November 2021 - Hader Clinic Queensland

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a disease that can affect any individual and requires alcohol addiction treatment.

It does not have a specific cause or determining factor. However, genetic, psychological, or behavioural factors may contribute to having an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions impact the brain and neurochemistry, which means that individuals with the disease may be unable to control their actions. A variety of factors impact the severity of the disease, such as how often a person drinks, how much they drink, and the type of alcohol that is consumed. Some may drink every day, and others may binge drink and have periods of sobriety.

If you heavily rely on alcohol and can’t stay sober for an extended period, you may have an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions are different to drug addictions, as alcohol is widely available and accepted, unlike drugs. Alcohol is commonly linked to parties or celebrations. For this reason, it can be difficult to recognise alcohol addiction.

It may be tricky to determine whether someone enjoys having a few drinks, or if they have an addiction. Symptoms of addiction include:

  • You have increased the quantity of alcohol you consume
  • You increase the frequency of alcohol consumption
  • You have a high tolerance for alcohol or often don’t feel symptoms of a hangover
  • You drink alcohol at times that are not appropriate. For example, early mornings or during work
  • If you always want to be somewhere where you can access alcohol, and if you avoid areas that have no access to alcohol
  • If there is a change in your friendships, for example, you may be choosing to make friends with other alcohol addicts
  • You avoid contacting loved ones
  • You hide your alcohol or hide when you drink
  • You feel a dependence on alcohol to get through everyday life
  • You feel an increase in tiredness, depression, or other mental health issues
  • You have experienced professional or legal problems, for example, you lost your job

Addictions often worsen over time. For this reason, you should look out for early warning signs to target as early as possible to avoid drastic consequences that arise because of alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions can cause a variety of health issues, such as:

  • Heart or liver disease, which can be fatal
  • The emergence of ulcers
  • Complications with diabetes
  • Birth defects
  • Loss of bone
  • Problems with your vision
  • An increased risk of cancer

Taking risks while intoxicated can also cause fatal accidents. For example, drink driving, as well as drinking is associated with higher cases of suicide or murder. However, most of these risks can be eradicated if the alcohol addiction is targeted early.

Some treatment options include residential addiction treatment, alcoholics anonymous groups, other support groups, drug therapy, counselling, or nutritional changes.

If you believe you’re living with an addict, the Hader Clinic Queensland can help you understand how to navigate this moving forward.

Brendon’s Addiction Recovery

Fearing for the future of his sons, Brendon undertook residential rehabilitation for his drug and alcohol addiction.

I’m Brendon. I’m a 35 years young father of two young boys, aged four and one. I’m their full-time carer. I am their world and they are mine – and I plan to keep it that way.

I’ve been clean for a year now – when I was in the grip of addiction, I experienced cannabis addiction, prescription drug addiction, and whatever else I could try – everything really.

My journey into addiction started at around 15 or 16. It was mainly weed at that stage. The benzo addiction didn’t really start until just before I went to rehab.

I left school in Year 8 because I was hanging around with the wrong crowd. Dad was a road train driver and organised work for me. He sent me off to the country (NT) to work as a stockman. I’d be away for ten months of the year then come home to two months of holidays. I worked as a stockman for eight years.

I would hit the drugs pretty hard when I was at home and then go back to work and “detox” per se. Until I went to Hader Clinic Queensland, I did not realise that I used alcohol as a substitute. There’s a huge drinking culture out West – they used to say, “swap the wicks for the dicks”.

Even when I stopped working as a stockman, eight years later, I was still really young. I became a truck driver and that’s when I started using ice and speed. I’m still a truck driver today.

My using just progressed. I never had any inkling to do anything about it – it was what I had chosen and I lived with it.

My partner and I were together for nine years. She’s now my ex. We met in Darwin and eventually moved to Brisbane. When I moved to Brisbane, it was the worst thing I could have done. I fell into old ways and old habits. I associated with the wrong people.

My ex was a heavy drinker who would dabble in drugs on occasion. I reckon she was an alcoholic. Four years into the relationship, she stopped drinking. I didn’t realise she also had a drug problem.

