February 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Kristen’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

When Kristen went to rehab, she had no intentions of giving up drinking. Her plan was to do a 90-day residential addiction treatment at the Hader Clinic Queensland, and then carry on drinking. She didn’t know any other way. It turned out Kristen can live without alcohol.

This is her story.

My name is Kristen. It’s been 4 years since I completed the 90-day residential rehab program and outpatient program for my alcohol addiction. I was in active addiction for over 25 years. I’m sober now.

I had a normal childhood. I had a Mum, Dad, nice home, and didn’t want anything else. My mother had a short temper. In those days, it was expected that children behave; if they didn’t, they were punished. My punishments usually involved high levels of violence from my mother.

My father was an alcoholic – though he was a kind, gentle man.

My parents gave me a lot of freedom when I was a teen, but not a lot of education around that freedom. I had my first son when I was very young, and I wouldn’t change it for the world now. Mum and Dad were very supportive, and now I have a beautiful grandson who’s 16. I finished school and completed an apprenticeship. I met my now ex-husband, got married, and had two more beautiful children.

My husband was very dominating and controlling – he never hit me, but he made me feel less-than, useless, stupid, and inadequate.

I couldn’t make decisions about anything…. ever!!!!

We were very social. We’d often go out or entertain at home; birthday parties, anniversaries, sporting events…. any excuse to celebrate.

Drinking enabled me to talk – I was quiet and had no self-confidence. I’ve realised since I’ve been sober that even back then, when I drank, I drank to get drunk. There were never 1 or 2 drinks – what’s the point? I always drank to get drunk. I never thought, even in the later years, that there was anything wrong with that.

We’d go to barbeques, and all the mothers would sit together with half a glass of wine that had long gone warm, and I’d be drinking with the men. I’d often think, “what’s wrong with you ladies?” not “what’s wrong with me?”  Social events to me, were an excuse to drink, and to drink was to get drunk……every time.

My husband was always the one who would take the kids home after a night out. I would usually stay and party.

I could never guarantee my behaviour when I was drinking. I wanted attention – attention from other men mostly. It was inappropriate, and all as a result of drinking.

In the beginning, it was at events I’d be drinking – I didn’t really drink at home. In my 30s, I started drinking at home – just on weekends. But then it progressed and became every day.

At around age 40, my drinking really started to escalate. My ex-husband told me he wasn’t interested in me anymore, but he didn’t believe in divorce. He firmly believed marriage was “til death do us part” – even if you’re miserable. And I believed I wouldn’t be able to make a life for myself and the kids on my own.

For the last 10 years I was drinking daily, it was just me and alcohol. I isolated and withdrew from the world. I would black-out every time I drank. By the end of my drinking career, just a couple of drinks caused me to black out. What few memories I have of this time are not good ones.

I used to sit in my room in the evenings, alone, watching TV and drinking. I’d write myself notes about what I was doing; what I cooked for dinner, what time I went to bed etc. Just so I knew what happened each night.

In 2016, I had weight loss surgery, and things really became bad then. After that surgery, my tolerance for alcohol was greatly reduced. Though, that didn’t stop me from consuming the same quantities I always had.

Most nights, my ex-husband would find me in various places around the house, passed out.

One night, I fell passed out on a chair outside, and was leaning up against the doghouse. It compressed a nerve in my upper arm; this caused my hand to become paralysed for 7-8 months. I woke up and I couldn’t move my hand at all.

I was always covered in bruises and scratches. I had no idea how I got them. I’d long stopped going out anywhere drinking. I would go to work each day, finish at lunch time. Then I’d go home and drink for the rest of the day.

In 2017, I came to Brisbane to care for my mother after she had an operation. I lost my job at home, so decided to stay with my mother indefinitely…. my drinking progressed even more. I would take my first drink the moment I woke in the morning.

My feet and legs were turning purple. I was a mess. I was underweight too – 56 kgs, skin and bone.

Eventually, I was sat down by my ex-husband who said, once again, “You’ve got to stop.”

I wasn’t happy. I wouldn’t listen to anybody – especially him of all people.

He put me into the Damascus detox unit first. I had two stints there. Both times I left, my first stop was the pub, which is right next door.

They gave me a lot of education about what alcohol was doing to my body physically, but it didn’t take away the need to drink.

