October 2019 - Hader Clinic Queensland

I’m Seven Months Clean of Ice

After previously undergoing treatment for his ice addiction, James came to the Hader Clinic QLD following a relapse. This is his honest insight into his recovery with us.

Hi, I’m James. I’m 39. I’ve been clean for seven months, but this isn’t my first rodeo with rehab – it’s actually my second time. I did rehab three years ago.

I was in jail and got sent to rehab as part of my bail conditions. Essentially, the first time was to get out of going to jail.

Don’t get me wrong. I did learn things – I learned that I was scared, lonely and angry – but I’m obviously a slow learner because I really didn’t understand my place in it all.

That time, I stayed six months clean then I relapsed. Then I did another six months clean.

I moved to the Sunshine Coast because that’s where we formed our Fellowship.

I was going all right but underneath there were a lot of dramas within my family that I was struggling to deal with.

The relationship I was having with my family was a trigger that opened the floodgates for my last relapse.

You see, I felt generally unsupported by my family in my efforts to turn things around. I have two brothers that are ten years younger than me and a sister who passed away eight years ago from cancer.

Unfortunately, I don’t get on well with my younger brothers. It all comes down to jealousy and my role in the family business.

Back then, I’d just do my own thing. I was a functioning addict, I worked in my own business and for the family’s business.

I got married, and had a daughter, who’s now seven.

When my marriage crumbled, I embarked on a bad journey which ultimately led me to being a criminal.

I went from a background of strict family life to finding drugs and liking them too much as a means of helping me cope with life’s ups and downs.

My drug of addiction was ice.

I first picked up at the age of 22. I was working in my family’s trucking business and using it to stay awake – all the while maintaining a house and a family.

My ex-wife had an affair, my sister died and my brothers didn’t want to know me, so as a means to cope, I turned to drugs and fell in with the wrong crowd of people.

I was very naive about the criminal lifestyle.

Even though I relapsed, I did learn things from my first rehab experience and understood the value of staying connected.

When I relapsed again I was living up the coast, I was feeling lonely and I was hanging out with people who I inherently knew weren’t good for me.

Plus, there was this girl I really shouldn’t have been seeing – and yes, I should have seen it coming but my world turned to shit and bang, I started using again.

My parents kept telling me that I needed to go back to rehab.

I kept telling them, “why would I want to do that? I’ve done it all before”.

But I agreed, and luckily the Hader Clinic Queensland’s retreat was close by.

This time around when I went into rehab, I was ready to accept that I did need to do it again.

I did ninety days in rehab and ninety days in the transition house.

There was more acceptance around going to rehab this time, which was driven by a lack of employment and a three year loss of my driver’s license.

I was living at home with my parents, sad, depressed and at a loose end – so rehab was the best option.

I needed to learn to sit down, shut up and listen in rehab this time around – and take on board the feedback and advice given to me by the staff.

I don’t believe in rock bottom. In the addiction game you can always sink lower. Rock bottom is when you’re dead.

This time around, I’ve learned and understood so much more. It’s a whole lot better for me than being there because of the issues I had with the courts.

This time, I went back because I realized that I was fucked.

The transition house has been great. It’s given me a chance to do the program and integrate back into the real world a bit.

A typical day in the transition house involves a reading, breakfast and a shower. Then it’s whatever the day brings around check ins, meetings and doctors’ appointments.

I’m also going to the gym.

I’m not quite ready to go back to work as that’s another of my biggest triggers.

My parents have bought a farm so I’ll be working on that eventually. I think it’s good for me to get into the country and away from any drug scene. I know I can’t go back to driving trucks.

I have to admit I’ve had a lot of issues with the dynamics in my family.

My mother has been unsupportive and judgmental in the past.

My father, well, last year he’s come around but they were really clueless about my addictive behaviours and how to manage them.

I felt like they wouldn’t listen to me. I got to the point where I thought that their lack of support would have driven me back to jail.

