September 2020 - Hader Clinic Queensland

My Name is Charli and I’m an Addict

For the first time in memory, Charli is looking forward to the future after completing our residential addiction treatment program for her addiction issues.

My name is Charli and I’m an addict. My addictive poison was gambling. Although it’s not a tangible substance like drugs or alcohol, the effects of addiction and addictive behaviours are exactly the same.

During my addiction, I got myself to rock bottom and to a point where I simply could not stop myself. I lied, cheated and stole and did all of the typical things addicts do to keep their habit alive.

I have completed the ninety day residential rehabilitation program at Hader Clinic Queensland and am two months into my intensive outpatient program here.

While I’ve had a few challenges, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in the outpatients’ program and the structure it provides.

However, I probably should start at the beginning.

You could say that my family life pre disposed me to addiction. My Dad was addicted to alcohol and gambling which I’m sure had something to do with my parents’ separation. Both of my parents remarried and on my Dad’s side, my five step siblings were all addicts – to drugs, alcohol, you name it. I knew nothing else but addiction growing up.

My Mum, luckily, was not an addict. However, it wasn’t roses on this side of the family either. She remarried and I was sexually abused by my then step father for 12 months. I was traumatised and broken by this experience. At fifteen, I had to go to court and the end result was that he was jailed for his actions.

However, the damage had been done. I had little self esteem or confidence in myself. My experience left me feeling empty and worthless.

I turned to alcohol and drugs and tried “all the things”. However, there was a little whisper of a voice inside me that told me that drugs would not solve my problems, so I stopped.

Instead I met my partner, Trevor, who I would end up marrying. I leant on him and relied on him for everything. We didn’t talk about my sexual assault. At the time it was a relief not to have to think about it. We were together for 11 years and split up when I was in residential rehab for addiction treatment.

When I was eighteen, Dad took me to the pub where we drank and gambled. You could say that I got a taste for gambling almost straight away. Soon I was hooked and all of the lying, secretive and evasive behaviour that is part of addiction started creeping in.

I was a maestro at hiding my feelings, hiding money and not letting anyone into my inner world. In fact nobody knew about my gambling problem until three days before I went to rehab, I was THAT good at hiding it.

Like all addictions though, gambling started controlling me, rather than the other way around. I was totally out of control and completely powerless to stop myself. Underneath it all, I felt broken, worthless and undeserving of good things.

My husband never suspected a thing, even though I was hiding money and draining our joint account. My lies were convincing enough for him to believe that the bank had made a mistake, and had stuffed up somewhere. I also shifted money from account to account, covering my tracks as best I could.

My addiction came into the open when Trevor became concerned about the irregular transactions and the river of money that was going out of our account. It soon became apparent that he would need to get answers. It was a day, where literally everything blew up.

Trevor was naturally confused and angry and asked me to leave our home. This was the beginning of the end of our marriage as he did not understand addiction, nor did he want to understand it. Neither did he understand that I was suffering from mental health issues related to my assault and that my self worth was in tatters.

Thankfully I was able to move in with my older sister and had Mum to support me as well. They did not know what to do with me. They decided that I needed professional help and got me into The Hader Clinic Queensland. Over the years we had sent Dad to various public rehabs but he would leave after a few days and we’d be back to square one.

We decided we wanted to do a proper program and make a commitment to being in rehabilitation for an extended period of time. ‘Do it once well and get well one. This is a lifetime problem we deal with one day at a time’.

In regards to going to residential rehab, I knew I needed help and wanted to accept it too. However, I initially didn’t believe I needed to stay in there for more than thirty days, writing to my Mum, saying “what the hell am I doing in a drug and alcohol rehab when I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol?”

However, it soon became very obvious to me that I wasn’t any different from anyone else that was in rehab. The behaviours surrounding our addictions were all the same. After thirty days, I was scared at the prospect of going home. I’d just scratched the surface of what was really eating me and I wasn’t ready.

Staying in rehab felt more normal. I enjoyed rehab, I enjoyed spending time on myself and liked being able to share my feelings. It was a relief to feel safe in an environment where I wasn’t being judged.

During the last thirty days of rehab my marriage ended. I knew that I would need extra support as this event unfolded, therefore I needed no convincing to stay for ninety days. Even though the break up was hard, rehab taught me that I had been in an unhealthy relationship for eleven years.

