March 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

What Happens After Rehab?

One would think the hard part is over once you have taken the leap to check yourself into rehab, worked through detox and withdrawal, and completed 30-90 days of residential treatment.

However, the recovery process is usually far from finished when a recovering addict is sent out into the real world.

Residential treatment provides around the clock support, which is essential to making it through the early stages of recovery; it keeps all outside influences, temptations, and problems at bay so you can focus on your own well-being without interruptions. Once you leave the residential facility – though support systems are still available to you – you are going to have to navigate your new reality on your own; so, it pays to have an action plan to make re-entry a little easier.

Transitional Housing Program

After completing the 90-day residential rehabilitation treatment program recovering addicts may be eligible to undergo the second phase of residential treatment; the transitional housing program. The transitional housing program is designed to help transition and integrate you back into the “real world” without feeling as though you are being thrown straight back into life.

We see a greater success rate in long term addiction recovery when clients complete the transitional housing program.

Aftercare Program

After completing rehab or the transitional housing program clients are able to undertake our aftercare and relapse prevention program.

The aftercare program is designed to help recovering addicts continue the process of reintegration with their lives outside of rehab, providing ongoing monitoring and support. Clients completing the aftercare and relapse prevention program reduce the risk of relapse compared to going straight back into society following their addiction treatment.

Online Aftercare Program

Alternatively, we offer our residents our online aftercare program, which provides invaluable resources at times of need through the HaderCare mobile application.

The app-based support program consists of addiction rehabilitation information, resources and activities plus weekly meditation videos, and real-time individual counselling sessions via video integration allowing you to continue your recovery when at home.

Be Trigger-Savvy

Getting clean and sober is hard – staying clean and sober is harder. Once you get back home, you can expect your cravings to go through a renewed peak; because you are likely going to be surrounded by triggers.

In order to make it through the first few months in ‘the wild’, you have to be aware of potential triggers and put strategies in place to cope with them as best as you can.

Triggers can include (but are not limited to):

  • Friends you used to drink/use drugs with
  • Places you used to drink/use drugs at
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Feelings of depression and despair
  • Avoiding triggers entirely is practically impossible; however, as long as you are aware of them, you are going to be able to work around them.

Be Ruthless

Now is not the time to be polite. If old friends show up uninvited and invite you to join them for a few drinks, a little smoke or just a straight-up bender, you are absolutely allowed to slam the door in their faces…if you even open the door. If old friends/acquaintances are not supportive of your recovery, respectful of your sobriety or encouraging in your quest for long-term healing, they have to go.

If you are invited to attend a social event in a part of town that might be triggering – the city, the party district, your old local pub – you are well within your rights to refuse. If a location makes you uncomfortable, you do not have to go. If your friends are offended by this, don’t pick up the phone next time they call. You have enough on your plate without trying to please them.

If your home itself is a trigger location – after all, many addicts use at home – you may need to consider moving. Obviously, not everyone has the luxury of just packing up and moving house, but it might be worthwhile to explore some options, such as staying with parents/friends/siblings for a while or doing a stint of house-sitting in a different part of town. This may seem drastic, but if the sight of your old living room brings on heavy cravings, it might be necessary, even just in the short term.

Go to your Meetings

Once you graduate from residential treatment the best way to keep your recovery momentum is to attend as many support group sessions as you feasibly can. Some recovering addicts attend daily meetings for months and even years in order to stay strong. It is a great way to stay in touch with your peer group, exchange coping strategies for everyday challenges and generally remember that you are not alone in this.

Many rehabilitation programs offer regular individual counselling sessions for as long as you feel you need them, which is a great way to supplement the group meetings and stay on track for long-term recovery. Loneliness and isolation are both powerful triggers that can lead to relapse; so keeping in touch and staying social with the right kind of crowd is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Self-Care

Now is the time to focus on getting yourself well in every possible way. Re-vamp your diet, schedule daily exercise, explore meditation and mindfulness practise (or continue on with practises you were taught in residential treatment), regularly check in with sober friends and recovery buddies and allow yourself to take pleasure in little things every day.

Note: this doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up every time you don’t feel like going for a walk, eat a bag of chips or can’t bring yourself to do half an hour of breathing. Self-compassion is just as important as self-discipline when it comes to recovery.

Be Relapse Aware

Around half of all addicts in recovery will experience at least one relapse during their journey to long-term sobriety. While this is not ideal, it also does not spell the end of your recovery, it is simply another setback you have to overcome.