Today, I still blame them for some emotional blackmail.

My parents have come along for the rehab journey which has helped because they’re getting to understand their role in my addiction.

They’ve come to our family nights, they’re attending Al-Anon and I feel like they’re actually listening.

I can see a change in them and it’s helping me.

Their perspective on addiction has changed. 

Last time it felt like they paid me to go away.  “Here’s some money. Run along. Stay away from your brothers.”

I believe it was a way for them to deal with the conflict between us siblings – they paid me to stay away from them and from work.

Deep down I knew I didn’t want money. I wanted my family.

I always said to them that money didn’t buy love.

They thought that by keeping me at arms’ length that I would be doing really well, but the reality was that their money enabled my addictive behaviours.

The relationship with my brother still remains pretty frosty though.

Through rehab I have been able to see that I’ve indulged in behaviours that have needled my parents, such as trying to bring up the relationship I have with my brother – which eventually would have seen me getting worked up in the process.

This time around in rehab, I’m starting to see these things I do. I’m learning to accept the friction between my brother and me.

In short, I’m looking forward to rebuilding my life on the farm and staying connected with a therapeutic community. 

The transition house has made the biggest difference as it’s allowed me to assimilate back into the real world and the family nights have helped my parents understand addiction and how the family plays its part. 

Thanks to everyone at The Hader Clinic Queensland. I’m grateful for the opportunity they gave me.

I’m 12 Months Clean!

Mick, an army veteran, and a recovering alcoholic last shared his addiction treatment story six months ago. Now a year clean he’s sharing another insight into his ongoing recovery journey.

It feels like a lifetime ago when I last shared my story about my time in rehab and at the time being six months clean.

It is now a year since I completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s ninety day drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and since then, I’ve been in the outpatient program or what I’d call “maintenance”.

I’ve stayed this long in the outpatient program to keep myself accountable and follow through with what I’d call “the basics” and most importantly, keep myself connected, because connection is the opposite of addiction.

I’m always trying to keep that connection going because the nature of addiction is isolating.

In the last seven days, I’ve secured a job and I will be moving out of the transitional housing.

Life is great, I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve achieved so much in such a short time.

One year of being clean has been worthy of celebration – I even had three cakes that week!

Not that everything has been smooth sailing of course.

I’ve had a few wobbles along the way, but I’m learning that’s part of the recovery process.

There was a stage there where I was feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere in the program, I couldn’t see the final outcome and as a result, I really started to sweat the small things.

I think in general, that’s what I do when I’m a bit stressed – let the small stuff get to me.

How did I turn it around?

I started reading a lot of books that were recommended to me by the staff at the clinic. I did this to help me understand why I was feeling this way. That really helped pull me through. 

The staff here were a great help in helping me overcome these thoughts.

I decided to do some training (Certificate III in Cleaning Operations) to enable me to get a job.

I’m also saving to be able to do some community counselling courses because I want to help people.

I’ve always wanted to help others. I don’t know why.

I remember as a kid being told that I’d end up as a preacher or within that line of work. I’m always that person helping an old lady across the road or carrying her bags to the car.

It makes me feel good to help others.

Years ago, I read that helping others releases endorphins in the brain. They’re right, I do get a rush out of it.

On reflection, I used to help a lot of people out to make me forget about myself. I think that’s where I came unstuck a long time ago.

I helped so many people, I neglected to get the help that I so desperately needed. I lost my sense of self in giving too much.

These days I’m more balanced. I don’t seek gratification or praise for helping others now. I just do it because I can.

Another big “take home” message I’ve learned is that there’s always help available if you’re willing to ask for it.

Years ago, I wouldn’t have reached out, because I didn’t think I deserved those things. Recovery has taught me that I actually DO deserve these things and then some!

Whether those things are physical, financial, mental or spiritual I know that I am worthy and that I can get around my pride and ask for help.