Just before I went into rehab, she was getting out of control. So was I. Everything was falling apart. I thought it was my fault, so that’s one reason I went to rehab.

When I left rehab, the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland pleaded with me not to go back into that situation.

However, there was just no way that I could leave my kids in that situation, so I went back.

Of course, things with her just got worse and worse and out of control. She left one night and took up with one of her drug dealer friends and I saw that as my perfect opportunity to scoop up the kids, leave the house and the relationship, and start afresh.

Since I left with the kids all those months ago, she hasn’t tried to get in contact with them once. It’s pretty sad. It’s not terrible for me, but it is awful for the kids. It’s not too bad for the one-year-old, but the four-year-old asks where she is all the time and it’s pretty hard. I’m grateful for my Mum, she’s stepped into that grandparenting role and looks after the boys a lot. So at least they are establishing a solid relationship with her.

I became hooked on benzos through friends. I wasn’t doctor shopping or anything like that, being a pot smoker for 15 years meant that I liked the effects of the benzos. My ex had a hip replacement and was on painkillers and benzos. I’d just have them here and there and then it escalated.

When I went to rehab, I was really stressed out about the physical withdrawal effects from stopping the benzos, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I didn’t think that I’d be able to sleep, but instead I went to rehab and slept like a baby.

Rehab was the best thing I have ever done. My family – my sisters and my dad got me into rehab. I accessed some of my super on medical grounds and my dad offered to pay the rest.

It was a phone call one afternoon, and two days later I was walking down the steps of the rehab.

I was very willing to go to rehab. Just before I went, I moved out of home, things were getting volatile. It spiralled out of control a bit more after that as well.

By the time I got to rehab, I was a broken mess. I couldn’t stop crying for the first two weeks. I was hurting. I knew that I had been going against the grain, against the person that I wanted to be.

To sum up, I went in a broken, defeated person and came out the other side as a completely different person. It makes me emotional just thinking about it.

Deep down, I wanted this for my kids as much as anything. Being addicted to drugs meant that I’d never been truly present for them and I was desperate for this to change.

I’m so thankful that I went to rehab because now I’ve got the kids full time – it’s hectic and there’s no way I could do that with drugs in my system. Single parenting is hard, but I am deliriously happy being a hands-on dad.

What turned me around was starting to believe that I could get off the drugs (once I realised the withdrawal wasn’t that bad). I just put my head down and worked the program, and did exactly what the staff told me to do.

It wasn’t without drama though, because I had the worry of the kids being with my drug-addled partner. She was using heavily and I didn’t know who was around the kids.

All I wanted to do was go home and retrieve them. I had Sally as a counsellor, plus JJ and Donna all helped me so much to deal with this trauma.

I wanted to leave two or three times and JJ and Donna talked me out of it, convincing me that I’d be a much more effective dad if I was clean and working a solid program.

That made me grow in there. I could have a really bad day where all I wanted to do was leave but I’d be able to calm down and work things out – whereas before, I’d just blow up.

I literally have done a full 180 in life as a result of attending rehab.

Weekend leave helped me too. I didn’t realise that eating was a problem for me – skipping breakfast amongst other things wasn’t helping me. Hader Clinic Queensland helped me realise the importance of having a routine, which I really enjoy.

There have also been some hard times. JJ, Donna, Mark and Sally have been instrumental in helping me cope. My ex filed a DV complaint against me in court – I have just been fully cleared of any wrongdoing.

After I left rehab, I did a month’s worth of outpatient’s program until I was offered a full-time job, which I took. I needed structure and certainty around work, especially providing for my boys. I work hard to be able to take out some time to continue to do meetings but to be honest my main driving force is the boys. I am clean because I want to be a better dad.

I also made a couple of good friends in rehab and we have a great connection. We support each other through the good and bad times. Plus, my relationship with my own family is the best it has ever been.

My future is bright. I love being a dad. It’s the best job in the world and I am grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me achieve this outcome.

Mick’s Addiction Recovery

Mick completed residential addiction treatment and then relapsed. He asked for help and entered rehab again. This is his story.

My name is Mick. I’ve told my story a couple of times for the Hader Clinic Queensland, but this one will be different.

