June 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

A Family Recovery Story

This family navigated their 25 years old daughter’s drug addiction and have just celebrated her being 11 months clean. This is their story.

We moved to Australia from the UK when our daughter was 2 years old and then moved interstate when she was 7.

Our daughter was a very quiet and sensitive child. She seemed to always struggle to fit in. She was an only child, so it was always just the three of us. She was very active and participated in various sports. She struggled with personal relationships and found it hard to make friends. She was very vulnerable to the people around her and seemed to be easily influenced.

“I feel I didn’t listen to her enough as a child,” Dad says. She told me she felt like she didn’t belong in the family home. As an only child, she often felt lonely. We gave her everything she needed except what she wanted, which was unconditional love, our attention and time. I can see we weren’t present.

We both had very high expectations of our daughter. We always wanted our daughter to have more options than we felt we had growing up. It was important to us ‌she was successful, and she often felt a lot of pressure from us. We can see that our love had conditions and as much as it is hard to admit, it is important to acknowledge it so our family can heal and recover.

In hindsight, we had a lot of denial. We really didn’t see her addiction as more than a phase until last year when we were at an information session at Hader Clinic Queensland with the Family Coordinator. It was explained to us that this is a disease, and she isn’t just going to grow out of this phase. Our daughter was in the grips of a serious and progressive illness. This revelation helped us so much, but the feeling of guilt intensified. How could we have not known this earlier? All the signs were there.

Around the age of 15, we saw a change in our daughter. She started a relationship with a boy around the corner. We were really open to it and met his family and he often came over. At the time, our daughter was struggling a lot with social media and bullying. Her social life was always difficult for her. This boy went to another school, and she found it hard to fit in with his friends. They were together for a while, but when the relationship ended, things went downhill for her. She had a lot of feelings of abandonment and rejection.

Our daughter got a job in hospitality. She was working with people that were older than her. The first time we are aware of her smoking marijuana was after a party she went to with her work friends. Before this, we had caught her smoking cigarettes, but we had done this as teens too. We rationalised it as just a phase.

She was sneaking around and being dishonest with us. We felt something was going on but just rationalised and justified everything. We didn’t have as open communication with Our daughter as we would have liked to. When she was 17, we took her to the doctor and psychologist. She would mostly talk about her relationships with other people.

We thought as she got older, she would make friends easier. We didn’t even consider that she may be taking drugs to cope and fit in.

I feel that our love was very conditional, and I have a lot of guilt and shame. Through our sessions at Hader Clinic Queensland and Nar-Anon meetings, we have learned that we are in recovery as a family. We no longer stand behind our daughter. We stand beside her.

Halfway through year 12, our daughter wanted to quit. We had to drag her through year 12. We gave her everything except what she needed, which was love and affection. The thing she needed the most we couldn’t buy off the shelf. We had spoilt her when what she really needed was for us to be present.

When she finished school, our daughter went to the UK to live with her Mum’s parents. The intention was that she would go over there to work and travel. However, we would have preferred for her to stay in Australia and study.

Our daughter had a lot of trouble in the UK, this is when she transitioned into heavier drugs like ecstasy and party drugs. Her behaviour was erratic, and it didn’t work out with her grandparents. She rented her own place as she wanted to stay in the UK. Some time passed and she started to contact us and saying it was too hard and she just wanted to come home. She had started working in aged care and had started college over there, so we told her to stay.

We did not know that drugs were involved. We were aware she was in a toxic relationship. She was having so many issues and she was crying out for help. We have a lot of guilt. Instead of listening, we just tried to send more money and kept believing she will grow out of this and find her way in life.

The year our daughter was 19 she came home from the UK, and we moved out of our family home to live closer to the city so she could get work. Our daughter just didn’t settle into life, it seemed she just couldn’t get work or life. Her life was so unmanageable.

We both had completely different ways of coping. One would distance themself from her, and the other would try to remain calm and be the mediator, but they would butt heads with each other.

At one stage, she hung around a girl she used to go to school with. This is when everything was so chaotic, she would go out on a Friday and disappear for a week, and she would message occasionally. She would turn up and stay home for a short while and then disappear again. We found out she was working at a strip club. But she told us ‌she was just working behind the bar.

One night she had disappeared which wasn’t unusual, but she called us to pick her up. We got there and she appeared unwell, she told us that she had tried ice, she seemed terrified.

So, we took her to the Hospital. She didn’t want to go to the hospital and felt really embarrassed. We were terrified. We didn’t know what to do; we wanted to find someone to help her because we didn’t know how to help her. It was so frightening, and we felt so inadequate as parents.

She spoke to a drug counsellor, and he came out and talked to us. He told us she said it is just a phase and she would get over it and she didn’t want to be there.