If your relapse is an isolated incident, simply pick up the phone once you’ve sobered up and call your counsellor, sponsor, recovery buddy, your mother, your best friend…anyone who is going to listen to you and offer support to get you through this rough patch. There is no need for shame, you are not the first person to have relapsed and you’re certainly not going to be the last.

Stick With It

Yes, recovery is hard. Yes, recovery can feel like a never-ending process. Yes, recovery can absolutely suck some days. But you need to stick with it. Every day you stay sober is a good day, even if it doesn’t feel great at the time. The fact that you entered rehab is proof of your strength and the fact that you get up every morning now, post-rehab, to face the world as best as you can mean you are just getting stronger. Take it one day at a time. You are doing amazing.

Wil’s Addiction Recovery

Wil proves there is hope and recovery for people whose lives have been destroyed by their long-term drug addiction. Watch his story.

You could say that being an addict is the only thing I’ve known – because I’ve spent at least half of my twenty four years in active addiction – as well as several years in jail. You’d think that there would be no hope for someone whose addiction has led them down this path, right?

WRONG!  Thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland, I was reborn into a life free of drugs five months ago. I’m currently undertaking the Clinic’s transition housing program.

I came straight to rehab from jail, so being out in the community feels very different, but the support I’m receiving has been helping me a lot. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – to attend 180 NA meetings in 90 days. That works out to be two per day. It’s been really good in that I’ve been making new connections and friends.

My name’s Wil and I was what is known as a “poly user” – my substance of addiction was anything and everything.  I’d use whatever worked to numb the pain or transport me out of my misery to a different place.

I used opiates, benzos, alcohol, ice – you name it, I tried it.

My problems started early in childhood – in primary school. I was a naturally introverted, shy and nervous kid, who found it almost overwhelming trying to make friends and connect with other people. It was as if I never felt really very comfortable in my own skin – at home or at school.

In primary school I was bullied a lot. This left me feeling worthless and empty. I hated myself. All I saw when I looked in the mirror was “not good enough”.

In Year Seven and Eight I started smoking cigarettes. I remember feeling like I was at the bottom of the food chain.  I remember searching out male role models who weren’t victims.

I had spent my whole childhood feeling like I was a victim. I’d had enough.

I surrounded myself with people who I perceived were my opposite. I started drinking alcohol and smoking pot. I was twelve years old. Eventually I picked up ice.

Pot use went on for many years. I became violent and unpredictable. I transformed my persona into that of a predator and built up a “tough guy” persona – so I could feel comfortable and safe. I was untouchable.

If I wasn’t using, I didn’t feel like I was functioning. Without continual using I’d start feeling apprehensively uncomfortable. I’d feel hopeless and that my worth amounted to nothing. Using took me away from these feelings – and I thought that drugs were the solution to every problem that I had.  When I drank or used, I’d have these momentary windows of self confidence – by myself and in a social situation.

With drugs, I believed that I was capable of living and managing life, just like everyone else. I’d feel moments of happiness or what I thought was self-esteem, especially when I got onto ice.

Now, looking back, I can see that I was trapped.

Drugs was never about a party or socialising with friends. I used to survive my own existence.

My parents didn’t know about my drug use for a long time. There’s a fair history of alcoholism in my family, but not drug use. I was good at being able to keep it under wraps. However, eventually it caught up with me.

They didn’t really know how to handle it, except to ask me to stop. They told me that if I didn’t stop, I couldn’t live at home and that so long as I was using, that they couldn’t be in my life.

The problem was that I was in so deep by this stage – even if I’d wanted to, I had no idea how to stop. I wasn’t capable of it.

I went to see psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. They couldn’t help me. I was put on a cocktail of medications that made my head worse.  They didn’t know what my problem was – before addiction or with it.

My solution was to leave home. Without any income or employment, I turned to crime to support my using. I started dealing and I pushed anyone away that had ever tried to help me.

I managed to stay under the criminal radar until I turned 18. At this stage my ice use was out of control. It was horrific. I started doping myself up on opiates as the ice was no longer working to numb the pain.

To fill that empty hole, I started adding more and more drugs – in different combinations. I was desperately trying not to feel.

I experienced drug induced psychosis for years. I used a lot of benzodiazepines which made me forget everything I had done. This included my first armed robbery at eighteen – I spent three months in jail before I got bailed.