It was July of 2017 when my ex-husband said I had to go to the Hader Clinic Queensland. It was a family intervention, I guess. By that time, I had no fight left in me. I thought, I can’t live without alcohol, I’ll die if I can’t drink. I also knew if I continued down the path I was on, it would kill me.

It was the best thing he ever did for me, and I’ve thanked him for it.

I didn’t know what to expect at Hader. It saved my life. There were routines and rules, and I loved that. The routine I learnt in there, is one I still use today. We exercised daily. There were group classes, discussions, meetings, weekly rostered cleaning and cooking duties, weekly social trips out to various places, art classes, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions.

Hader Clinic Queensland introduced me to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would go to meetings daily. It has saved my life. I used to think it had changed my life, but it has changed me. Taught me how to live.

At some point during rehab, things started clicking for me. I can’t remember the specific day. But going to those meetings, and just seeing people with happy smiling faces, that feeling of connection and belonging, and just realising that I wasn’t the only one, I wasn’t alone, really changed things for me. I learnt that I suffered from the disease of alcoholism. I wasn’t a bad person; I was a sick person.

I was lying in bed one night, doing my meditation. My eyes were closed, and I saw this white light. I don’t know if I was asleep and dreaming, or still awake, but I felt this sense of calm. I remember thinking, Jesus… there really must be something to all this.

When I left Hader I didn’t want or need to drink. That insanity was gone. I do remember thinking in the first few days though, this is all too hard, too much work (Alcoholics Anonymous has a few things they suggest we do to maintain our sobriety……and they aren’t hard, really). My next thought was, you know what, no one else is going to do it for you, so just get on with it. Now, what I thought was hard work, is my routine. And it is keeping me sober.

I did the Aftercare & Relapse Prevention program with the Hader Clinic Queensland. My ex-husband supported me financially. I travelled all over the place to different AA meetings.

When I was 6 months sober, I went back home to visit the kids, thinking I’d be fine. But I wasn’t.

I was in the same house; it was just the same. I had a drink. Then I came back to Brisbane.

That madness was back in my head.

I wanted to drink. Though I didn’t, I wanted to. I kept going to meetings, kept doing what I’d been doing since leaving Hader – I didn’t want to do rehab again.

I was white knuckling it.

On the 5th of June 2018, I said fuck it. I’m going to have a drink – a big drink. I can’t fight this anymore. But I’ll be civilised, and I won’t have it till 5pm. I went to an AA meeting, then caught the train home. I was trying to meditate but knew that I would be going to the bottle shop straight after doing a few other things. I heard a story during that meeting. He said, I’ve lost my home, lost my family, and all I’ve got left is myself. That just kept going round in my head. I’m the same. All I have left is myself. And if I drink today, I’ll lose that too.

By the time I’d done my errands, I realised I didn’t want that drink anymore. The thought, the urge, had gone. That voice telling me to drink was quiet. It had been about 5 weeks since that drink at home.

So, I didn’t drink that day. I cried. I sat down and cried, because I knew, if I had had a drink that day, I would have got 2 bottles of wine and a litre bottle of vodka and had a decent drink like the good old days. I would have drunk it all.

I then got myself a sponsor and continued to work the steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

This day was 5 June 2018, which just happens to be my late father’s birthday. I believe my dad and my higher power saved me that day.

Today, I’ve mended my relationships with my children and extended family. I’ve got a great job. I can live life. It’s just amazing.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning to start my day, is to sit and read the Daily Reflections. I’ve always done that. I say a prayer. They’ve changed over time, but the main one is to thank God that I’ve woken up, thank God I’m sober, and thank God for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘Please help me turn my fear into faith and show me where I can be of service to others’.

These are all things I’ve learned in the last 4 years.

After I’ve read and done my prayers, I exercise. I go to boot camp. That was another thing we did in Hader, the exercise – something I’ve always liked. They’re a great group of people. It’s called PEPT – positive existence personal training. It’s feel-good stuff. I’ve got some great friends out of that.

My partner and I enjoy going away and attending various social events. When I was drinking, I’d have a bottle of wine before I’d even left the house. In social situations now, the thought of a drink doesn’t even enter my mind. I don’t want it. I’m not looking for it. It’s just not a thing. It’s as though I was never a drinker. There’s no thought or effort on my part.

