actions had put mine and my children’s lives in danger.

I love my children dearly and they always had the best of everything, they had the best material things, but not the best mum I could be.

I wasn’t there for them the way a mother should be there for her children.

18 months on I am a proud mother in recovery.

I have a story I’m not very proud of. A story full of guilt and shame.

Past things that I am still working very hard to let go of, so they do not shape mine or my children’s future.

As Christmas comes around again I still have the memories of the horrors of that Christmas 2 years ago. Something or someone was definitely watching over us that day.

This Christmas is going to be totally different to any other Christmas my family is used to.

There will be very few presents under the tree, but my children will have me present for the day. They will have my presence, unconditionally.

Today, thanks to the addiction recovery program I completed, my children aren’t put in harms way anymore.

They have a mother who can attend to their needs appropriately. They have a mother who is 100% present and there for them in the moment. They have a mother who isn’t being consumed by how she is going to get the next hit.

And we will all have a family Christmas full of love, laughter and blessings.

Read more

How To Support An Addict In Recovery Over Christmas
An addict’s Christmas survival guide – Tis the season to stay sober
Women’s Addiction Treatment

Signs of Ice Addiction

Do you know how to read the signs of ice addiction?

Maybe you have started to notice a family member or friend is behaving out of character? Something is different, but you’re not sure what it is? You might start to suspect that they may be under the influence of a drug, or combination of drugs. The first question is often is “which drug?” Is it ice? Are they showing the signs of ice addiction?

The signs of ice addiction

To help you answer that question we have put together a series of quick guides to help you try and identify which drug is being used.  This guide is about learning to tell the signs of an ice/methamphetamine addition.

About ice

Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, glass, P and shabu is a stimulant drug, that speeds up body’s processes, affecting our body’s sympathetic (flight or fight) system.

It’s usually injected, snorted or smoked, and is clear and crystalline in appearance, hence its nickname.

Signs of using ice

These physical objects are common signs of using ice:

  • Bags of crystalline powder
  • Implements that may be used to administer the drug. These include needles/syringes, glass pipes, etc. Ball point pens’ inner casings may be used as straws, as well as regular straws to snort ice
  • Aluminium foil (used to measure and secure an ice dose)
  • Cans with punctures in them may indicate that the drug is being smoked

Behavioural, emotional and physical signs of using ice

Behavioural, emotional and physical signs that a loved one may be using the drug ice, or under the influence of ice include:

  • Feelings of pleasure and an appearance of your loved one as being overconfident may occur.
  • Being unusually alert and wakeful. Sleeplessness is a key sign of being under the influence of ice.
  • Continual repetition of certain actions like itching and scratching. It’s common with long term use for a loved one to be covered in scabs that are a result of the ice user picking at their skin.
  • Rapid weight loss and loss of appetite as a result of overstimulation of the nervous system. The appetite is quickly regained as the user withdraws from the drug.
  • Increased sex drive. Your loved one may be engaging in sexual relationships with multiple partners or be unusually libidinous.
  • Dental issues – teeth grinding and tooth decay. With longer term use, the combination of bad breath, rotting teeth and inhibition of saliva (dry mouth syndrome) result in what users describe as “meth mouth”.
  • Sweating more profusely and that sweat being unusually odorous.
  • Lack of attention to physical grooming or personal hygiene.
  • Dilating pupils – with prolonged use of ice the pupils of the eyes may dilate and stay that way for hours, which a user may cover up with sunglasses.
  • Continual twitching around the eyes.

Withdrawal signs of ice addiction

Over a period of time, ice can become both physically and psychologically addictive and a user may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Increased appetite
  • Aches and pains
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cravings for the drug and irritability

These symptoms occur because the brain’s production of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which affects emotion and feelings of pleasure, plummets.
More immediate symptoms of the drug effect wearing off include:

  • Being lethargic
  • Sleeping for an unusually long amount of time

Drug induced psychosis

The most dangerous effect of ice use is the potential for drug induced psychosis.
High, and frequent doses of ice may induce ice psychosis. This condition is characterised by violent, aggressive or bizarre behaviour as well as feeling of delusion and paranoia.