As soon as I was released, my use continued and so did my crimes. Again, I was sent to jail. In a way, it was almost a relief as I began to feel comfortable there. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere, that I was accepted, that there was a place for me to go. This was because I was surrounded by like-minded people who were broken, destroyed and hopeless as well.

Upon release I’d try to maintain my drug use, or cut back as a way of trying to remain functional. Naturally, it didn’t work. I’d be off my face and out of control.

I got a job when I was on bail. It lasted a month, then I was back on the run. That resulted in another twelve month jail term.

After this release, I thought I’d try and find a girlfriend to fill the void. However, she was also using, and it wasn’t long before I was back on the run, arrested, and this time jailed for two years.

When I was released, I tried the same things. I tried to get a job, I tried to maintain and not escalate my drug use, I’d try and swap one drug for another. However, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t use some substance of addiction to get by.  I wouldn’t go to sleep at night unless I knew there was a hit of something I could look forward to in the morning.

From the moment I woke up, my life was full of drugs. Whether it was a needle in my arm, or something in my mouth, it was always there.

My life of crime continued to support my habit.

Again, I went back to jail and was bailed to another rehab. That went to shit really quickly. They wanted to deal with my mental health issues before dealing with my addiction. The last thing I needed was more medication. I escaped the rehab and lasted seven days on the run.

That transgression resulted in me going back in jail for sixteen months. At this time, my mum came back into my life. She visited me in jail. I tried to push her away. She had received an inheritance that would pay for a proper rehab and also set me up after my transition program.

She persisted in visiting and as I couldn’t see a future for myself, I kept trying to push her away. I thought the only hope for my future was to have enough drugs so I could survive it.

At this stage, I felt so bad that I didn’t want to leave jail. I was exhausted, defeated and broken.

However, she wasn’t giving up. After seven days out of jail and not using, I was suicidal. I began to see that I was causing her pain, I was causing myself pain and I was causing everyone in my family pain. Surely there had to be a better way? I was now at the stage where I couldn’t live with using anymore, yet I also couldn’t live without using.

When I was still in jail, my mother started looking at rehab options. I was still using in jail and didn’t want a bar of it. There weren’t many rehabs that would take me, given my criminal history and that I was on parole.

However, she discovered The Hader Clinic Queensland and when she called them, she had a sense that this was the right place for me. During that initial phone call, the staff related to all the problems I experienced as a kid as well as the addiction. They seemed to understand the person I was.

I got paroled from jail straight into the rehab. The rehab became my parole address.

I managed to arrive at the Hader Clinic Queensland detoxed, broken, defeated and willing to give anything a try.

I was also suspicious, sceptical and unconvinced.

I walked down those stairs to a big welcome. Staff members Donna and Mark were there to meet me. There was something about them that I could relate to, especially Mark. They spoke to me on a level where I felt accepted, and welcome. It was a surreal experience.

This part where I felt I related to them? They didn’t talk to me like a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. They talked to me as a person. It helped me to understand that I had a way forward.

I began to realise that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I started going to meetings and whether I told them or not, heard my own stories in some way.

JJ (support worker) was a big part of my experience there – the way he shared his message and recovery was an inspiration to me.

The penny really dropped when I realised that people live and deal with life without using. It was amazing to see that it was possible that people who had lived like me were making a life for themselves and were genuinely happy.

Watching the way these people had recovered and seeing how tall and proud they walked made me want the same thing.

I’ve been in the Transition Program for two months. I’m using the NA framework and doing the twelve steps. I have a great sponsor and I’m currently up to step five. I’m about to move in with someone from NA who is four years’ clean.

I would be lying if I said those stepping stones from being practically institutionalised in jail have been easy. I’m catching up on many things like learning to budget, cook and clean. It’s a bit intimidating at first, but the support I have had makes it worthwhile.

At the same time, I’m looking forward to taking on all those bits of life that I’ve missed. Living life clean. I appreciate every single day.

I want to get across to anyone who’s been living in jail and thinks that there’s no hope and it’s the end of the road to think again. There are stepping stones that you can take to get your life back.

Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for giving me hope, and my life back.

How to Tell Someone You Suffer From Addiction

Admitting to anyone, including yourself, that you are suffering from addiction and need help is likely to release complex emotions including feelings of helplessness, fear, disappointment, and shame.

The prospect of sharing your illness with friends and family can be daunting but if you can work up the courage to reach out for help it will prove to be an essential step to your recovery.