I had been emotionally abused – I had no access to my own money, I had to hide everything. I couldn’t eat, dress or see my friends without his permission. We weren’t equals in the relationship, and the way I was treated only furthered feelings of worthlessness, and just feeling shit about myself.

I had no voice. I may not have bruises, but I have since learned that this is the most common form of domestic violence.

Since I completed rehab, I have lost some relationships within my family. I had to learn to set some boundaries.

Dad called me up, a few times, drunk out of his mind. I no longer take these calls.

I am choosing to put my recovery front and centre.

However, I’ve strengthened family relationships with those who matter most, my mum and my sister, who have supported me from day one, since finding out about my addiction. I don’t have an option to put my program down, that’s not me.

My Mum has been great. She has been taking on the recovery journey with me and joined Gamblers Anonymous. We are doing the ’12 Steps’ together and I know that I’m getting the right support from the right members of my family – I’m grateful for their support, it has made such a difference.

I am feeling better about myself. I AM worthwhile and I deserve good in my life. Rehabilitation has really made me see that.

In the intensive outpatient program, I attend the Hader Clinic Queensland head office for check in five days a week.

As I mentioned previously, I am grateful for the structure that the program has given to my life. I am slowly stepping into more of my own routines, so that when I finish the outpatient program I have created structure and accountability in my own life to move on with.

During my time so far in the outpatient program it has been great to actively encourage others to come along with me to a Gambling Anonymous Meeting.

Some have come along to give me support, only to find themselves having a lightbulb moment about the impact Gambling has had in their life and understanding it is also a contributing factor in their addiction.

I am planning on remaining as an outpatient until the end of the year. I am not wanting to take chances or cut corners with my recovery.

I’d rather take things a bit slower than rush back into life and not be quite ready to deal with the various challenges that will come up in life.

For the first time in memory, I’m looking forward to the future.

I was lucky enough to be able to take leave without pay from my employer and I’m planning on going to university to finish the degree I started many years ago.Life is good and I have the Hader Clinic Queensland to thank for getting me onto the right path.

A Letter from Racquel

This is a letter from Racquel, who undertook our residential addiction treatment program for her addiction to alcohol. She has kindly allowed us to share it.

To my dear (Hader) family, (staff and clients that I know),

I am typing this letter as, sadly, not many people can read my handwriting.

I first want to say an overwhelming thank you to the staff for your guidance, shared experiences and knowledge, as a group and individually. My time at Hader Clinic Queensland was well overdue, but I expect came just at the right time!

As you know through my sharing time and life story, my life was on a crash and burn spiral where I felt as if there would be no tomorrow – as I felt as though there was nothing in the future to look forward to.

This all started to change the day after I arrived at the rehab when I read the book “What is an addict?”.  I realised (stuff a duck),  I did have a problem!

Even on the day I arrived, I was still not convinced that my situation was critical, but I did know I had to do something soon, otherwise I would lose my daughter’s respect, my health, my sense of self-worth (which was dwindling fast) and would become so critical of my husband as he was always interstate with work.

I felt dislike creeping in, which was a horrid feeling.

Not only did being at Hader Clinic Queensland give me a sense of fellowship, but I felt as if I belonged and that I wasn’t alone. That may sound a bit sad to some, but it was where I was supposed to be, the only place I should have been at that time.

I learned things that I had unlearned. I gained a respect for those around me through their experiences, their suffering, their growth and recognition of their personal dilemma which in some cases almost came as a lightning bolt.

To this day I have not had a drink (495 days) and I have no inkling to do so. I have made contact with my fellowship and speak to their rep, but I have not visited. Step by step, I am very aware they are near, and he has reached out and made himself available when and if I need him.

When I got home, I was surprised at all the work my husband had done around the farm, things that had to be done but due to my health, got left.

He had also stopped drinking, lost eight kgs (he has lost a further four up to now), started to eat properly, is no longer pre-diabetic due to abstinence of alcohol, and his attitude has also changed for the better: much more considerate as he now knows that I had a problem.

There are many things I have put into practise that I planned to do when I got home and they were specifically for me, to get MY life back.

