June 2021 - Hader Clinic Queensland

The Physical Effects of Ice

Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, is a highly addictive drug that stimulates the brain and nervous system. This causes intense pleasure and clarity and many users have described the effect as possessing increased energy and feeling that they have a better ability to make good decisions.

These symptoms are the result of ice significantly increasing levels of the hormone dopamine in the body, often up to 1,000 times higher than a standard level. This is higher than any other pleasure-inducing drug or activity.

The effect ice has on the body depends on the strength of the drug, the method of administration and the quantity used. Individuals may wish to smoke the drug, which has an immediate high. Others may choose to swallow it, which may take almost half an hour for symptoms to take effect.

Ice can also cause an increased heart and breathing rate, an increased sex drive, a reduction in appetite and an increase in pupil dilation.

The effects of ice commonly last anywhere between four and 12 hours, sometimes even up to 24 hours after taking the drug. However, traces can remain in urine and blood for up to three days.

Once the effects of ice wear off, you will experience the come down, which often induces opposite feelings to your high. This may mean feeling depressed, irritable, anxious or nervous, as well as having difficulty making good decisions and concentrating. You may also get headaches, have a sudden appetite or blurred vision.

It is also common to feel tired after coming down from a high, however many users have noted they have trouble sleeping despite feelings of exhaustion. Users also often experience paranoia and hallucinations.

Ice targets the dopamine system, so regular use of ice can wear out the brain’s natural dopamine system. This means the brain will no longer be able to produce enough dopamine on its own, commonly causing feelings of depression. In order for individuals to feel more normal, they will turn to ice to raise those dopamine levels. This is one reason why ice relapse rates are significantly high.

For regular ice users, or those who use ice in higher doses, the positive effects of the high become less and less pleasurable over time. Users may only experience an increased heart and breathing rate, however other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, anxiousness, hostility, aggression or psychotic episodes may also occur during the high, as ice causes the release of noradrenaline, a brain chemical that provokes a fight or flight response.

If you take too much ice, you are at risk of overdosing and experiencing a stroke, heart failure or even seizures.

It takes up to two weeks to physically detox from ice, which is twice as long as other drugs. After this initial withdrawal period, you may experience a chronic withdrawal period that can last over a year.

You are likely dependant on a drug if you constantly need more of the drug to experience the same effect, you are having withdrawal symptoms, it is impacting your work, home or school life, or if you are spending significant amounts of time seeking, using or recovering from the drug.

If you are struggling with an addiction and looking for an approved addiction treatment provider, The Hader Clinic Queensland can help. Reach out today and create a better path for your future.

Lawry’s Addiction Recovery

The Hader Clinic Queensland helped Lawry with his addiction to ice. He bravely shares his story below.

My name is Lawry and I first shared my story just over a year ago. I descended into a drug using hell, trying to cope with the trauma of witnessing a terrible accident.

I started rehab at the Hader Clinic Queensland on 20th May 2020, and completed the full 90 day program.

After I finished residential rehab, I found it confronting enough just to be going home. I was lucky to stay in a safe environment with my parents and had the Hader Aftercare App to support me as well.

Given my personal situation, I was most comfortable taking things slowly. I used the App for three months religiously, checking in every morning with Olivia. It was like being in rehab still, but in my home environment.

My parents have been my rock. I don’t know how I would have coped without them. They have been nothing but patient, encouraging and supportive of me. They understand that I’m still suffering from the aftermaths of the accident. I am still in therapy to help me deal with things.

A simple thing like a workplace health and safety video can give me bad flashbacks. However, I am slowly getting there.

My relationship with my ex-wife and kids has improved too. I have my children every second week. It’s been financially tough, but I really value the relationship I have with both my ex-wife and kids. The opportunity to co parent with my ex-wife has been a blessing.

It is wonderful to “feel present” around my kids. You can see they have benefitted greatly. I have four kids, 15, 10, 8 and 3. My fifteen year old daughter was aware of my addiction but since I sought treatment she has been on board. We talk about things and she keeps me honest.

I haven’t worked since my accident. I have still been suffering with a fair amount of anxiety and panic attacks. Luckily for me, my Dad also hasn’t worked and has been my greatest support at home.

It took a while to pluck up the courage to leave the house. Addiction had left me isolated and alone. I knew I had to reconnect with others, but it challenged me.

This is where doing some meetings, and reconnecting with my sponsor helped. I also still do the Hader Clinic Queensland in house transition meeting on a Wednesday night. Initially I didn’t follow through with my sponsor, but could see the benefits of meeting older, cleaner people who had more time under their belts being clean.

I learned that I could be of service and have shared my story on government campaign videos discussing ice. I was also involved in a “Rolling Stone” magazine interview.

All the way along this journey, my parents have gently walked beside me in support.

Being of service and sharing my story has made me grateful for my recovery, even though at times the trajectory is slow. I do want to give people hope that recovery is possible.