Why should I tell?

Long-term addiction recovery from substance dependency is not easy. You are going to need all the help you can get, including your friends and family who will form part of your support network.

By admitting to your loved ones that you are having difficulty managing or stopping alcohol or taking drugs, you are allowing them to step up and support you as best they can.

It’s a good idea to brace yourself for their initial reaction as they may express anger and disappointment; but once the shock has subsided you will be surprised by their support and willingness to help.

Active addicts

If you are currently struggling with an active addiction – meaning you are using drugs and/or alcohol frequently and are unable to stop – there are many benefits to letting your friends and family know.

They are probably already wondering what is going on with you, no matter how hard you try to conceal your struggle. They might even be somewhat relieved to finally have an explanation for your out-of-character behaviours.

Once you have told your friends and family, you are finally free to ask them for help. Friends and family will often help you find the best addiction treatment program for you.

Recovering addicts

If you are already in recovery and have been to rehab  there might seem little point in letting anyone know you are a former substance abuser. However, disclosure is key to sustained long-term recovery.

Considering the Australian drinking culture, it is statistically impossible that you will be able to stay away from all locations where alcohol is available. At some point, you will find yourself at a social occasion and someone will offer you a drink – unless they know you are a recovering alcoholic. Once you have told people, they can support you by helping you abstain.

The same is true for all other substances. You have to be open about your struggles and your desire to remain clean in order for your friends and family to rally around you and help you minimise the risk of triggers and relapse.

When should I tell them?

Ideally, you will have this conversation shortly after you admit to yourself that you are suffering from addiction. Don’t put it off; you may lose your nerve if you do.

It is up to you how you tell them. You can call a family meeting and tell everyone who needs to know at once or you might prefer telling only one or two of your nearest and dearest at first.

That said, no matter how many of your friends and family are present when you first admit to your struggle with addiction, make sure the timing is at least moderately convenient. Late at night or just as people have to leave the house to go to work is not ideal – this is unlikely to be a ten-minute conversation.

Where should I tell them?

You will need a calm and private space for this conversation.

Ideally, you will be at someone’s home where everyone feels safe and comfortable to express their feelings – because there are likely to be a lot of feelings.

Once you have made your announcement, it is important for you to stay and listen; your friends and family are entitled to say their piece as well. Yes, this will be hard; but you will be surprised how helpful their take on the situation can be as you begin your recovery journey.

How should I tell them?

There is no one right way when it comes to telling friends and family.

It’s not a bad idea to plan ahead and rehearse what you want to say. It might even be helpful to write down the best version you can come up with so that you can refer back to it in case you get emotional or lose track.

No matter the words you choose, the most important thing is to be completely honest.

There is no point in minimising your substance abuse issues, you are doing no one any favours by sugar-coating is or leaving out the parts you are most ashamed of.

This is your chance to change your life. Admitting your struggles with alcohol and/or drugs can be terrifying; however, it is also the first step to freeing yourself from the cycle of addiction.

Lyndon’s Meth Relapse Recovery Story

After seven suicide attempts and ten stints in rehab, Lyndon undertook residential addiction treatment for his meth addiction.

This is his story.

My substance was meth. Has been since forever.

I’ve been in transition since October last year. I’m a serial relapser. But this time will be different. I’m trying to give myself the best chance at recovery this time. I don’t have another “recovery” left in me.

Growing up, my family moved around a lot, and I felt that I didn’t belong anywhere. All my friends lived further away from me, and my family didn’t have a lot of money, so I always felt two steps behind everyone else. I just felt like the odd one out.

When I was 12, something happened to me while I was at a friend’s house, and that’s when this stuff started. It sort of changed stuff inside me, and I never told anyone about what happened to me. That’s when I looked for something else to make me feel good.

I met this older guy at a party who introduced me to smoking weed. I thought that was pretty cool – I didn’t see it as a problem. I got into acid when I was 16 or 17. It was every weekend. While the others would do it Friday and Saturday, I’d want to do it Sunday too.

I’d always drink to get drunk; I never really did it to have fun. I would just be in a corner, smashing it down to get hammered. I was going nowhere.

Then I joined the army.

Dad pushed me into doing it – wanted me to make something of myself. In the army, I found that sense of belonging I was looking for.

But I was angry. I had a lot of anger in me at that point. I was always on edge. The army feeds on that. And aggression too.