It’s amazing.

And guess what!!! I can go out and have a great time. I can go to pubs for a meal, go to an 80s night with a live band, dress up, have fun and dance. I can drive home and remember the great night.

I have an amazing partner. He loves the AA program too – he’s never been in addiction, though he has been to meetings with me. He gets so much out of them too.

He’s seen what AA has done for me; he saw me at my worst.

I’ve learned so much. It’s a real program for living.

I never thought life could be so good. My kids want to be a part of my life now. I don’t see my daughter all the time, due to distance. The last time I saw her, she was just watching me, and her jaw was pretty much on the floor. She said to me, “I’ve never seen you like this mum. You’re so happy.”

My youngest child was 25 when I got sober. My kids missed out on a lot because my drinking always came first. They have forgiven me. They are grateful I am well.

They want to be a part of my life now. They’ll stay with me. They’ll ring me. They’ll ask me for advice. They’ll leave my grandkids with me.

I’ve recently got my first “sponsee” (person I sponsor) and am enjoying taking her through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’m also looking into doing H and I (Hospitals and Institutions, a committee of AA members that carry the message of AA to alcoholics in hospitals, prisons and other institutions).

I look forward to life every day. I love waking up in the morning and living life on life’s terms.

I just love what the Hader Clinic Queensland has done for me…. a second chance at life. Thank you.

Hospital or Rehab – Which is Best for You?

Looking for the right rehab for yourself or your loved one can be a daunting experience.

Google the term “rehab” and you’ll come up with a plethora of options from counselling, medical options, hospitals, retreats in exotic locations through to “tough love” bootcamps.

The big question is, how do you know what rehab is best for you?

For most people, the most important thing when choosing a rehab program is ensuring that the rehab facility offers an evidence-based program that supports demonstrated long term successful outcomes. This, of course, hinges on the client/patient being fully engaged with the process.

Depending on the substance of addiction, a medical detox may also be required.

Hader Clinic Queensland, which is fully accredited by ACHS, offers two distinct pathways for recovery. They are a private hospital program at Hader Clinic Queensland Private, which includes a medically supervised detox, and a residential rehabilitation program at Hader Clinic Queensland.

Benefits of Hader Clinic Queensland Private’s Hospital Program:

  • Patients undergo medically supervised detox (often required for extensive polydrug use and complex mental health presentations)
  • Treatment is overseen by a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals
  • Covered by private health insurance
  • Includes parts of the Hader Clinic Queensland’s psychosocial program, which is an introduction to long term rehab
  • Can continue onto residential rehab program at a greatly reduced cost (save 40% on residential rehab when completing a hospital program and using private health insurance)
  • 28-night stay

Benefits of Hader Clinic Queensland’s Residential Rehab:

  • An “all in” program where you are committing to doing the work for your recovery
  • 30, 60, 90-day options
  • Greater psychosocial component which is better for long term change
  • Focuses on behaviour change and addresses underlying psychological aspects of addiction
  • Based around a therapeutic community
  • Access to psychiatrist
  • Includes attendance at NA/AA meetings which is encouraged to continue after rehab
  • Ability to do Transitional Housing Program after completion of the 90-day program

Finally, the other big question around rehab is, how much does it cost?

This is where holding private health insurance can make a big difference in costs.

Being private, both our hospital and residential rehab programs come with associated costs. However, private health insurance can be used to cover a large portion of the costs for the hospital program. Depending on your situation, this may be more suitable financially, as the residential rehab is not covered by private health insurance. Additionally, combining a hospital and residential rehab program may be more cost-efficient as well.

To discuss costs and which program will work best for your situation, call the clinic on 1300 856 847.


Renee’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

A successful psychologist, Renee never thought she’d be the one needing help. After an unsuccessful rehab stint overseas, Renee attended the Hader Clinic Queensland for alcohol addiction treatment. This is her story.

It wasn’t until I was 37 that I had my first drink.

Growing up, I had a very normal childhood and upbringing. I was raised in a Christian family, and particularly in the church back then, alcohol was very taboo. It was frowned upon, and people just didn’t do it.

In my family, we were never allowed it. There was never a drop of alcohol anywhere in the house. Or when we went out. If you were to drink, that would be a big deal. I was never exposed to it as a teen or even as a young adult.