These symptoms will disappear a few days after withdrawal of the drug, but its effect of “burning out” neurotransmitters such as dopamine, lingers for months after withdrawal resulting in the user feeling devoid of emotion or having a short emotional range of feeling.

Not all symptoms and signs of ice addiction listed above may be readily apparent, however with increased drug use will become very obvious.

More information

If you would like to know more about ice addiction and available treatment, please read:
Ice Addiction
Residential Addiction Treatment
Mental Health Effects of Ice
Ice Addiction in Women

Recovery stories

The good news is that with correct treatment long-term recovery from ice addiction is possible. For an insight into ice addiction and recovery please read these real-life stories:
I Was An Army Officer. And An Ice Addict.
DJ – My Addiction Experience
Our Son Is An Addict, What Do We Do?

How To Support An Addict In Recovery Over Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and families around Australia are starting to plan their holiday get-togethers.

For families and friends of recovering addicts the festive season can hold some unique challenges.

As Christmas is traditionally a time of indulgence, it can be a minefield of triggers for people in the process of breaking unhealthy patterns of behaviour – and by extension can cause a lot of headaches for their nearest and dearest.

Being supportive of a loved one’s recovery process is important, but at times it can be difficult to know where to start.

To help you make your Christmas a joyful event for all involved, here’s a quick guide to navigating the holiday traps and triggers.

Remove temptation and triggers

If you have a friend or family member who is recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction, the best thing you can do for them is to minimise triggers at your Christmas lunch/dinner/party.

Stocking your eskie with soft drinks rather than beer, wine and spirits can make all the difference to a person in recovery.

By removing temptation, you can give them the freedom to relax and feel safe during your Christmas party.

If you think that some guests might take issue with this, it is wise to inform them beforehand that this year you are having a dry Christmas – no exceptions.

In the unlikely event that someone should absolutely refuse to celebrate without alcohol it is perfectly fine to tell them not to attend.

If you can accept their priorities, they should accept yours.

Play it cool

It sounds simple, but not making a big deal out of your loved one’s newfound sobriety can be incredibly difficult.

You might have the urge to constantly tell them how proud you are of their recovery efforts, or feel the need to point out just how supportive you are, for example declaring something like “Look, we’ve got all this juice! No one’s drinking just because of you.”

While you of course have only the best of intentions, being excessively vocal about someone else’s recovery process, and your part in it, can make recovering addicts very uncomfortable.

Firstly, it draws focus on their issues with addiction and that is not a particularly pleasant sensation.

Secondly, it might make your recovering loved one feel as though their needs are inconveniencing the rest of the party.

So, this Christmas be mindful of your loved one’s needs and simply allow them to enjoy themselves in a safe environment.

Have realistic expectations

Depending on which stage of recovery your loved one is currently going through, it might drastically impact their desire to attend any Christmas get-togethers at all.

During the early stages some recovering addicts might be daunted by the prospect of facing the entire family at once, especially if their substance abuse issues have caused conflict in the past.

If your loved one does not feel up to attending a massive party, do not force the issue. It is enough for you to let them know they are welcome AND to make it clear that, while you will miss them, you will not be offended if they would rather not come.

If your recovering loved one does decide to join you for the festivities, it’s still important to be mindful of their needs. Perhaps they will only stay for a little while before needing to take a break; perhaps they will need to call their recovery counsellor or sponsor at some point for extra support; perhaps they will be happiest sitting and observing without engaging in too much conversation – all of this is fine. It is not your job to nag your loved one into having a good time, the best you can do is provide them with safe conditions to socialise. Realistic expectations are not just to be applied to your loved one but also to yourself.

Be brave and have a conversation

It can be very hard to talk to recovering loved ones about their needs and ongoing issues, especially without the help of a family therapist. If you are concerned about how your loved one will cope over the Christmas period, don’t be afraid to invite them to have a conversation before the festive season kicks off.

There is no harm in asking your loved one how they would prefer to be supported during this time – just as there is nothing wrong with sharing your own worries about the celebrations ahead. In some cases it might be helpful to schedule an appointment with your family counsellor or therapist to mediate any points of contention. Even if your recovering loved one might be apprehensive at first, you might be surprised how much they will appreciate your willingness to face difficult topics.