I became violent. A lot of that violence was fueled by the booze, and I hurt people, I think, because of what happened to me as a kid. I’m not proud of the things I did or the person I was then.

In the army, there is a real drinking culture. I was drinking 20 of these $1 cans every day. The weekends were a blur. I ended up getting busted for smoking pot and was kicked out.

Coming back home, I didn’t know how to live on my own. I had only known living with my parents and the army. I did know how make myself feel “normal” and that was sticking a needle in my arm.

I reconnected with a mate in Brisbane, who was one of the largest supplies at the time. I truly went off the rails. Went from 120kg to 42kgs in 6 weeks. I freaked my parents out, and I ended up doing a detox program in HADS, and then rehab at Logan House. It didn’t last. I had so much anger in me, and I didn’t understand addiction as a disease, I thought it was a lifestyle choice.

For a few years I partied hard, got on the gear, weed, and booze. I had no personal relationships, just associates. I did a stint in jail, getting arrested for warrants.

I started associating with bike gangs and the shadier side of it all. I had this certain skillset I’d been trained in (in the army) and all this anger. I would use to feed the anger, to get angry and stay angry, and did things to people I’m not proud of.

My lifestyle was taking a toll on me not only physically, but mentally as well. So, I went to rehab again. This time, I did a CBT based program, which was 3 months.

I met a woman in rehab.

We ended up moving in together and I was working 100 hours a week, driving a truck. She was still dabbling in pills at that point. I think the hours took a toll on me, and I got back on the gear again to try and keep up.

Unbeknownst to me, she was blowing all our money, sending it to her kids or something. We lost our place and split up. We ended up reconnecting in Mackay and got a place together. She got sacked from her job and said to me one day that she had work in Brisbane. She left and never came back.

She bloody broke my heart. She also left me with a lot of debt.

I had nothing. I was in a town I couldn’t afford to live in; my habit was starting to build up again.

I bailed and went back to Bundaberg, where I met my soon-to-be wife. She was my nephew’s daycare mum.

She knew that I was a user previously, but she thought I was just a pot-smoker now, and she was okay with that.

We ended up getting married and it was great. She kind of showed me what it was like to feel loved again; to be able to love. I’d never felt that before, and it was all I wanted.

Everything was good.

By then though, I was using more. I was hanging around my cousin who was doing it. I put myself back in it all.

Now I’m juggling two lives, trying to hide this from her. We were married and our relationship was actually pretty good. We grew the business together; I went back to driving trucks. I was doing overnight work, using and smoking, then doing the day care with her. We had family stuff on the weekend – it was really cool.

She ended up getting diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The tumor was sitting on top of her lungs.

I just thought, the one thing in my life I’ve found that is pure, is going to be taken away from me.

How I dealt with all of that, is how I usually deal with things. Stick a needle in my arm.

I’m using hard at this point.

We moved to Burpengary to be closer to her treatment. She started intense chemo.

I don’t want to say I wasn’t present for my wife; I was there, taking her to the hospital and stuff, doing all of my duties. However, I wasn’t there.

I was just waiting to get on it again. The using stepped up when we moved to Burpengary. Having to watch your wife get pumped full of chemicals… there’s no counselling for people who have to watch their loved ones go through that.

The whole time I’m lying about the using.

We beat cancer in the end. Thank God.

Then the lies were getting too much. I was hiding stuff that I was hocking off. She confronted me. I just couldn’t handle lying to her anymore, this beautiful woman who’d been through so much. I thought she’d stick by me if I just told her what was going on.

I told her what was happening. I guess that really made her hurt; made her look like a fool. I get it. I understand that. She said you need to go get help and you can’t come back home. That’s it.

A week later, I was trying to hang myself in a tree. I went into the “nuthouse”, got off it, got on again, got into rehab at Logan again.

She saw me about 5 weeks in. She was glad I was getting help, but that was it. She was seeing a lawyer and getting a divorce.

I thought, what am I doing this for then?

I bailed. I was back a couple months later, same rehab.

I didn’t know how to live really, but I was slowly beginning to understand that this isn’t a lifestyle choice. There’s something deeper going on.

One day, I was driving through Burpengary and saw the ex-wife driving the other way. Something broke inside me, and I ended up trying to neck myself in a park near Bribie. Thank God someone called the ambos.

