May 2021 - Hader Clinic Queensland

My Son’s Recovery

Genevieve, a support worker at Hader Clinic Queensland has battled addiction. So has her son James.

Hi everyone, I’m Genevieve, and I am a support worker at the residential rehab facility at Hader Clinic Queensland. I’ve not only worked in the field of addiction for several years, I’ve also battled with addiction.

I’m coming up on two years’ clean this time round, however, this story isn’t about me, it’s about my son, James.

James did a thirty day program and has been clean, and engaged in our recovery program for the last five months. He’s also about to head back to university.

I’m sharing a bit of my story with you, to give some background and context. I wanted to say that I believe that there’s a mixture of both genetic and environmental impacts that drive the disease of addiction.

My son grew up with me in the height of my addiction, so he was exposed to it, and the drama that goes with it, warts and all, from an early age.

As an adolescent, he developed some mental health issues. He struggled with depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with Attachment Disorder.

By the age of fourteen or fifteen, James was smoking weed.

Eventually he went off to study at university – he was by now living in Florida, USA, with his father. During that time, he did two years of university and sunk from being an A student to barely, or if all passing.

He had become addicted to partying, weed and had developed a gaming addiction.

You could say that he was repeating a pattern he had seen in his childhood.

At 18, he was in and out of hospital because he had suicidal ideations. During this time, his father found out that he’d been abusing prescription ADHD pharmaceuticals, like dexamphetamine, as well as illicit psychedelic drugs and weed.

As fate would have it, we decided to intervene and bring him back to Australia when COVID-19 hit. To be honest, I didn’t realise that things were that bad. When he came back, he was clean for about eight weeks. Then he started using. This coincided with three to four visits to the ER and mental health unit.

His mental health was declining and one day he assaulted me. I immediately drew the line at that behaviour and kicked him out. It made me realise that I was in denial about my son’s addiction.

Being in denial about my son was enabling him – he ran with his addiction until I put up that firm boundary.

There was a week or so of couch surfing. I just couldn’t engage with him in active addiction.
Desperate, James called the Hader Clinic Queensland himself and organised his rehab.

Because I work at the residential rehab, I made a big effort to stay out of James’s clinical treatment, and my colleagues supported me in this.

I wanted this to be James’s story, not my story and I wanted to give him every opportunity to experience rehab in his own way.

I attended the Hader Clinic Queensland family nights as a parent, rather than an employee – it goes without saying that I enabled James by being in complete denial about the level of his addiction and he ran with it.

Once I set a firm boundary with him, he came to the conclusion he needed treatment himself. He was in quarantine for two weeks after an interstate visit – he was losing his life skills, his sleep hygiene was taking a big dive, basically – he knew he was unwell.

We both work the twelve step program. Again, with the tremendous support of the Fellowship, they made me take a step back with James – they told me that it was not my role to “rescue” him and I agree. If he is in trouble, I say, “call your sponsor”.

Now, nearly six month’s clean, he’s about to go back to university full time, majoring in social sciences. His lived experience and issues with mental health will enable him to help others.

James has terrific insight into why he picked up and found himself in addiction. Now that he is clean, the constant suicidal ideations and his mental health overall are more manageable. He is seeing a psychologist regularly and his medication is on track.

Our relationship has improved as he also sees me as a recovering addict as well as his Mum – he knows that I have to work my program just as hard as he does!

I’m proud of my son and know that he is proud of his journey as well.

James’ Addiction Recovery

21 years old James, who grew up exposed to his mother’s battle with addiction undertook our residential addiction treatment program for his own addiction. He is now six months clean.

Hi, my name is James.

Addiction, even when you’re a kid, is what I’d call a lifestyle choice. Being brought up in a home with a parent in full blown addiction is what I’d describe as being chaotic.

However, being a kid, I accepted that this is how things were. By that, I mean, it was normal to be awake for twenty four hours a day, it was normal that your home was dilapidated and that there was often no food to be had. Plus, school was pretty hit and miss.

As well as being schooled in the education system, when I  actually turned up, I was also schooled never to talk about what was going on, should Child Protection Services drop by.

As a teenager, aged 15-16, I started smoking weed with friends. However, the difference was that I was the friend that couldn’t stop. I started isolating myself and doing weed at night in my room, alone.

I didn’t want to care. I didn’t want to feel. I started doing magic mushrooms and LSD with friends.

Then I moved to the USA to live with my Dad and that’s where my use really spiralled. It’s very easy to get drugs there – and they are super cheap. Prescription drugs became my downfall. I was doing dexamphetamine pills, benzodiazepines, anything I could get my hands on.