I got married at 18 because back then, you were encouraged to get married rather than have sex outside of marriage. It didn’t really matter if it was the wrong person. I was married for 18 years.

My husband left me when I was 37, and that’s when I first started drinking.

I realised at the time, that it numbed the pain. It gave me some relief from the feeling. That was my introduction to what I thought was the benefit of drinking.

After that, I realised that I didn’t even like the taste, but I liked the effect. So, at the end of the day, I would have a glass of wine, just to settle me before bed. It became a regular thing, that one glass. Then that built up to two, and then three, and then a bottle, and then two bottles.

I always knew it was a problem. And I was very proud that I could get away with it. I didn’t really think I was an alcoholic, just high functioning.

I’m a psychologist, and it wouldn’t affect my work. I would work every day. I knew my limits for me to maintain my work schedule during the week. I would go harder on the weekends because I knew I could. I thought I wasn’t like anyone else. I thought I’m not harming anyone, it’s not doing any damage, so why can’t I do this?

However, my husband (I got remarried), who has been wonderful through all this, would regularly say to me that he felt lonely at night. He said it was like I wasn’t there; like I was checking out. He felt lonely in that period. I wasn’t nasty or rude, but I was absent.

Out in public, you couldn’t pick it. When I was out with friends, I wouldn’t drink. I didn’t drink for the taste and one drink wouldn’t do anything for me, so I’d rather not. Then I’d go home, go to the bedroom, and down a bottle.

In 2018, I went to rehab in Thailand. It was great. I went for a month. It was very luxurious – like a resort, and quite cheap. They had lots of psychologists, the accommodation was luxurious, and there were celebrities there. But it ended up failing, and I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, which gave me results.

I did enjoy rehab in Thailand, but after returning, I was sober for about 6 months. One thing I didn’t do when I left rehab was attend any AA meetings. It was wonderful while I was there, but after I came back, I didn’t give it anything.

Hader Clinic has been life-changing.

One thing I didn’t ever want to do because of my profession, was go to AA meetings. With our AHPRA registration, if people find out you’re an alcoholic, it has the potential to affect your registration. It was a big barrier for me in getting help. In fact, for anyone in the medical profession, it’s a big barrier. You’ve got to really trust the people in the rooms, and I didn’t really trust the people, especially here at the Sunny Coast where I’m known (I practice psychology here).

My husband dropped me off at Hader Clinic, and I couldn’t believe it; the first day, that afternoon, they said we were going to an AA meeting. The meeting location was in the area where I lived.

I couldn’t believe it.

I was really shocked that first night. I was close to going back home, after hearing I’d have to attend a meeting. It had really annoyed me and scared me.

But one thing Hader Clinic Queensland did well was the meetings. Every day we had to go to a meeting, and the more I went, the more I got used to it, and I didn’t feel so paranoid about what it would be like. It was different to what I thought it would be.

Over in Thailand, we only did it once a week. I think it was the biggest point of difference between the two rehabs.

That first meeting was scary. I was just scanning the room for anyone who might possibly know me, thinking, who do I know, who do I know? Being a psychologist, I was looking around to see if there was anyone there I had worked with. I couldn’t really relax or enjoy it because I was too busy scanning the room.

It took me a few sessions to calm down. But what worked was the next night when we went to Cotton Tree for the women’s NA.

I walked in and I did know someone in the room.

I looked at this woman, and it was my worst fear – seeing someone that knew me in a professional capacity. She came up to me after the meeting and gave me a big hug, and just said, “Welcome. It’s so good to see you.”

I was quite overwhelmed with how she just accepted me, and that there was no judgement.

After that, I was fine and realised my fear was all in my head.

I think the strength of Hader Clinic is the support staff. They were great. JJ was awesome, and Mark, and Donna.

The staff were just amazing. And the psychologist I had too, she was good to work with.

The staff, meetings, and family components were the standout things for me.

I’ve got adult children, some with partners. So when I was in rehab, they all did the family therapy program. It became this whole investment; the family became a big part of it.

My family were really invested, so it put pressure on me in a good way to step up. When they’re all invested, it makes me want to do my best. It’s another layer, realising that my drinking has an impact on the family as well.

We’ve had rules since I’ve been out. They all drink around me, but they must take the alcohol with them; it’s not to remain at the house.