I was back in the “nuthouse” again and lived in a park for a couple weeks after that. I was on the gear and experiencing bad psychosis. I started seeing these faceless shapes and walked 2 hours to the overpass at Caloundra where I tried to jump off it.

I don’t know how it happened, but a mate turned up out of the blue and saved me.

I tried these different rehabs after that but ended up bailing. At this point, all I had was a bag of clothes.

I went back to Logan House. I did 9 months there and experienced a bit of a mental decline. That’s when I found out I have PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Finally, I had a label for what I was experiencing. It wasn’t just the gear sending me nuts.

I was 18 months clean before I relapsed. I was overwhelmed with life, and I didn’t know how to live without using.

I was going back in and out of different rehabs again; did two more stints in the “nuthouse”.

I was back on the gear, suicidal, and living in squalor.

A friend ended up taking me to her place, and that’s when I got in contact with the RSL.

I found out about a homeless vet program and was moved into a motel.

It was at Unity Day for NA, that I met up with JJ, and he mentioned Hader Clinic Queensland took DVA clients. That planted a seed in my head.

Trish called me, we booked in an assessment, and I was in.

I was to arrive on Monday. It was Friday, and I got on it.

I didn’t have any clean needles. I had this really old one and was trying to go in the spot I always go in. I was crying and I just couldn’t stop. I can still feel it. It was like punching a nail through a wall. I only got half of it in, and I couldn’t see properly because I was crying and kept missing, so I pulled out. There was blood all over the place. For the first time in 30 years, I flushed it down the toilet.

I kind of knew then that I was done. I’m done. I’m really messed up.

I had a tense weekend within myself, knowing what was coming up. But I made it clear to myself, just do whatever they tell you.

I got up there on the Monday. I don’t remember the first few days, I just kind of knew I was done. I still have using left it in me, I know that. But the recovery stuff, I can’t do again. I don’t think I’d make it back.

I’ve had 7 suicide attempts. 10 stints in rehabs. I needed to be broken to a point where I got that gift of desperation.

The understanding they had speaks volumes. It comes out in how they treat you – especially Mark and Wade; all of them really, but especially Mark and Wade. They’re amazing at what they do. They get it. They’ve felt what I was feeling.

I gained an understanding of what this disease is to me, and how it affects me. When Mark said that it’s a disease of my thinking, I had to get a real grasp on what that means to me. That’s been the biggest shift for me, this time around.

I’m 7 months clean today.

I’ve had a rough time this week, but I’ve worked the program for myself today. I’ve learned that I can sit with my shit, and still be okay; I don’t have to seek solace at the end of a needle. I really don’t.

I’ve got a good sponsor, I do a daily check-in. I love the accountability of this transition program.

Mum and Dad are still with me. Dad calls me mate. That means the world to me, him calling me mate. They came to Hader to visit me, and I think they got a better understanding of what this stuff means to me, and that it’s not just a case of just giving up drugs.

I like Dad calling me mate.

It’s really nice. It’s not something I had with him before. He instigates hugs today, and he’s not a hugger. But he does. He gives me a hug anyway.

My ultimate goal one day… is to have a Hader Clinic Queensland staff shirt. I don’t want to work anywhere else.

There is something about that place, and what goes on there, that is really special.

Sarah’s Meth Addiction Recovery

Sarah was a meth user, was in abusive relationships, working as a stripper and a sex worker, and homeless. Then she completed residential addiction treatment for her meth addiction. This is her story.

I was a meth user, have lost my home several times, been involved in criminal charges, been homeless, been to court, and eventually been to rehab.

Yesterday, I reached my 7 months clean milestone.

I did a 28-day program at Hader Clinic, which turned into a 90-day program, and I’m now in the transitional housing program. When I finish transition, I’m doing the outpatient program too.

For the first time in my life, I am in a safe, stable environment. This is the story of how I got here.

It all started when I was a teenager. Growing up, I felt like I walked around on eggshells a lot. My dad was quite an aggressive guy, so I had trouble with him. I started using when I was 16; just smoking weed and stuff.

Then, I moved to the UK when I was 17, and lived there for a year. That’s when I started using coke and pills. I ended up moving back to Australia because I was just having a terrible time there. I settled back in with my parents and realised that I really needed to get a job. This is when I started stripping.

I became a stripper, and I was terrible at it. I used to hide from the lady (my manager) – she would be telling me I had to go up on the stage and dance and I’d be so nervous. That’s when I met these girls. I came over to them, and they were smoking meth. I asked, “What is that?”, and they said it was crack and I just sort of thought, okay, cool. And I thought, it’s crack cocaine. I had just finished watching Breaking Bad in the UK, and I remembered Jesse smoking meth.