Recently, I decided I’m going to write a book – I’ve always wanted to. It’s going to be about “the 10 people you meet in Australia”. Which of the 10 am I? I’m the storyteller.

This is the story about my relapse: leaving rehab, relapsing, asking for help and entering rehab again, and life now.

In rehab, I learned to surrender. Surrender is the first thing, and I really had to dig deep to surrender to the fact that I had a problem. And, that there was a solution.

I went through my whole life rebounding off one problem to the next. I never actually solved any of them, but the program taught me that there’s a solution if we learn to look for it.

When I left the rehab, I didn’t look at myself any different. I didn’t perceive anyone else to be different. I noticed a lot more of what had happened in my life, and I had a lot more compassion and empathy for others.

I could identify a lot more with people because I understood they were probably in the grips of some problem they’d repressed.

When I left, I knew I had a program that was going to keep me clean.

But I stopped working the program. I disconnected.

It was a slow progression. I stopped reading the literature. I stopped going to meetings.

I had my niece move in with me. She’s still in addiction. She smokes pot, and now uses speed.

She was smoking around me all the time, and I refused dozens of times, but one day I thought, why not? I was sick of smelling it. Everyone in the building was smoking pot. I had resisted for so long, and I got a bit resentful. The company I was working for wouldn’t give me more hours. I was getting 2 hours a day. I just got resentful.

Plus, there were my fears too. I asked them for more work, and they said yes, we’ll give you some more, but that was the end of that conversation, and nothing happened.

It was my own fault for not speaking out. I should have kept pushing.

There’s a multitude of things I did wrong.

But I’ve learned from that. I know where I went wrong, and I know what to do next time.

When I did seek help, I rang Olivia.

I can’t even remember that day. I can’t remember ringing Olivia. I was stoned and drunk. She told me when I was here, during one of the last check-ins, that I had rung her up crying. I don’t really remember. I guess I suppressed it. I’ve suppressed a lot of things in my life.

She got me back into the program. I did the full 90 days again, and then 9 months in transition.

It was less daunting going back the second time. I knew what was expected of me. I knew the daily program. I could tell you exactly what the routine was for the daily program.

Hayden told me on the phone before I arrived at rehab “There are no expectations from anyone – not from the staff, and so there should be no expectations from you. You’re not being judged. So don’t judge yourself.”

That was probably the best thing he could have said to me, that yeah okay you messed up, but no one’s going to judge you.

I went up there without guilt. I was guilty but without shame and remorse.

When I got to the rehab, Mark greeted me. I walked down the steps and he looked up at me. He looked at me as if he were meeting a different person. It wasn’t like “Woah you’re back again” – he already knew I was coming, but he didn’t make a big deal about it.

When I unpacked my bags and went through them, he said, “You’re under no illusion that you’re gonna be judged. We’re not going to expect anything from you.”

I got a bit of an idea that he, Hayden, and Mel had had a conversation about how to start me off.

I think that was the greatest help for me. I went into the program as if I was new again.

Being at rehab again, I could be open with everyone and say I messed up, and that I will try and do things differently. That was my motto.

I am going to do things differently. I will do things differently.

I learned that I had to tackle my mental health first. The first time, I thought I had to “stay clean”, but unbeknownst to me, it was my mental health I had to work on the most.

I had to fix my mentality, the way I looked at things. I had to work on that before I really tackled my addiction.

I do it now. I do it all the time. I live in a boarding house with people who aren’t really the cleanest. There are always dirty dishes in the sink, always bins full. I’ve got to learn to live with that. I can’t let that override my mental health. I have to find ways to deal with that.

My way of dealing with it is to just ignore it. If I take it on board, it’ll eat away at me. The building owner said to me one day, “If you have any problems, just text me and I’ll deal with them. Don’t you deal with them”.

I think he sort of read my mind. I do that now. I hand it over to my higher power and I give it to someone else. It works itself out in the end.

It’s funny how this program works – they put people in your life that are there to help you too.

My boss understands my situation, and he doesn’t drink either.

I had been working at a restaurant in South bank. I was a floor attendee on Friday and Saturday nights. It got to a point where it became too much for me. I couldn’t handle people being drunk around me. So, I rang my boss up and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”

He goes, “I’ll put you in another place.”

