November 2020 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Max’s Addiction – His Mother’s Story

Juliette is a drug and alcohol nurse. She never saw her son’s addiction coming, but when Max turned up on her doorstop begging for help, it was the catalyst to start his recovery from addiction.

My name is Juliette, and I work in a hospital as a drug and alcohol nurse.

However, first and foremost, I am a mother.

I’m a mother to a drug addict, and my reaction to this was as a mother first, rather than as a health professional.

My son, Max, has been battling addiction for the better part of thirteen years.

I didn’t see it coming, but once I knew, I recognised where he was heading.

Max is now thirty, and his journey started at the age of seventeen, after he left high school.

Like many young men, he started drinking – and this was to lead him down the path to harder drugs and an addiction to gambling. At the time of his admission, he was gambling, using alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.

All the time Max was abusing drugs and alcohol, he maintained a job in the hospitality industry. What made things worse is that all of his mates were doing the same thing. In hospitality, alcohol is available open slather. He’d be serving drinks and consuming them simultaneously.

Can I say that Max hid his addiction well? He moved out of home early on, but every time I’d see him, he’d look… tired . I never imagined for one minute that he’d be seriously hungover. He had always been a talented actor, and he executed the role of denial perfectly.

I don’t know how I would have sent Max into rehab if Covid-19 hadn’t hit. I had always found confronting him to be a slippery affair. I used to wonder how I could force him to go to rehab when he’d always duck and weave if I ever broached the subject. He lived his life in such a way that ensured that he was never hanging around with his family much.

Instead, he was hanging out with mates who were only too happy to enable his addiction.

Back to Covid – I’m grateful that it happened because it meant the hospitality industry had to shut down. Max lost his job. It sounds awful, but what a blessing it was for us.

As the Covid-19 crisis escalated, and without a job or money, Max began his descent towards rock bottom.

One evening he literally landed on our doorstep, begging us for help.

Immediately I went into “alcohol and drug nurse mode”.

I told him, “tonight I am accepting you back under my roof as my son, however, tomorrow, I am going to be your facilitator in your journey of rehabilitation and recovery.”

He was in a weakened mental state and to my surprise, I didn’t have to force him to got to rehab. He was ready and willing.

That’s the difference. You have to be at a stage of your addiction where you want to get better. We were lucky in that regard. Covid-19 had forced Max’s hand.

He completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s 90 day program. There were times when I thought that he wasn’t going to last the distance but he did. It was a wonderful relief to know that he was safe and sound at the rehab, and not out and about using.

Max has been out from the program for four weeks. He is living at home with us, and is doing well.

He is hoping to go to university and study – and is currently looking at his options. Although he is wildly creative, the film and TV courses he’s done probably won’t get him a job. That’s what I call a “fantasyland” course!

We are proud that Max has remained sober. To support him, we stopped drinking ourselves. We would only drink once a week, on a Friday evening, but decided to quit.

I have absolutely no insight into how Max fell prey to the disease of addiction from a family point of view. Max grew up in a happy, loving, shall we say, boringly normal family. He was one of those kids who was universally loved in his school classes growing up and was always big on acting/drama.

We really started worrying about Max when he was nineteen. He was working for an insurance company, and wasn’t happy. He was spending every lunch hour at the TAB or playing the pokies.

The psychiatrist at Hader Clinic Queensland reckons that Max wasn’t happy at that time and that gambling game him that hit of dopamine that he was constantly craving. (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is associated with generation of feelings of pleasure within our brain). Although I did not realise Max was unhappy, this all makes sense to me.

We discovered that what was pushing Max further into his addiction was a sense of never feeling quite good enough, despite being adept at being an outgoing “showman”.

We participated in the Hader Clinic Queensland family nights. I cannot thank them enough for this part of the program. Through participation in these events, we could clearly see where we had been going wrong. My husband was a great enabler, always giving him money, and not letting him owe anyone anything.

Meanwhile, I was torn between being a mother and an alcohol and drug nurse. The mother in me won out of course.