I was away at college, so my Dad didn’t see there was a problem. Nobody saw what was going on.

I rationalised and normalised my choices as much as I could.  It was “normal” to take speed to get through an all nighter prepping for an exam.  It was “normal” to get cooked with your friends on a day off.

What wasn’t normal about me is that I needed drugs to function. Contemplating vacuuming my floor required me to use beforehand.

I started going to underground raves and started using MDMA. I reckon I would have fried my brains 24/7 if I could have.

I didn’t consider myself an addict – mainly because I wasn’t hung up on using any one substance. I’d use bits and pieces of everything therefore in my mind, I wasn’t addicted to anything and didn’t have a problem.  My friends were worried about me and voiced their concerns.

“If all these people stopped complaining, then I’d be fine,” I thought.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit while I was living with Dad. I decided to stock up on drugs to see me through it. I went on a bender and blacked out for four days. During that time, I broke my toe, shattered my bed frame. I was psychotic.. and embarrassed.

The drugs were making my struggles with mental health worse. Every time I used, my problems appeared to magnify. My Dad didn’t know how to cope. If anything he had the, “get out of bed, get over it and go for a run” attitude – he had no idea what he was dealing with.

Eventually the decision was made that I’d return to Australia.  My girlfriend was in Sydney so I went to visit her which was all fun and games until it wasn’t. I was rapidly becoming very unwell, binge drinking and doctor shopping – so her family kicked me out.

I went home to Queensland and had to quarantine for two weeks. I decided to ask around for amphetamines. I was offered something “quite different from other speed”. It was ice.

Well, that made me mentally ill, violent, psychotic and abusive towards my mum and girlfriend. They told me that they’d both had enough.

“Everyone is making my life difficult,” I thought.

Yet somehow in there I recognised that my life really was out of control and decided to come to rehab.

I did the thirty day residential addiction treatment program and I remember thinking, “how the fuck did I end up here,” while peeing on a drug screen urine test and lighting it up like a Christmas tree. I laughed at how surreal it all was.

However, the outcome was good – I did detox over a few days and came to learn that good rehab is about putting time between your last using and building new life skills. Just putting 24 hours of successful living between you and drugs, one day at a time.

I am involved with NA and have a sponsor. I take each day as it comes and always when feeling stressed use the “HALTS” acronym – am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed” – it’s easy for me to forget that a decent meal can sometimes make the biggest difference.

My future is looking bright. I have enrolled in university studies here and am studying Social Work. I’d like to undertake post grad studies and be involved in the upper management levels of AOD and mental health. Or research the aetiology of addiction.

Recently I returned to Sydney and reconnected with my girlfriend and her family. We have a lot of healing to do.  Likewise, I am getting on better with my parents these days too. We communicate openly and life is much easier for it.

I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for their support and help.

Bob’s Addiction Recovery

Bob is a recovering addict who completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program. This is his story.

G’day. My name’s Bob. I’m 33 years old, and a recovering addict, who thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland, is clean and about to embark upon a psychology degree.

It all started pretty early, really. I started off drinking at the age of 17 and started adding drugs, specifically cocaine, to the mix from age 18.  At the time, I thought nothing of it – it was that drinking and partying rite of passage that everyone goes through, right?

Before I sought treatment, I was working in my family’s reinforcing steel business.  I also worked as a chippie renovating hotel rooms.

However, after school, I’d enrolled at uni and was just doing alcohol and cocaine on occasional weekends. It was an insidious increase in exposure to the point where the drugs became an “every weekend” thing and then three or four years ago, escalated to daily use.

During that time I tried to live “normally” but drugs stole my relationship, and my mental health. I probably had an underlying disposition to being anxious and depressed, and I spent many years on and off anti depressants and bouncing between psychologists to try and solve it.

However, my problem was that I was using to cope with life. I have had four episodes where I’ve been admitted to a psych ward and the last time was because I attempted suicide.

In January, I was living in the Hunter Valley, and was beginning to feel desperate. I was thinking that perhaps a stint in a private mental health hospital may slay the demons.  Even though I’d been before and it clearly hadn’t worked in the long term.

My parents suggested that I go to alcohol and drug rehab. I made a deal with them and agreed to go as long as they organised it.

This was the beginning of my journey with The Hader Clinic Queensland. I was admitted in January and initially thought that I was heading to a wellness retreat.

Put it this way, arriving at the rehab was a real shock to the system and initially I didn’t want to be there. I detoxed during the first five days and it took awhile for me to accept that I was going to be there for ninety days. In those initial days, I felt suicidal and desperate.