Another thing that’s really helped me is that my husband’s never had any alcohol around me. If we go out, he won’t drink. At home, he won’t drink. Wherever I am, he won’t drink, and it’s been helpful.

Having family be a part of rehab is huge. I feel differently now. I don’t feel like a failure anymore. I feel like I modelled something to my family. I showed them what it’s like to go and get help. I also modelled to them that it doesn’t matter how addiction presents, it’s not okay, and this is what you should do.

I feel as if I’ve created a bit of a legacy in the family. Potentially something that was quite shameful, shame-filled, and negative, became a real positive for me.

I’m nine months sober now. I never thought making it through Christmas and New Year would be possible, but I did. The kids tell me how proud they are of me.

Thank you to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me get where I am today.


2022, The Year of You

Prioritising your mental and physical health are so important in the age of COVID.

How is 2022 looking for you?

Way back in 2020, when we first discussed the effects of COVID-19 and lockdowns on addiction, mental health and illicit drug supply issues, we could not have imagined that we would still be dealing with COVID-19 front and centre in 2022.

As the pandemic has progressed, we have begun to witness the long-term effects on society, including witnessing an uptick in the incidence of mental health and addiction disorders.

“Addiction and mental health issues are intricately tied to each other in a number of ways,” explains Mel Symon, Director of Hader Clinic Queensland. “The interplay between both is unique for every individual, but underpinning most addictive behaviours is a lack of coping skills.”

Rather than manage the ongoing lockdowns, fears of getting COVID-19, job losses and the generalised heightened anxiety that has come our way in a healthy manner, many of us indulge in addictive substances. This is, at its very core, based on a desire to change your mood and relieve yourself of uncomfortable emotions.

Drinking or drug-using appears like a simple solution initially – after all, we’ve been played by many in mainstream media that having a drink with friends is social, relaxing and will take all your cares away in that moment.

However, for someone that is caught down the rabbit hole of addiction, this momentary emotional relief that a substance initially provides becomes a millstone around their neck – not only does one typically need to ingest more of the offending substance to have an effect, but the knock-on feelings of guilt, shame and desperation eventually make life unmanageable.

At the beginning of a new year, many of us, including those who suffer from addiction, make resolutions to change.

We might think to ourselves in regards to the substance of addiction, “I’m done and I’m disgusted with myself. I need to be a better person – I’m never touching X again”. And invariably, when a relapse occurs, the person may think, “I’m a bad person and I deserve to be unhappy”.

This can lead to the person punishing themselves by isolating from friends and family, self-harming, and taking a “devil may care approach” to their addiction – because they’re too worn out to try and care anymore.

However, you can choose a different path in 2022 and it all comes down to behaviour change. In order to change, there must be a part of ourselves that begins to believe that we are worthy of self-love, compassion and kindness – and that self-punishment for our mishaps isn’t an effective strategy for long term change.

As a start, challenging our overly critical selves can help us see better long-term results in recovery and in life.

Hader Clinic Queensland embraces the 12 Step philosophy which states that we are to take one day at a time. In other words, we aren’t committing to being abstinent forever – just for today – because, after all, nobody is perfect.

We focus on the here and now – just today. When we make a mistake, we take accountability for it and take the next step forward.

Changing your behaviours in the long-term means accepting that there is a problem with how you’re behaving currently – and being open to change with a sense of curiosity, compassion and perspective.

Ask yourself honestly, what is going to be different this year? It is impossible to know unless you change your perspective. Most New Year’s resolutions fail because the parameters we define for them are too large for most human brains to wrap their heads around. A year is a long time!

However, scaling our changes downwards to create meaningful change in a smaller time window is key.

Start first with, “what is going to be different today?”

If that is too overwhelming, try “what is going to be different in the next hour?”

The old adage, “yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift,” rings true for every person, whether they suffer from addiction or not.

We are given the gift of hope with every new day that arises. Yes, we as a society, are in it for the long haul with COVID-19, yes, it has been a test! The best part is that, yes, we can change our behaviours around addiction within the next hour, day, week, month and so forth. Small steps lead to big journeys. Having support to lighten the load when the going gets tough is also key. That’s why we teach you how to make these changes in a way that works for you at Hader Clinic Queensland.

There is ALWAYS hope! Happy New Year!

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