If I had any advice to give to another parent struggling with the same issue? Goodness me, I have no advice… I seriously don’t know… wait….

YES, I DO!

Seek professional help. If you believe there is a problem, pick up the phone and do not hesitate to call The Hader Clinic Queensland.

It takes a village to raise a child and it also takes a village to help heal an addict!

The Hader Clinic Queensland were fantastic in this regard – every step of the way had a staff member willing and able to support us, which has helped us as much as it’s helped Max.

Thank you, Hader Clinic Queensland.

From Carnage to Recovery

Drugs initially gave Daniel peace, but his addiction soon led him down a road of carnage. Following residential addiction treatment he reflects on his ongoing recovery.

Many people believe that music and drugs go hand in hand. I’m pretty sure someone has told me along the way that Mozart was addicted to heroin. That doesn’t surprise me as both drugs and music have the power to change the way you feel, only one (music) is good for you. And the other just leads you down a road of carnage.

I’m a musician who has been producing rap music since 2011. The whole time I created music, I used.

I’m still newly recovering – as of today I’m fifty seven days’ clean. As there are many associations with drugs in doing my music, I haven’t gone back there yet. I don’t want to be triggered into a situation where I may relapse. Recovery is the most important part of my life right now.

My using started when I was eleven or twelve. I’m now thirty six. I had a great upbringing, two parents who loved both my brother and myself. My Mum worked for the XXXX brewery and I started my using lifestyle by pinching beers from the fridge at home. At thirteen I started smoking weed and would spend most weekends with my mates partying hard, getting drunk, getting stoned, or both.

Despite the drug use, I managed to graduate year twelve.

After school, the dabbling in drugs continued – as well as pot and alcohol, there were eccies (ecstasy) and speed added into the mix. At nineteen I smoked meth. I was doing a carpentry apprenticeship. I did the whole thing high on drugs.

Drugs initially gave me peace, silencing the committee in my head that saw me continually comparing myself with my brother. We had the same parents, same upbringing, yet my brother was so different from me – he ended up becoming an accountant. He can have one drink and put the cap on the bottle, whereas I’ll continue until I’m paralytic.

So… I did meth from 19 to 36 and had a son in the meantime, at 23. Things really started ramping up when I was around 28, in 2012. I was doing heaps of music and spending most of the time high.

I dropped the ball at work.

I did not pay rent.

I lost my home.

I slept on mates’ couches.

It was awful.

I decided to give up drugs cold turkey.

It didn’t work.

I moved in with a mate who was selling gear. Weirdly, at the time, I felt peace being there, even though the place was hectic with people coming and going at all hours.

I remember sitting on the couch with three pregnant girls, smoking pot.

This was all very normal to me.

I recorded my first demo mixtape in that house.

Eventually I moved out.

Lived on a couch.

Met a friend who said I could stay at her place for three weeks.

I stayed for three years.

Life was not manageable, so I went to rehab in 2015. It wasn’t a twelve-step program. I remember that a mate hung himself while I was in there. I thought, “this is it, time to be clean”.

After eight weeks of rehab, I got a job as a chippie and things seemed to be going well, until I caught a contractor smoking meth in a downstairs basement. He asked me if I wanted some.

Naturally, I relapsed.

I managed to hang on to my job and the union got me into rehab in Sydney where I learned about Narcotics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. Recovery was going well, and I felt connected to the NA community there. Plus, Sydney was a new town to me, so it created another barrier to using.

However, I had to come back to Brisbane, and without the right support around me, I relapsed again.

Thirteen months ago, I met my partner. We were both in active addiction. One of my wiser mates told me, “it’s going to get to the point where you choose each other, or you choose the drugs”.

I decided to withdraw my super on compassionate medical grounds and do rehab at The Hader Clinic Queensland. I did the thirty day program, and during that time, I surrendered to recovery. My initial impressions were that I could see where the value was, given I had paid privately. It was good to get away from the environment where I used and become involved with NA again. I have a sponsor, and I attend two meetings a day.