Christmas, above all things, is about love and kindness and sharing a special time with those closest to us – even if things are rarely ever perfect. This year, strive to appreciate every good or perhaps even great moment; and rest assured that being supportive and understanding is the best gift you can give your recovering loved one.

Merry Christmas and best of luck.

Living With an Addict

Susan’s been married to John for seven years. John, who was addicted to ice and amphetamines, undertook the residential addiction treatment program at the Hader Clinic Queensland.

To reach the point where John could undertake rehabilitation, Susan had to learn about how addiction “works”. A book written by Jackson Oppy of the The Hader Clinic did just that.

Susan has agreed to share her story about John’s addition and her involvement in his recovery.

Living With An Addict

John’s had an addiction for years – on and off, on and off, on and off. I didn’t understand anything about addiction at that time, so every time he had a bout of using drugs, it would never be addressed. Instead, it would be swept under the carpet and he’d get clean for a few months and I’d accept that.

His choice of drugs were amphetamines and ice. He started with amphetamines and progressed to ice.

John’s my second husband and his addiction started way before he met me.

When I met John, I was aware he’d use drugs every now and again.

I thought that taking drugs was something people did when they went out – I didn’t understand that it gets to you eventually. It’s an addiction that leaves you wanting more and more.

I never understood that until we separated for 18 months (as a result of John’s drug use escalating).

As John’s addiction grew, I was admittedly in the dark as to what was going on.

Then I discovered that John was using behind my back. I just didn’t see it.

When I did, it all came to a head and resulted in a big family argument. John left the home and his addiction spiralled from there.

John’s mum is a big enabler. She put John into her rental property and did a lot of things enablers do, which just made the problem worse and allowed the drug taking behaviours to continue.

We were both terribly upset by our separation. I was in a world of hurt. At that time, I still didn’t understand addiction.

Learning about addiction

A chance request for help by a family member opened the door to some much needed education about addiction.

I had my nephew come and stay with me.

He’d just gotten out of rehab for ice addiction and asked if he could stay with me awhile. I said, “yes, he could,” and I went to an NA meeting with him.
I was sitting there, listening to these people speak about addiction and their struggles, and I thought, “this is my husband”.

And that’s where I started my journey – about learning about addiction, learning about myself.

I was suffering with anxiety and depression as a result of the issue and I ended up seeking counselling.

I started to go to Al Anon meetings and I read Jackson Oppy’s book, “When Hell Freezes Over”. I fell upon it one day and couldn’t put it down.

I learned where I could set boundaries because John would come over, use me for a few days then rack off when he got paid or ask me to keep his key-card.

Then he’d start an argument to trigger something else, so that I’d throw his key-card back at him.

I had to learn things to help him. Because in my way, I was enabling him too – keeping his keycard and allowing him to come over for a few days before pay day just wasn’t helping.

I also spent a lot of time in counselling unravelling the connection between my self-esteem and John’s drug use.

I beat myself up for a lot of years because I wasn’t good enough.

John said it wasn’t about me, but that’s all he ever said. He didn’t tell me WHY so I never understood.

I continued to beat myself up about his addiction; I’m not a good enough wife, not good enough for this or that because before John, the father of my children died of a heroin overdose, so I was still with someone that had an addiction.

He’s been gone 13 years now and back then I thought “what a selfish person” and I beat myself up that I wasn’t good enough for them to want to give up the drugs.

I finally realised it’s not about that.

Getting into rehab

It was Jackson Oppy’s book, that prompted us to seek treatment with The Hader Clinic Queensland.

I ended up telling John’s mother to read the book.

She was driving me insane with her enabling. I got her to read the book and she finally understood.

She said to John, “I’m not going to help you in your addiction anymore, I’m going to help you in your recovery. And if you want to go into rehab then we will pay for it.”

However, John was in denial and not having a bar of it.

This went on for a couple of months but eventually John agreed to go to rehab.

He said, “I’m ready. Yes I’m an addict and I need some help.”