Being at home, initially I was scared of “people”, “places” and “things”, however I slowly made progress by contacting old friends through the internet. It was nice that some of them wanted to find out about how to go to rehab. I told them that it was worth grasping onto with both hands.

Life, however, isn’t always rosy for me. I am grateful for the Hader Clinic Queensland as it has taught me how to manage high pressure situations.

For example, I had to travel to Brisbane for a medical assessment. The thought of travelling to that appointment and trying to escape the feeling of how awful I sometimes feel about the past was anxiety inducing. Had it not been for the support I have, I could have easily picked up as a means to cope.

However, I could see this coming – thanks to my rehab program I could pre-empt some of that anxiety. So, I reached out and asked for help. Dad came with me and while the experience took it out of me for a bit and I isolated a little, I connected immediately with my sponsor and saw my therapist.

That is what the journey of recovery has taught me – to learn to share my feelings, to ask for help and to be open with those who support me.

I am trying to give back as much as I can. I really connected with some of the DVA clients in rehab – especially on the level of suffering trauma. They understand how dark I got and it was relieving to connect with others who were going through and understood similar tragedies.

My recovery has had a ripple effect on my family. My parents are now at ease with me. They understand where I’m at and we have rebuilt trust.

I am forever grateful for the gift of recovery that The Hader Clinic Queensland has given me – and want to share that recovery is possible and it’s worth it. Thank you, HCQ.

How to Help a Friend Suffering From Addiction

Before your friend or family member enters residential addiction treatment, you need to know how to recognise the signs of addiction and know how to help.

Having a loved one struggling with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol can be a harrowing experience. It’s easy to feel hopeless, helpless and isolated; but it’s important to remember that you are not alone and help is available – for your loved one as well as yourself.

How Can You Tell?

It can be difficult to see the signs of substance dependency. Addicts are often very good at concealing their substance abuse and this can lead to you questioning your instincts and suspicions. That said, there are some fairly reliable indicators that something is not right.

Changes in Behaviour

Addiction is a brain disorder and can have dramatic effects on your loved one’s behaviour. Persons addicted to drugs and/or alcohol may:

  • Become usually withdrawn
  • Isolate themselves from friends and family
  • Lose interest in their usual social and recreational activities
  • Struggle to meet the demands of work and/or school
  • Exhibit dramatic mood swings
  • Become overly defensive when the subject of substance abuse is raised
  • Experience financial difficulties
  • Experience relationship difficulties
  • Seem agitated and restless for no reason
  • Exhibit bizarre sleeping patterns

Physical Symptoms

It’s not easy to distinguish the physical symptoms of substance abuse from symptoms of regular ill-health. However, your loved one may be struggling with addiction if they:

  • Exhibit sudden weight loss or gain
  • Get unexplained shakes
  • Have a constantly running nose or the sniffles
  • Have red or bloodshot eyes
  • Have frequent nose bleeds
  • Appear to be experiencing withdrawal systems
  • Need to consume increasingly large amounts of drugs and/or alcohol to feel the effect
  • Present with small or dilated pupils
  • Slur their speech

Evidence

Apart from physical and psychological warning signs, drug and/or alcohol abuse also comes with physical evidence (i.e. paraphernalia). Some things to look out for are:

  • Blackened spoons
  • Discarded syringes
  • Hand-rolled cigarettes with a rolled-up cardboard filter
  • Singed bits of foil
  • Discarded wrapping (i.e. small pieces of clingwrap, cardboard or foil)
  • Pipes or home-made smoking paraphernalia (i.e. plastic bottles, light bulbs or drink cans)

How Can You Help?

Before you attempt to help a loved one struggling with addiction, it is important to understand that it is not within your power to force them to make a change. While you can absolutely be supportive and caring, the decision to stop has to be made by the addict. That said, there are a number of things you can to in preparation to help them when they are ready to accept they have a problem.

Be Realistic

Breaking the vicious cycle of addiction isn’t easy. Even once an addict has sought help and gotten clean, the recovery period extends far beyond the first step of detox and rehab. Set-backs and relapses are to be expected – so, you need to be realistic in your expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointment and distress.

Healing from addiction takes time and no matter how supportive you are, there will be times when your loved one will seem ungrateful or just straight-up cruel in their responses to your efforts. Try not to take it to personally and disengage from confrontational exchanges as soon as you can. There is little point in getting into an argument; it is much better for everyone involved to drop the subject and try again once tempers have settled.

Timing & Tact

Starting a conversation with a loved one about their substance abuse requires some planning and finesse. Some strategies that can be helpful include

  • Never try to have this conversation when your loved one is drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Meet in a neutral space to talk – however, stay away from places that serve alcohol or facilitate drug use
  • Be prepared to listen without judgement
  • Describe the effect your loved one’s addiction has on people close to them. For instance, an addict may not be concerned with the damage they are doing to themselves; but they will be horrified to realise that their substance abuse and associated behaviours are hurting their children/colleagues/partner
  • Do your research on drug and/or alcohol recovery services in your area before you have this talk. If your loved one is receptive, you can direct them to these services for the next step in getting help.