All of the staff had a big impact on me, especially Mark, Fran and JJ. In fact JJ and I have the same sponsor. It was great to be able to go to a meeting and see the staff there – not because they were taking us to a meeting, but rather, they were there for themselves and still focused on their recovery. It makes me realise that you don’t go to rehab and become “cured”, you’re always working on various aspects of your recovery.

I want to get back into making my music, but slowly, slowly. I want to do it in a way that doesn’t trigger wanting to use.

I’ve now been a chippie for the past fifteen years or so. I don’t want to go back to the drinking and drug culture that underlies construction either. However, I do want to give back to the area where I came from.

I have joined Mates in Construction and have put my name down to get involved in the Connector program – meaning you’re the port of call for someone in your industry that may be doing it tough. Then I’m going to do the week long “Assist” course.

It’s about me learning to do things a different way. I’m still pretty new to being clean. However, one thing I do know is that I want recovery more than anything else. And that I have support. I’m looking forward to visiting the Hader Clinic Queensland tomorrow for a check in.

If you’re serious about getting clean, get support. The Hader Clinic Queensland were brilliant and I’m looking forward to notching more time up in recovery.

There’s Always Hope If You Want Recovery

Jeff hit rock bottom before undertaking the residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program and transitional housing program. He’s now two years clean.

Hi there – my name’s Jeff (changed name) – I’m a bit over two years’ clean. I went to rehab in November 2018 and also completed the transition housing program at the Hader Clinic Queensland. Like many addicts, I was addicted to more than one substance – in my case it was methamphetamines and alcohol being the two “majors”.

In terms of my upbringing, I had a pretty normal childhood, my family stayed together for it – I had both parents, so nothing too abstract there. I started using pot and alcohol in early high school with my schoolmates. It was more of a party thing, and what the group did to fit in. It was just what we did every now and again on weekends. It never really became any problem for my until I turned eighteen. I could now legally purchase alcohol and I started doing this quite often.

When I used at that age, I always drugged or drank to the point of passing out, there was no middle ground. I guess that was the difference between myself and the people I was hanging out with. That continued all throughout my late teens and early 20s. I got into a relationship that fell apart after a couple of years. We bought a house together and during that time my drinking and drugging just took over like wildfire. My partner could not handle this, which is fair enough too, and decided to leave.

After those events, I just started to use heavily, all day and every day. It was both heavy alcohol and drug use. By that stage I had started using meth – once every couple of weeks. Then it turned into once a week, then Thursday to Sunday, then eventually every day. I was just 22. Life at that stage was pretty sad. The first thing I’d do when I woke up was to have a drink and use. I isolated in my house all day, I had little contact with others. I drove whatever friends I still had away, and started hanging out with other users and dealers.

My family were aware that I was drinking heavily, but it wasn’t until things started getting really bad, including losing half my body weight, that they realised that I was using more than just alcohol. Along with losing weight over six to eight months of heavy meth use, I also started getting into trouble with the law. I had stopped going to work long before that. I worked in real estate and one day I simply didn’t show up. I turned to crime to support my habit – I accrued some drug related and violence related charges in that time.

I guess when I was about 23 or so, I was given the choice by the court to either go to jail, or go to rehab. I chose to go to The Hader Clinic Queensland.

I’ve actually been there twice. The first time, I got kicked out after sixty days for using. At that stage, I didn’t want to get clean. I just didn’t want to go to jail.

I got opted out for thirty days and did not return to The Hader Clinic Queensland for a year. When I got out, I started using again – just as heavy as before, for an entire year. It was almost as if I was rebelling.

After doing another year of heavy using, every aspect of my life got worse. The isolation became more pronounced, plus my habit was expensive. At my worst, I was using $1500 worth of drugs per day. It was unhealthy and unsustainable – and yes, I started getting into trouble with the wrong types of people and the law.

I think I got to the stage where I had an epiphany one evening and thought, “I can’t do this anymore”.