Plus, he was in a lot of trouble. The police wanted him and stuff like that.

Maybe it wouldn’t have taken that long to get John into rehab if it hadn’t been for John’s mother enabling him. I love her to bits, but she couldn’t see what she was doing at the time.

Once my mother in law recognised she was an enabler, we were able to work together to set appropriate boundaries for John.

It wasn’t easy going and even now I’m a bit scared of his mum – sometimes I fear that she will enable John without really realising it.
Sometimes I have to pull her up and say “maybe you shouldn’t have done that”.

During rehab

While John was undergoing his rehab program I participated in the regular online live family counselling sessions that the Hader Clinic Queensland provided. I spoke to John weekly while he was in the rehab. The online meetings were fantastic.

After rehab

Since John’s admission to the 90-day residential addiction treatment program there have been changes that we have made as a family.

I go to meetings with John twice a week. The rest he attends on his own.

I can see that he’s finally getting it.

He’s kinder and we communicate better.

We’ve learned during this time to actually talk to each other, whereas back in the heyday of addiction we’d continually argue, slam doors, walk away and harbour this anger.

Now we don’t – we talk to each other and we both call each other out on issues.

It’s been a tough journey and occasionally I will slip back into thinking I’m not good enough, especially when John relapsed.

I’d have to gently remind myself, “it’s not about you Susan” because I’d bashed myself up for so many years about it.

But we’ve come a long way and our communication has improved out of sight.

We treat each other as equals.

Before, the simplest argument would have spiralled out of control. It was so unpleasant. We just don’t do that anymore.

John unfortunately relapsed when he tried to help someone else who was struggling with an addiction. But he realised that he’s not in a position to do that. So he’s been focusing on helping himself.

I said to him “when you come home, we’re going to concentrate on the future, not the past. Every time you relapse you bring the past back into our lives. That’s not fair – get up, brush yourself off and get to a meeting.”

A new way of life

We’re doing OK.

At the moment I’m the main breadwinner. John is doing a forklift and warehouse management course and community service. I’d rather that John focus on his recovery for now, instead of going back to work. That’s the most important thing.

He really continues to grow and understand the program.

And we’ve made new friends.

The biggest benefit has been being around people who get it. You don’t have to hide or be ashamed.

We go out for dinner with them on a Saturday night. We’re surrounded by people who are supporting each other in recovery.
Previously I’d go to work and nobody there would have an inkling of that side of my life. Now, I can be with people who are just the same. I can be just be me. I can swear if I want to, do what I want to.

Narcotics Anonymous

I go to NA meetings with John to support him. He initially let the meetings slide but he’s realised he needs them.

He’s now got a fellowship of friends. He calls them every day. He got himself a sponsor.

Not long ago John went to a Men’s Retreat with a whole group from NA. That was a great thing for him.

We went to a fundraising convention last weekend. It was fantastic. John did five meetings that day.

The books used at NA are amazing.

I have my own copy of “Just for today” even though I’m not an addict.

I might do a reading, and something may happen in that day that flicks my mind back to that reading. And I find it helps me put things into perspective.

Somebody said to me a long time ago when I started my own journey way before John did, “Susan, keep on your journey because you can lead by example”.

John used to call the NA books my “God” books. Now he no longer thinks that way.

He understands that it’s not about religion but rather a blueprint for living.

The fellowship provided by the couples local NA chapter has allowed us to create a blueprint for the future.

The future

We take every day as it comes.

We are looking forward to going camping at Christmas with the family. Plus, we’re going on a couple’s retreat with NA in March.

My advice

I’d give people that book, I mean, REALLY give them that book.

And tell them to start helping themselves.

Because I knew that if I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t help John. Two sick people can’t help each other.

Our journey together started when John texted me and said “please don’t give up on me”. And I never have.

But I had to find myself first.

And I would advise attending an NA meeting because it will show you that you are good enough and that your loved one’s addiction is not your fault.

It’s not that they would rather use drugs because you’re no fun or not good enough. It’s not about that.

Do not blame yourself.

I blamed myself for the disease of addiction. I just felt so ugly with this burden.