  • I now have two cars in my name. I bought myself a car and we have bought a new ute for the farm and it is in my name.
  • It has taken a while but I’m seeing more of my daughter and she has taken control of her illness.
  • My physical fitness while at Hader Clinic Queensland improved immensely and I regained my confidence to go the extra mile to get fit. When I got back I was walking every day, until my last surgery, but I will soon be on track again.
  • I now speak up if I’m not happy with a situation.
  • I have steered away from friends who are negative or not just not good for me.
  • I have put my name down for volunteer work at the age care facility my parents went to with the intention of helping the residents write their own life story, not only for them but for their family.
  • The Covid-19 situation is lingering but because of where we live in Victoria, our restrictions are at level three and we have a lot more freedom which I guess helps a lot with any mental health issues.
  • I have finally got around to updating my DVA and medical appointments, which were well overdue.
  • And I have started reading again which has become one of my greatest joys.

So, this note is to say thank you with all my heart and I hope you all continue to do such amazing work for people like me.

THANK YOU!

With great respect,
Racquel

Peter’s Ice Addiction Recovery

Nearly three years ago Peter, a former army officer and ice addict, completed our residential addiction treatment program. He now shares his progress.

I am a former army officer who served three tours of Afghanistan, Rwanda and Somalia at the time of the Kibeho massacre.

Two years have passed since I shared my addiction recovery story and I wanted to give an update and further insight into my recovery journey.

Anyone can change. I believe the trick is that we must want to change.

Veterans 360 found me at a time when my life was at rock bottom. I had left my wife and kids two years’ earlier and for most of that time I had no fixed address.

I was existing, couch surfing where I could with anyone that would let me.

Finally, I became desperate enough to accept an offer of a bed from my brother. Previously, I had felt too embarrassed to accept.

Following my time in residential rehab spending a further six months in the Hader Clinic Queensland Transition Housing Program also helped me greatly. I believe the extra time helped me in my recovery.

By the time I left rehab, I was feeling strong.

My thinking around addiction changed.  The way I thought about myself changed.  After not being present for the longest time I was beginning to look forward to the future.

I mentioned previously that my wife and I rekindled our marriage after she came to visit me in the transition house.

After a few visits, she asked me if I’d like to come home.

I would be lying if I said that this was an easy transition.

A lot of things change over two years.

I was very conscious about coming home and trying not to ‘change everything’ to suit me. Plus, unbeknownst to me, my daughter’s boyfriend had also moved into our home.

I didn’t get on well with him and at all and we clashed.

There were a few awful nights where I thought I might use again, but luckily with the support of NA here in Darwin, they were able to talk me off the ledge.

Initially, I felt like I had a lot to prove but slowly, with time, my family relationships have improved and become stronger.”

Another challenge I faced was switching careers after being medically discharged from the military. It was a challenge forging a new career path while maintaining my commitment to recovery.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was really hard as a lot of our identity is tied up in our careers.

After all, I had spent most of my adult life in the military and knew nothing else.

I am luckier than most in that I receive an army pension, so I was able to take my time in deciding what I wanted to do.

Initially, I had a photography business that I started when I was medically discharged from the army, which was doing alright, however I was still using.

A fresh start was in order.

Now, I’m working with Mission Australia as a therapeutic support worker.

At first, I was hesitant about this role as I didn’t think I was strong enough. However, as I’ve recovered, I have gained the urge to help others, to “give back”, if you like.

I also enrolled into a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs through Charles Darwin University to support my role. I feel rewarded by the job, it is giving back and I believe that I am helping.

Life these days is about juggling work, study, CrossFit, golf and time with my family. Keeping fit is important to me. I’ve even participated in some CrossFit Masters competitions.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days where my head will take me to the place of using.

Ups and downs are part of life.

They don’t disappear because you’re clean, you just have to manage life in a different (and better!) way than using drugs.

Recovery and abstinence are possible. As time goes by you get stronger and stronger.

It’s important to understand your triggers and understand that you cannot do it alone.

It’s important to ask for help, especially if you’re a man because often we try and tough it out alone. Don’t.

This is where rehab and organisations like Narcotics Anonymous help immensely.  When something goes wrong, as I mentioned, my head can still take me there and I think that I could use.

This is why it’s important to remember where you’ve come from.

If I use, I will not be able to control it and I know exactly where I will end up.