Pretty quickly after starting to use with them, I was in psychosis, and I found it really hard to hold down a job. I’d get a job in hospitality but couldn’t hold it. At this point, I had stopped stripping. I had had a falling out with the girls because they couldn’t deal with me anymore. I was too intense. I would make bad mistakes and I was all over the place.

After that, I thought I’d try and make an “honest” living, so I started working in this restaurant in the Valley. But really, I couldn’t keep any of these jobs. Inevitably, I’d end up smoking weed, or doing drinks after work, and then I’d turn my phone off and just disappear. I would spend my paycheck on drugs and an outfit that I’d wear the whole week.

I met this girl who was escorting, and I thought, I need to make money; I don’t know what I’m doing, I have nowhere to go. Things were bad with my parents, and they didn’t understand where I was coming from with the things that I was doing. They’d say, “why can’t you just get a job and keep it?” They didn’t really understand what I was experiencing.

So I started sex working. This girl introduced me to it, but I wanted to do it as well because I just wanted money. I didn’t really know what my intention was at the time – it was just about making money, and somehow having a life.

I moved to Sydney and was living at this house with the escort girl and this other guy. At this point, I had decided I wanted to stop using meth. So I put myself into this detox program. It went pretty bad.

I ended up moving in with my abusive partner, and I was off the drugs for a few days. I didn’t like relying on people; I wanted to pay my own way and do my own stuff. I just felt like I was depending on him, so I went back to sex work, made money, and moved out. But he and I were still together.

He had bipolar and was also aggressive. He was pretty messed up. We were on and off for a good while and I was still sex working – that kind of work was all I knew. I was just so anxious, and I couldn’t stop using.

I was doing HeadSpace at the time, and I would go to these drug and alcohol appointments. But I would turn up high. I would do everything external, but I just couldn’t put down the drugs.

My partner and I broke up. He broke my nose in the end, and he was sexually abusive as well. Things were really bad with him.

So I got a new place, and he didn’t know where I lived.

But then there was this other guy.

Before I went into recovery, I found myself bouncing from one guy to another – I was very co-dependent. I could never be on my own, even though all I wanted was to be on my own.

I didn’t want to be with him at all. I wanted to be independent – I had recently gotten out of this terrible relationship. But this guy just wouldn’t go away.

He would help me with a lot of things, and he was always there. He didn’t know I did drugs. I decided to be honest with him and just say, look, I’m struggling with coming off drugs, and he would use that against me.

I ended up once again losing my place and moving in with him. I lived with him, and I’d see my parents over Christmas. I would fly to Brisbane for Christmas and would tell myself, I’ll come off the drugs in Brisbane, then fly back to Sydney and get my life together.

It was 2020, and all my stuff was in Sydney. My parents said, we can get your stuff from Sydney, and you can stay here in Brisbane to work things out. And I thought, okay, cool. I didn’t want to go to Sydney – back to him – and work things out. My life was falling apart, and I had no control over anything; he was very controlling of me. I felt like I had to explain myself to him all the time, and he was just awful.

I’d tell him things that my abusive ex had said, like the time he had threatened to kill me, and then he would start saying it to me as well. I was using too, and things were just bad.

So I went back to Sydney to get all my stuff and came back to Brisbane, which is when all the covid stuff started to happen. I ended up relapsing in Sydney. During my stay in Brisbane, I had been off the drugs, but as soon as I was back in Sydney, I found drugs again.

It was hard being back in Sydney. I saw my old DV counsellor, said goodbye to her, and my heart would race, just being there. It still makes me sick, even just thinking about my time in Sydney.

As soon as we returned to Brisbane, I was trying to sort out counselling appointments for myself. But I ended up speaking to an old friend and asked if she was still using. She was, so I went and saw her.

Things got pretty bad then.

I had never previously had any problems with the police. Ever. I never reached that point where I was getting charges.

It was still 2020, and I started hanging out with her, using meth all the time. I met this other guy, and he was in and out of jail.

I ended up getting involved in crime. I got charged with possession and got raided by the police. Those were my first charges – I was living in a hostel at this point. The guy went to jail. My parents got raided too and had to move house. They wouldn’t tell me where they lived; they said they were done with me.