I’m still volunteering with the Salvos.

I just don’t do as much as I did before – because I realised that I had to put my recovery front and centre – some days I miss volunteering due to this – however I don’t worry as I’m there to help for the long term.

Sometimes it’s once a week or a couple of times a month – or even three days a week. I’m learning that I can’t save everyone too.

I’ll always be volunteering with the Salvos. It helps me identify feelings within myself of what I was like at the height of my addiction.

I was selfish, and didn’t care about anyone else’s journey. Actually, I was numb more than anything else.

Now I can go down to Streetlevel and I can see the growth in me.

I know it sounds bad, but I can also laugh at where they’re at – I can find the humour in it because I was there myself. It’s my way of separating myself from active addiction and not getting drawn into the drama of it.

With my new job, I’m starting with a small allocation of hours. It’s a trial period, but I’m not too worried about that as I know my confidence and ability will get me more work.

It’s not going to impose too much on my recovery – as it’s night time work. I feel like I’m ready to work now.

I had reservations about going back into the workforce and doing what I was doing before.

It wasn’t a lot of day time work and the culture of the job is that everyone has a beer or uses drugs after they knock off. I voiced my hesitation, prayed about it.

In the end I handed the problem over to my Higher Power and asked Him to help me find my way, to give me the right direction – and the next thing I know, I find this job where my commitment to recovery isn’t affected.

That’s the thing, our Higher Power opens and closes doors all the time for us – but most of the time we’re not noticing what’s going on.

We’re too busy sweating the small things. If we can just sit back, relax, we can see those doorways being opened to us.

It’s nice to be taking steps towards independence again.

I’m so grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for their help.

If it hadn’t been for my time in the Defence force, I would not have been able to access this opportunity to get clean as the Hader Clinic Queensland is a Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) Approved Provider of addiction treatment services.

I treat my recovery as a gift and something to be cherished.

I want to live each day honouring that gift, that chance that I’ve been given.

Breaking Stigmas of Mental Health and Addiction

What a loser, a no hoper, a junkie, a bludger. They’re a stain on society. They brought it upon themselves, why should I have sympathy for them?

Unfortunately when it comes to depicting the nature of an addict, it’s common to hear phrases such as the ones above bandied around to describe them. 

Such phrases are cruel and divisive and rarely prompt someone suffering with the disease of addiction to seek treatment. 

Most people don’t know that substance use and dependency disorders are officially classified as mental health disorders (1).

In recent years, initiatives such as World Mental Health Day have sought to raise awareness around mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with suffering from mental illness. 

Stigma around mental illness delays or prevents people from wanting to seek help.

While great strides have been made around some forms of mental illness, the disease of addiction appears especially impacted by misconception and misrepresentation – negative references such as the ones above as well as blaming and shaming do little to prompt an addict to seek help they need.

Here are a few facts about addiction and mental health and how you can help someone who is the grip of substance use disorder.

  • It’s not clear cut what comes first – substance use disorder or other underlying mental health issues. What’s important is seeking out expert addiction treatment that addresses all aspects of mental health.
  • Labelling addicts with cruel, divisive labels does nothing to help them seek treatment. Neither does blaming them for “bringing it upon themselves”. Instead acknowledge that they suffering from a mental health disorder and that help is available.
  • Support an addict with honest language that supports the person, yet acknowledges the dysfunctional aspect of addictive “talk” and behaviour. Use language that separates the person from their addiction. Avoid enabling behaviours. Tell them that you love them but will not support them in addictive addiction and the behaviours that accompany it.  
  • Let an addict know that help is available, there is always hope and recovery is possible, provided they are prepared to put in some hard work. Encourage them to make that hard work count by seeking expert help to assist in the recovery process.

Focus on what recovery entails and the benefits of freedom from addiction – strength, resilience, courage, bravery, perseverance, colour, life, service and connection are but a few!

Sources

(1) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Volume 5” (DSM-V)

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