You need to have a holistic approach to recovery. My time in the army meant that fitness had to be a part of my recovery and it has helped me greatly.

Remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol means everything to me.

I still have some issues from my time in the army that I’m dealing with through the help of the DVA and counselling.  Although I have some bad days with these issues, they’d be considerably worse if I was still using.

Rehab and recovery have been hard work but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m glad I have the opportunity in my role to help others who are suffering too.

I’m grateful for every day and look forward to the future.

Ex-Soldier Ice Addict’s Rise from Disgrace

Ben, an ex-soldier and ice addict made headlines for his fall from grace. Now, Ben shares his story of recovery following treatment for ice addiction.

My name’s Ben, I’m 25 years old and my poison before I came to rehab was meth.

I had an excellent childhood. I grew up on a cotton farm out past Goondiwindi. I worked with my dad and played a ton of sport, like rugby league and cricket. When I finished Year 12, I decided to join the army. I was eighteen, nineteen.

When I joined the army, we went overseas and during that time, we had a training incident where a few people got injured. Upon return we had a get together, where some of the older members of the regiment introduced me to meth.

It was the first time I had tried a drug. It started slowly with occasional weekend use, especially if I wasn’t away working.

In terms of starting meth, I knew drug taking was a no no, but thought a small amount couldn’t harm me.

Besides, the people who gave it to me were higher in rank within my unit and I think being new to the army and the heavy drinking culture, I wanted to fit in another way.

I remember my mum warning me about drugs as a kid, but because all of these people seemed to be OK, I thought it would be fine. Little did I know that many of them were suffering from trauma and PTSD.

I used on weekends for four years, and my drug taking really didn’t escalate until near the end of my army career.

I was kicked out of the army for returning a positive drug test and was suspended without pay. I felt like I’d been booted to the kerb by the Australian Defence Force and it seemed the DVA wanted little to do with me.

That propelled me to start using heavily and hard – I was using every day, pretty much from the day I was discharged. To say the wheels had fallen off my life was an understatement.

My experience with the army had left me feeling rejected and broken. I was directionless. I had no purpose.

I isolated myself from others and used. That was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t face life at the time sober.

After my army discharge, I lived in Brisbane with my partner. Our relationship broke down pretty quickly.

I stayed in Brisbane, sleeping in my car or moving from hotel to hotel when I could afford it and getting into all sorts of legal trouble as a result of my using.

I went home for a period of time, hoping that would get me clean, then spent time bouncing between Toowoomba and Warwick until I had to spend two months in Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre (jail).

In jail, the DVA counsellor provided me with information about The Hader Clinic Queensland residential addiction treatment program. Between the counsellor and my mum, they’d been trying to get me interested in the idea of going to rehab for about twelve months.

On my second day in jail, I rang Hayden at the clinic and organised to go to rehab.

I knew I didn’t want to live this life.

Incidentally, I didn’t get myself into legal hot water trying to fund my addiction. Rather, it came about as attempt to alleviate the depression I was suffering as a result of my army discharge.

I attempted suicide twice then had decided that owning a pet might help me.

Anyway, I was plastered all over the news for organising someone to steal a puppy for me.

The police searched the Brisbane suburbs for it, found me with the puppy and arrested me. I didn’t dob the bloke in that had done the actual stealing.

That was my first brush with the law – I was charged as being an accessory to a break and enter.

Being in the news and seeing headlines like “Ex-soldier ice addict’s fall from grace,” was traumatising. Being shamed in the news broke me even further.

In the meantime, my partner and I were continuously fighting. Not physically, but emotionally.

I had been charged with possession, had a DVO taken out against me and DUI charges.

My addiction was getting away from me.

My partner was also using ice and our relationship became toxic and co-dependent. Relationships with drugs never work – there’s always some form of abuse and in my case it was emotional.

Experiencing jail is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I got bashed in there on my first day. I saw people sharing needles, shooting up in stairwells. I knew that if I got out and started using again, then I’d end up like the people I was seeing.

Even if I wasn’t doing crime, I was putting myself into precarious situations on the street wandering around with undiagnosed PTSD. I realised that that I couldn’t look after other people, let alone look after myself.

I had a few days between jail and rehab. I didn’t use in jail, but did drink some alcohol on the evening I was released – so I started my clean time from there.