The funny thing with the first stint at rehab was that I believed that I used more afterwards because deep down, I now knew that there was a better way. I just wasn’t ready. Sure, using was fun for those first few days after rehab, but then it quickly turned into that hideous addictive cycle. It was no fun, in fact it felt soul destroying.

That’s when I decided that I had enough. I contacted my mother, who travelled up to my place at Airlie Beach. She helped me pack up my house and got me off to rehab. I had been planning to stay with Mum to try and get clean, but she insisted that I go to rehab.

However, before I entered rehab again, I got picked up by the police. I had an outstanding warrant for my arrest, so I got locked up on the Sunshine Coast for a week or so and then sent to rehab. Second time around was a completely different experience. When I arrived, I had no clothes and no shoes. It literally was the rock bottom for me.

I wanted recovery. I wanted to be there – which made all the difference in my experience.

I also did the Transition Housing program. I wanted the opportunity to do everything I could to promote my sobriety, any extras. It was a good opportunity and time for me to work on myself.

And here I am, two years’ clean!

The first three months in the transition house, was about learning to get back to doing things on my own. For example, waking up every day with a routine – go for a run, have breakfast, put a load of washing on. That sort of thing. I hadn’t done this for years.

The biggest key message I have to share is that you have to be real with yourself. You have to want recovery. That’s why rehab “didn’t work” first time around for me – I was continually lying to myself. I wasn’t being honest with myself about where I was at.

I think that’s what has kept me clean, continually evaluating where I’m at and what I’m feeling.

I still have a sponsor who attends NA frequently, but I don’t participate as much these days. I did a meeting once a day in rehab and twice a day in the transition house and I really didn’t do any more after that. However, I do stay in touch with my sponsor a couple of times a week, and that has worked well for me. I’ve been working with him for the last two years.

Now, I’m at university and studying computer science and mathematics, which I am loving.

One thing that I did do differently after I left rehab was that I deleted all my social media accounts and my old contacts, except for my family. Anyone that I had an association with in using drugs… well, I don’t speak to them anymore. I also got a new phone number.

I moved towns. I moved nearly 1000km south. I’m from Airlie Beach originally and it wasn’t until I had done a year clean that I went back for a visit. I enjoy fishing and boating – however, I don’t think I could have done it any earlier. It’s a small town and you run into people. I just didn’t want to have exposure to anyone from my past.

Although I don’t have cravings for drugs anymore, the hardest part of staying clean was when my mother passed away – I had been eight months’ clean at that stage, and I was devastated. That has probably been the only time that I have been intensely triggered to use. After I got through that, nothing has really come close to those feelings. I am grateful that she had been there to see me get clean and to help me – I will always have these wonderful memories.

There’s always hope if you want recovery.

Now that I’ve been clean for so long, I’ve been able to get back to doing activities that I love. For example, I love music, concerts and going to gigs and stuff. People are always drunk at these types of events. However, I can handle myself in these situations now with no problem. One reason I stopped going to meetings was that people used to tell me that it was impossible to attend these types of events in recovery. While I appreciate that it may be the case for some people, I just didn’t agree with it. Again, you have to be honest with yourself about your why. I go because I’m motivated by my love, and enjoyment of the music. I have come to realise that by not drinking that I can immerse myself fully in the music and the moment.

I own my past. I disclose it when I think it’s important.

Since I became clean, I have made two new friends. I’m dating a lovely young lady – my first foray into a relationship post rehab. I think I told her upfront on one of our first dates why I don’t drink and the reasons why. I have also made another friend at uni – I wasn’t completely honest with him straightaway. However, after a couple of weeks, we went out for a game of pool, he asked me if I’d like a drink. Again, I told him that I didn’t drink and the reasons why. I made it quite clear to them that they didn’t have to feel anxious having a drink around me – that I wasn’t going to be triggered into using. I’ve come to a deep sense of peace that drinking is something I can’t do anymore – and have no desire for either. I’m at the point where I can go out with friends, they can have a drink, and I’ll quite happily sip on a Coke.

Life is good. I am appreciative of my time at the Hader Clinic Queensland and the tools I learned to help me stay clean.

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