For more information on helping a friend or family member struggling with addiction, download our free Family Guide to Addiction.

Luke’s Addiction Recovery

Bereft, devastated and unable to stay clean, Luke undertook residential rehabilitation for his cocaine and alcohol addiction.

Hello, my name is Luke and I’m a recovering addict. I’m now fifty years old, and I was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

It all started when I finished my studies at the University of Melbourne. I worked as an actor for seven years post Arts degree. I was in a relationship with a woman who was addicted to heroin. Our relationship was tumultuous and she broke things off with me.

Desperate to get back with her, and lacking self esteem and confidence, I agreed that I’d try heroin with her if she turned up at a certain location at a certain time. She never turned up and I tried it anyway. I began to understand why people use heroin, it just numbed the pain.

Cocaine was an accident. I’d scored what I had thought was heroin, but actually got cocaine instead. It was love at first use. I used for about 18 months before I went into rehab. I was 28, and living in Sydney at the time.

With rehab, I stayed clean for eleven months. Then I relapsed. At this particular time, I hadn’t drunk alcohol for ten years. However, I moved from Sydney to the Northern Territory and suddenly cocaine just wasn’t freely available.

Therefore, I turned to drinking to fill the addictive gap.

During my time in the Northern Territory, I met my wife. I stopped taking drugs. Life was good and I drank socially.

However, I was not happy in my employment, and to cope, I started drinking more, to the point that it was beginning to become problematic.

My wife was well aware of my drinking but didn’t consider it to be a problem. I knew differently.

I had a drive in – drive out job and I worked away for the majority of each week. While I was away, I would drink to excess, but from Friday to Sunday when I was at home, I didn’t touch alcohol. I hid my addiction well from my wife and daughter.

An unexpected family tragedy saw us pack up and leave Australia. My wife is from the UK and we decided that we’d have better family support if we moved there.

However, that was the beginning of more problems for me as my Visa to enter and work in the UK was mysteriously rejected. The process of getting my Visa properly sorted out was a nightmare – it took 18 months to rectify the initial mistake and in order to do so, I had to surrender my passport, licence etc for the Home Office paperwork process.

I was effectively stranded. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t get a phone or a drivers license. I was helpless.

To cope with this latest challenge, I started drinking again and then found cocaine. Meanwhile, my wife was working. My cocaine addiction spiralled out of control to the point where I was using daily.

My wife had noticed that I had cleaned out our bank accounts. She tried to be supportive, but as I slid further into the grip of addiction, my behaviour also deteriorated as she caught me telling lies.

She thought that I was having an affair, and kicked me out of the house.

I was bereft and devastated. My mother came over from Australia for a visit, and immediately sensed something was very wrong. I had lost a lot of weight, was trying to attend NA meetings and I was trying to reconcile with my ex.

I couldn’t stay clean. If was as if my brain was “blocked” when I thought of anything related to my using or a different way – I literally couldn’t find a safe space within myself.

My mother brought me home just as COVID-19 hit. We flew from Heathrow to Sydney and then finally to Brisbane. We were one of the first sets of passengers to be forced into hotel quarantine.

I agreed during this time to go to rehab. I travelled straight from Brisbane to The Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehab.

The process reminded me a bit of my first rehab. It was based on the 12 Step fellowship and I took part in the 90 day program. I had already completed some of the steps, but this time what hit home for me was that I’d been hanging onto the past.

I was punishing myself for situations that were out of my control. I had to learn to treat myself well, as if the rest of the world would treat you.

Of course, I didn’t want to be there. There was all kinds of internal resistance going on – I wanted to be at home with my daughter. During the second and third months, I started to surrender. I wrote letters to my ex wife asking to reconcile. I also had an ultrasound and discovered that I had severely damaged my liver, being diagnosed with Stage 3 cirrhosis.

I was devastated, however, when I went to see the specialist gastroenterologist, I was told that a mistake had been made and while there was liver damage, if I kept living clean, it was totally reversible.

At that moment I realised that my own self pity had been holding me back and that I still had every chance of a full and happy life. That evening, I slept like a baby.

After I left rehab, I stayed in Australia. I wanted to accumulate some money to right some of the wrongs I had made. I have always been known for (and proud of) having an exceptional work ethic, so when I returned to the United Kingdom to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, I paid my ex back the money I had taken.

Our relationship is over, but we talk, communicate and are co-parenting our daughter in a positive way.

I am concentrating on being the best dad to our daughter that I can be and I’m restarting the UK business that I had before COVID-19 struck.

I am grateful to all at the Hader Clinic Queensland for encouraging me to stick around and am looking forward to what the future brings.

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