I ended up taking a month off to recover and reset. When I was ready, he asked me if I’d like to do the same job, but working for a fine dining restaurant. I said yes.

I had fears about it – the first night I went there, I enjoyed it. The second time, I enjoyed it. I don’t resent going there. That’s what was happening at my old work – I resented going there, because I knew it was going to play on my mind, these young people, just making a mess and not caring.

I have a life now. I don’t sit around at home. Life’s better now. I’m free.

This week, when I finished work, I went home, had a shower, and I jumped on the train and went to the Gold Coast. I went for a swim. I did this two days in a row.

I do things now, instead of sitting around and becoming complacent. That’s what happened last time; I sat around and became complacent.

I go and do things. I buy things that interest me and that I can use. Like the gold detector. I usually just find crap jewellery, but it’s a bit of fun. I’ve got fishing rods, so I go off and go fishing. I recently bought a video camera.

Staying clean is my main priority. I’ve got to find solutions, and for me that’s staying busy, not becoming complacent, and finding hobbies.

That’s what I’ve done differently this time. I’ve got a life outside recovery.

I do go to meetings. I like to mix up the meetings I attend to keep it interesting.

Sometimes, I walk into those meetings full of fear and doubt, but the moment someone smiles at me or talks to me, my perception changes of why I’m there. I’ve got no fear anymore.

Life’s good. I’m living.

Michael’s Addiction Recovery

After returning from Afghanistan, Michael turned to ice to cope with his feelings of isolation. Then he completed residential addiction treatment and is looking forward to becoming a dad. This is his story.

My name is Michael. At the time of doing this interview with the Hader Clinic Queensland, my partner could be about to deliver our baby girl at any moment. She was due yesterday, so I’m anticipating a call soon. I’m so excited. We’ll be meeting our daughter soon.

I never thought I’d be a dad. Two years ago, I was in the midst of battling my ice addiction, and the only thing on my mind was ice… finding it, getting it, and making sure my supply didn’t run out.

I grew up in a small, quiet town in Victoria. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly close with my family. Really, I was a little arsehole to my parents.

When I was 19, I joined the army. I basically moved from the bottom of Australia all the way up to Darwin. As a kid, that was unreal. I found myself on the other side of Australia, which is like here but hotter.

I mostly enjoyed it.  Did it for 9 years, so obviously, there was something I liked about it. The last few years, when I got back from Afghanistan, were not great.

There was really nothing like Afghanistan.

That’s where my PTSD comes from.

The community within the army was really awesome. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of my mental health issues was isolating myself. I pulled away when I was with that community.

In 2013, I arrived back from Afghanistan, and I wasn’t doing well. I was seeing doctors and psychologists, spending time in and out of mental wards… it was a difficult time. I was isolating myself.

I didn’t really go to my family for help or to talk about any of it. I was by myself, really struggling.

Before the ice, I had used other substances. I’ve smoked marijuana, done cocaine a couple of times, and drank too much. I went from “drinking too much” to full-blown ice addiction.

I’d just been fired, had a relationship breakdown, and was already in and out of the hospital with mental health stuff going on. I had pretty severe anxiety and depression. A little bit of PTSD too.

My family knew I was struggling and tried to get me to move back a little closer to them. I still isolated myself.

The ice use didn’t start until I was well and truly “by myself”.

A complete stranger offered it to me. I didn’t hesitate when I said “yes”. A year before, if someone had offered it to me, I probably would have said no. But I was by myself and having a really hard time – it honestly looked like fun.

The first time I tried it, it gave me psychosis. There was maybe half an hour of relief from everything – really noticeable relief. I instantly became sociable, less anxious, was in a great mood, and felt energetic. It was an instant fix to everything.

From the first time I used, I didn’t stop for about 6 months. All I was thinking was just, “I don’t want to run out of this.” Procuring it was a constant battle, trying to find it and always have it.

Apart from the relief, there was severe paranoia and proper psychosis – I was experiencing actual proper fear. There was real terror… but then relief from that by using. It was a vicious cycle. There were good periods where it would help you ignore all of that, but it created all of that as well.