When I went to rehab, I was nervous, because I didn’t really know what to expect.

It was hard saying goodbye to my family and partner, but I was comfortable with my decision.

The moment I walked down those stairs and had my first interview, I had people coming up and introducing themselves and shaking my hand and finally I had found the connection with others that I hadn’t experienced since I was in the military.

After five days there, I could honestly say that I felt happy and connected there. I was grateful to be here.

I got involved in everything that rehab had to offer.

Compared with where I’d just been, it was a spiritual holiday.

I felt like I’d spent so long trying to get people, like my parents, to understand my situation, but I could never quite articulate what I wanted to say.

With Jay and Mark and the other staff at the rehab, they knew exactly what I what I was going through. It was a relief to know that I was in exactly the right place.

Now I’m living back in Goondiwindi with my parents.

I like living here but it’s a bit remote, as there aren’t really any meetings to attend face to face. I’ve been using the HaderCare Online Aftercare App instead. I can check in with the clinic every day.

Plus, if for some reason I don’t check in as agreed, or my check ins are going negative, I get a phone call from Olivia, the staff psychologist to check that I’m OK and ask what’s going on.

They can tell if you’re heading towards a relapse or you’re struggling and they have plans in place to manage this. I like the app because as well as knowing that the staff at Hader Clinic Queensland are looking out for me, it also provides me with accountability.

If I was left to my own devices, I don’t think rehab would have been as effective.

I have tasks to complete and counselling each week.

As you complete each week clean, you receive new materials to work on, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) lessons and preventative measures.

You are continually progressing through lessons.

The staff can see if you have completed the coursework too and give you feedback. It helps with building self esteem, has taught me about co-dependency and relationships, it’s been really good.

I’m still looking for a sponsor though and doing Zoom International meetings.

Olivia has set up a once a week meeting with members of the Transition House, which has been fantastic. It keeps me connected to the people I went to rehab with.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about this journey? I thought that I wanted to be isolated, but in actual fact, what I was really craving was connection to people.

And also a bit of spirituality. I was never a spiritual person. I remember speaking to Jay about it when I was in jail and I didn’t understand what a spiritually based program was. I didn’t realise, but I was spiritually bankrupt back then.

Now I apply the spiritual principles I’ve learned in rehab each day and call myself out on it. I never thought that would be something I would ever do.

I would encourage everyone to go to rehab, even if you’ve been clean for a few months and are “white knuckling” it. That’s what I’m trying to convince my partner to do.

She’s three months’ clean but we’re not connecting on the same level.

I would encourage people to stick it out, it will change your life for the better.

She’s done it cold turkey without having the benefit of actually working a recovery program.

I consider there to be a big difference between recovery where you’re working a program than if you’re not.

I feel like I’ve experienced more personal and spiritual growth as a result.

I know people can get clean on their own but I don’t think they can get rid of the underlying toxicity in their system that drove them to use drugs in the first place. If you don’t have that growth in place, it’s a wobbly ride.

You’ve been smashed around by addiction, but you’re only one small issue away from a relapse.

That’s where rehab has been a blessing.

I have acquired so many tools to keep me clean and help me deal with problems as they arise.

I still have my bad days. I am working hard on my recovery despite not having access to meetings.

I have developed a good routine. I get up early, go for a walk, have breakfast and study my PT course for two hours daily. I read my books, I do my check in and I do something that supports personal development every day.

That’s been the difference between me and my partner. She doesn’t have that and we’ve grown apart. It would be a good time for her to do rehab too.

You don’t have to be using to still be an addict.

Every single day since I’ve been to rehab has been better for me.

Now I’m doing my personal training certification through the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers.

I’ve got connection with my family back. My family trusts me. I’ve got DVA support. My life is now moving forward at a rapid rate – something I didn’t think was possible when I was in the grip of addiction.

With the Hader Clinic Queensland, I feel like I’m part of a family. That’s what I love about it.

I have been travelling back to the residential rehab once a month to “give back” and share my experiences with others, particularly with the AfterCare App.

It helps me just as much as it may help someone in the rehab. It gives me a bit of a recharge and keeps motivating me to pursue recovery.

I am grateful for my recovery every day. Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me get here.

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