I got involved in this thing with this guy before he went to jail. I got charged with deprivation of liberty. There was this other guy and basically, he was held hostage and ended up getting stabbed. I got charged because I was involved. It was a pretty hectic charge.

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I used to think I was innocent when I was sex-working, but I know that’s not really true. Compared to the person I became in 2020, I don’t even know who that person was. I thought I was cool. I thought I was this criminal. I thought, this is my life now, I’m just a junkie.

So I was living in this hostel, and he was in jail, and I didn’t end up getting charged until about March 2021.

I was charged with category R weaponry possession charges.

That’s when that guy in Sydney came back into my life. He randomly called me, and he was helping me with money and the charges. He knew all these lawyers.

Living in that hostel, I could barely afford to feed myself, and I thought f*** it, I’ll start taking money from him.

I was thinking, everyone’s screwed me over, I deserve this. I reached an ugly state in my mind where I didn’t give a shit about anyone except myself. I was living disgustingly in that hostel. I ended up hotel hopping from that hostel – he was paying for it.

I had no criminal record with the weapon possession charges. In around April of 2021, the cops came to my mate’s door – they had found me, put me on this charge, and in October of that year I went to court for it, with the Sydney guy’s help. He was like, you need to go to rehab and do this 28-day program. He expected me to have him in my life after.

I went into the program, and my parents came back into my life. I had actually been living on the streets for a couple of weeks, homeless, and I was completely lost. I thought “I don’t deserve to live anywhere, I don’t deserve to have anything”. I didn’t want the guy from Sydney’s help, I didn’t want to be in the situation I was in, and I didn’t want to be facing the charges, but I was.

I hit this crossroad. I didn’t even feel worthy enough to sex work. I felt so worthless, so disgusting, that I couldn’t even do that.

I felt like a putrid human being.

I called my parents in July of last year when I went into rehab. I said, “look, I’m facing these charges and I’m going to go do rehab for 28 days”, and they said, “we’re on board. We’re going to help you.”

And that was really weird. They told me where they lived, and this whole door opened up, as soon as I mentioned I was going to do this rehab. Ever since then, they came back into my life.

After 28 days at Hader Clinic Queensland, I chose to stay on and do the 90-day program. Now I’m in transition.

I didn’t feel like it was enough, the 28-day program. I had never heard about NA before, and going to all these meetings, with all these people I could relate to… it was strange. It was so foreign being around people who understood me.

I’d never felt understood by other people, and the more meetings I did, I realised I wanted and needed more of this. I wanted to stay longer.

The transition house was never even a part of my plan or doing the 90 days, but the fact that I could stay longer, and build a foundation upon a foundation, was just amazing. I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do that, with my parents back in my life and supporting me.

Being an addict and using, my world felt so alone and isolated. Within the first week at Hader, I had one of the support workers knocking on my door like “C’mon! Come do boot camp!” I went along, and as I approached the group and saw everyone, I just broke down crying.

The three months I spent in rehab helped me overcome my fear of being around others; it helped me become social again. I’m with people who understand, including the staff at Hader, many of whom are previous addicts. The whole connection thing and being in a safe environment with other people who relate to you, being stable, and focusing purely on your recovery is cool.

As of yesterday, I’m 7 months clean.

It’s weird. I’ve never been in one place. I’ve always felt like I had to run away; run away from myself. I’ve never felt stable or comfortable.

This is the first time I’ve felt like I’m in a stable and comfortable environment. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable; being uncomfortable in a comfortable place. I’m not used to being in a safe environment.

In 7 months, a lot has happened. I’ve been stable, which is a change.

I’m in the transition program until March.

I’m still nervous about it all, going forward with my life. But after the transition program, I’m going to be doing the outpatient program as well. That’s really going to help me.

I’ve chosen to live with my parents and slowly work my way up to getting a job. Knowing that I’ve got the outpatient program to help me makes me feel so much better. Even doing the UDSs (urine drug screening). I love that because it gives me accountability. I don’t trust myself – I know what I’ve been like in the past, and I don’t know what’s out there that could potentially trigger something for me. It’s kind of scary, not living with the other recovering addicts. I’ll still be seeing them at check-in though, and that’s a bit of a relief.

When I was living in the UK, I started working in aged care and disability. Eventually, long-term I’d like to study and work in that area. My ultimate goal is to become a nurse. I’d love that.

I’m excited, because now, I can really start working toward that future.

 

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