There were maybe three times I wanted to stop. In moments where I didn’t have any, I would start realising what it was doing to me. I thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.

I was on the phone trying to figure out how to stop, and then realising I can’t find out how to stop. I didn’t know how.

I was googling rehabs, I was googling drug and alcohol counsellors. I do remember Narcotics Anonymous coming up, but didn’t really think much about it.

My family knew I was using. They didn’t know what to do – I’d disappear for months at a time – but they wanted to help get me into rehab.

Eventually, they got in contact with Jay at the Hader Clinic Queensland.

I was amazed. He had had experience with substance abuse and explained what happened to him – gave me his life story. That was the very first time I had met an addict who had stopped.

It was a relief to hear Jay’s story. I’d never heard of that (recovering). Everyone knows someone who uses or has a problem with substances, but no one knows you can stop. That’s sort of like a fairy-tale.

I wasn’t hopeful for myself, but I was amazed to hear someone who had done it.

Jay said he could get me into rehab to help me, and I sort of thought, I don’t have any other options. I believed in what Jay said, so I went.

When I arrived at the residential rehab, I was just going through the motions. I was too tired to argue. I thought “may as well, got nothing else going on”.

Originally, I was going to do 30 days, but after maybe 30 arguments with the staff and my family, they convinced me to stay another 30 days.

At the end of 60 days, I decided to continue on to 90 days, and thought, maybe I should do outpatients too.

To be honest, in the first 30 days I “didn’t have a problem”. I hadn’t acknowledged that yet. It wasn’t until about 80 days in that things started clicking for me.

I was getting to the end of the program thinking, okay, I’m going to be coming out of here, going back to Victoria. My brain was going, right, so you’ll get off the plane, get on the train, but before you get on the train, you’re going to have to go to South Yarra… I need to get more meth for the train ride home.

And I thought, “oh”.

I realised that after 80 days of talking about my substance abuse problem, I still had a soft plan to use again. That was the moment I said to myself, “I might have a problem. I need to do something about it.”

Rehab was really hard.

I was still really suffering from psychosis, even after I had stopped using. I had that going on and was thinking, if this is going to be my life forever, I may as well keep using.

I had to ask for help.

I had to talk about my feelings.

I had to talk about my past.

I had to socialise with others.

I had to cook for myself.

I had to keep something tidy.

I had to wake up at the same time every day.

I had to go to class.

I honestly hated rehab.

I was still isolating myself too – I thought “No one knows what I’ve been through, no one can relate”.

Finishing up at rehab, I was in a great mood. I was really excited to be doing the transitional housing program. I could live in sunny Queensland, maybe go to the beach and surf, be away from all the shit in Victoria, and most importantly, I wouldn’t be allowed drugs or alcohol.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without rehab, even if it was really hard. But if I hadn’t completed the transitional housing program, I wouldn’t have made it this far either.

There were some hard lessons I needed to learn, and if I hadn’t been in the transition house being held accountable, I really would have fallen backwards.

When I told my family I was doing transition and wasn’t coming home to Victoria, they were like “Why?! He’s disappearing again”. But I admitted to them, I really have a problem and I want to stay up here to do something about it.

That was the first time I had admitted I have a problem, and hearing that, they were very happy for me to stay up here.

Narcotics Anonymous has been awesome. Most of my closest friends are in the rooms with me. I’m not isolated anymore.

Doing the drug testing, doing the “musts” of the program, and being held accountable was really great for me. I needed it, and I was glad it was pen and paper, and “I’m doing what I’m saying I’ll do”.

I talk to my family much more often now. I mended a lot of those relationships. There were some that hadn’t been there at all but now are, some on the mend, and I have a way better relationship with my parents now.

Now, I’m about to become a dad. My partner was supposed to deliver yesterday, but that didn’t happen. It’ll be any moment now.

I’m excited and nervous. It’s going to be a little baby girl.

My partner and I met through the rooms (group meetings)– when I was halfway through transition.

We both deeply understand that experience and the importance of doing something about it.

We encourage each other lots through our step work, but don’t focus too much on our trauma. We’ve got bigger and better things to focus on now.

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