However, I resigned myself to the fact that I was in the here and now and decided to give the rehab a crack.

Once, I had made that decision, my mood started to lift. I felt like life was improving and that I was able to think clearly about my situation.  After being embroiled in the drama of drugs and alcohol for all these years –- plus losing my marriage and watching my mates get pinched was a catalyst to me deciding “enough was enough”.

I worked the program and once I finished rehab, I have continued to work the program – I go to NA regularly and have a home group and sponsor.

Moving back home with Mum and Dad has really helped. As well as being supportive, our relationship has improved in leaps and bounds, especially as our prior communication was once or twice every few months. They are proud that I went to rehab and I am grateful that they’re in my corner.

I have enrolled at Uni and will be studying psychology in July at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

If I had any words of wisdom to share they would be, “if you’re not ready to go to rehab, don’t bother”.

Rehab doesn’t work unless you decide to put in the work to make it happen. I have to work hard every day, making the changes I need to live my life clean.

Yes, it’s been tough, but it’s been worth it and I have the Hader Clinic Queensland to thank for it!

Sean’s Addiction Recovery

Sean completed our 90 day residential addiction treatment program for his alcohol addiction. Today he’s celebrating 22 months of recovery. This is his story.

Hi, my name is Sean. I completed the 90 day residential rehab program at The Hader Clinic Queensland in June 2019, where I received treatment for my alcoholism. After I completed my program, I spent eight months in the transition house, and finished in May 2020.

Today I am celebrating 22 months of sobriety. My life today is incredible – if you’d asked me about it 22 months ago, you couldn’t begin to imagine the changes I’ve experienced – and it’s all been for the better.

Leaving the transition house in May 2020 was a tad scary – as we were in peak COVID times here in Australia. It was scary because I wanted to be able to secure a job that I actually wanted.

As part of my recovery, I had decided that I wanted my previous  career in corporate mining– and I was worried about getting stuck in a dead end job because that was all that may be available, due to COVID.

With this in mind, I saved every penny I could when I was in the Transition House. It meant that I was able to rent a studio apartment for a couple of months and allow myself to adjust back to life on the “outside”.

In the meantime, I poured my energy in to looking for the right type of employment and as luck would have it, I was able to secure a position working for a mining company, in a role that I am very happy with.

Securing such a great job meant that I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment within walking distance to work. I needed two bedrooms as my daughter stays with me every second weekend which has been great.

Speaking of family, the relationships within my family are continuing to improve with every passing week.

When I was in the grip of addiction, I found it hard to take an interest in my family – but these days, without alcohol in the way I am getting to know my kids in ways I didn’t know were possible. It’s also been great that my ex-wife and I have been getting along well, which has probably also helped our parenting.

Twelve months ago, I started seeing a new partner. Naturally, I was cautious about revealing my battles with addiction to somebody I didn’t know all that well, so when she noticed I didn’t drink, and asked me about it, I simply told her that I did a “Dry July” and kept it going.

Now that we know each other better, I’ve gradually been more open about addiction and why I sought treatment for it. Occasionally, my partner will have a glass of wine, but these days I’m not remotely tempted.

Of course, the last twenty two months hasn’t been without challenges. Every now and again after a hard day’s work, I think, “gee, I could go for a beer”. However, I just treat that as a passing moment in time – the training and education I received from The Hader Clinic Queensland – helped me to put those thoughts firmly in check and is automatic now, like a non-smoker walking past a tobacco shop. Mostly I don’t think about alcohol at all.

I think what hits home the most to me is that during my morning walk to work, I often pass homeless people. As I got to this point in active addiction where I spent two nights too many on the street after having lost everything, it’s a wakeup call for me. It’s a reminder of how far I have risen.

I know that if I ever picked up a drink again, that would be my destiny – because it’s already happened once.

If I had any advice to give about rehab and sobriety, I would say, “just do it.”

However, realise that the journey is one of hard work and self-reflection – and that by putting in the “hard yards” you can live the life of your wildest dreams on the other side. Yes, it is possible.

The journey of recovery hasn’t stopped for me. I continue to evolve and grow as a person. I have a few sayings that resonate with me – “strive for perfection but know that you will never achieve it”, and, “be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be”.

I understand that perfection is not attainable, yet I try and strive for the highest standards in my life as I can. I am happy with that.

I am on day 9 of giving up smoking and with what I know about addiction through the Hader Clinic Queensland and tools and knowledge of how to overcome any urge, no matter what it is, I have found it relatively easy so far. It is a journey that I have contemplated for a while, and now I have the ability to execute this next goal.

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