Sometimes I wanted to cut my face up. That’s how bad I felt. I had suicidal thoughts. I wouldn’t have acted on it but the thoughts scared me.

I recommend counselling to help too. It was not until I received counselling that it helped me process everything.

If you don’t set boundaries, your addict loved one will suck the life out of you.

People need a plan. We’d be both so hurt and fractured. We didn’t want to see each other.

You just have to learn the tools to manage addiction and you can come out on top in the end. We’re living proof of that.

I’m so proud of him.

More family stories

I’m a mother, wife and daughter of addicts
Our son is an addict, what do we do?
Breaking the cycle of addiction – a parent’s story

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Nature or nurture, what causes addiction?
5 ways to support a loved one with addiction
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Am I Living With An Addict? by Jackson Oppy

From Addict to Recovery to Helping Addicts – Paula’s Story

Paula is one of our support staff at our Brisbane drug rehab centre. She is also a recovering addict.

We believe it is important, as part of our women’s addiction treatment program that we have staff that can relate to the person in recovery and understand their situation, thoughts and feelings as it helps create an environment where the addict feels safe and secure, and more at ease to open themselves up to the components of the treatment program, resulting in better outcomes.

Paula has kindly offered to share her story.

My name is Paula

Hi, my name is Paula. I work at the Hader Clinic Queensland as a support member for people undertaking the residential addiction treatment program.

I am also a recovering addict.

Here is my story.

I grew up in a broken home with parents who had problems with drug and alcohol addiction. Even though I didn’t want to become like them, every choice I made after my 10th birthday, I was fast becoming them.

So, from the very moment I started using I was using against my will. I didn’t want to use, but I couldn’t stop.

From the age of 13 I was out of home living on the streets but mostly couch surfing.

Then by the age 15 I was pregnant with my first child.

I didn’t want my child to grow up with an addict as a mother but no matter what I did to change my behaviour (I changed states, changed medications, changed partners and stopped using the substance that was causing the most trouble) some way or another the despair would creep back in.

I didn’t know abstinence was a thing. I had just resigned myself to the fact that I was always going to use in one form or another, and so from late teens to mid-twenties my days were spent trying to find the right level of substances in order to function.

My needs versus my bodies capacity to tolerate such amounts were on a different scale and as a result I had many hospital admissions.

Overdoses, mental breakdowns and suicide attempts were all common.

Then, when I was 26, my last “rock bottom” began.

As a direct result of my using, my three beautiful daughters were removed from my care. This then triggered some of my worst using.

To cut a long story short, this led to me entering a drug and rehab clinic in July 2011, pregnant with my fifth child – which I only found out about during my detox process.

For the first time in 20 years I stopped running.

It was tough.

The groups were confronting and for the first time in my life I was looking squarely at myself instead of blaming others for all of my problems.

The transition through recovery was difficult but on the other side of the recovery process came a greater freedom than I had ever known;  the freedom of choice, the freedom of owning my own life and gaining control of the direction in which I was headed.

Happiness was fast becoming a common state.

For the first time in my life I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I could live a life beyond my wildest dreams. But for this to happen I had to do the work.

I attended daily 12 step meetings, which I still attend regularly to this day.

I have done a lot of personal self-development via the steps and other means such as therapy etc.

My physical health has improved substantially and one of the greatest things to have changed for me is my peace of mind.

My children were all returned to my care. My youngest, who has always been with me, has never seen me affected by any substance whatsoever and if I keep on doing what works, she never will.

I was able to return to studies and I attended a bridging program at university.

I was a year 8 drop out but I changed my life around and made it to university.

After completing university I decided to gain qualifications that would enable me to help others who have been, or are, where I was at my worst.

I am now in the process of completing a dual Certificate IV in Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs and I work for the very cause that saved my life.

I do this because I believe that if recovery can work for me, then it can work for any one who is ready to do whatever it takes.

I’ve managed to stay clean since my first day of treatment. It is a hard earned miracle.

Related articles

I was an addict. Now I help others.
I’m a mother, wife and daughter of addicts
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction – Joy’s Story
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction – Harriet’s Story
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