I felt angry, disappointed, hopeless, & frustrated. I felt she was ungrateful. She was difficult to be around, I just didn’t understand or want to understand. I now have learnt it isn’t a simple fact of switching this addiction off, it’s a matter of willpower. I felt she had a choice, and that was using.

For the next four years, our daughter was coming in and out of our lives, there was even a period when she went missing for close to a week. We couldn’t find her or get hold of her. Some people contacted us on Facebook, saying they didn’t know where she was. We reported her missing to the police. We were desperate and so afraid, just waiting for the knock on the door to tell us our little girl was dead.

Her friends told us she was last seen with an older man in a pub, we feared the worst. The police eventually found her. They brought her home, and she was so angry at us for involving the police. Even though we knew she had taken heavy drugs, we still had not acknowledged the seriousness of our daughter’s illness. It made no sense to us why she continued to live this way.

When she would come home, there would be periods where things would be fine, then she would disappear again. She started making regular trips interstate for a weekend or a week and when she came home, we would find bundles of cash and she would tell us that she was working as a model.

One night she was leaving, and we begged her not to go to. She went anyway, at this point we felt like she was lost and that we no longer had any control over her. We were in so much denial and I didn’t ask too many questions because we didn’t want to know the truth.

One night we came home, and she was passed out in her room. There were drugs all over the floor. We wanted to call the police, but we couldn’t stand the thought of her getting arrested. I just bundled all the drugs and paraphernalia up and put them in her room. I didn’t say a word to her the next day, it was too hard to face.

We were the biggest enablers, and we would always give her a safe place to land.

Eventually, a psychologist referred her to a psychiatrist, and our daughter was put on anti-psychotic drugs. Not even this medication could help her.

She again moved interstate, and she told us she was in a relationship and was living with them. The following year, we went to visit her. It was very confronting, she looked awful, very gaunt, and sick.

She would travel between states regularly and was living a ‌haphazard life. She was clearly heavily involved in the drug scene and living with someone who was extremely controlling.

She eventually decided to move back home. No matter what, she always had a place to call home. So, we drove interstate to collect all her belongings. She had attempted to get clean. We completely enabled her drug lifestyle. We were always cleaning up after her and robbing her of her rock bottom.

In August 2020, we came home from work. There was music blaring, and she was home with a guy. She was clearly on drugs. We took the house keys off her and told her to leave. After this incident, she was staying in contact but was not coming home. She had left a bag at our house. When we looked through it there were drugs, credit cards, and paraphernalia. One day there were three detectives standing out our front door and they had a search warrant. They searched her room; we couldn’t believe that we were now in this situation.

We called our daughter and told her ‌we had enough. We can’t help anymore, we cancelled her phone and told her we would plan for her to collect her stuff, but she was no longer welcome in the family home.

All of her belongings were put in storage when we moved, and we didn’t let her know where we lived. Our daughter was homeless and moved interstate again in December 2020, we would hear from her occasionally.

In January 2021 we were contacted and told our daughter had stolen a car and was driving back home. But as we had made it very clear that if drugs were involved, we did not want to be part of her life. She could not return home. We know now she was hotel hopping and living with different men for a while.

A counsellor reached out to us and said if our daughter went into recovery would we have her back in our lives? Of course, we wanted to have our daughter in our lives, but she had made so many failed attempts in the past. We would meet with her in public places. Our daughter looked so sick. We acknowledged she was very unwell, but our denial kept us from the reality that she was unable to change this herself. We met up with her weekly for a while.

Our daughter was facing serious charges because of the people she was hanging around and the decisions she kept making.

In July 2021 our daughter contacted us once more and told us she was going into a 28-day detox at the Hader Clinic Queensland. We immediately said we will come and get her to take her there. She didn’t come home straight away and stayed with her boyfriend, as she was still using, and he was very controlling of what she could and couldn’t do.

Eventually, we went and picked her up, and bought her back to our house, she got her stuff ready and then her boyfriend demanded to come with us to the detox and see where it was. Our daughter had updated us to be the primary contact, and this angered him.

He hassled us continuously and hassled the Hader Clinic during her first 28 days. He was extremely controlling. Every day, he would call us.

We met up with the Family Coordinator before we got to have a family visit, which was the start of our own recovery journey. This is when we learned that this was a disease and that our daughter was very sick. The Family Coordinator said to us “if your daughter had cancer how would you treat her?” It felt like a huge awakening moment. Everything started to make sense. It made us understand ‌we had been in denial for a long time and that she could not stop even with the greatest desire to do so. The entire process was explained to us and it was a relief, finally, our daughter was with people that could help her.

During our first weekend visit, our daughter asked if we would help her financially and support her to stay and complete the full 90-day program.

It then became very clear that we needed to embark on our own journey. We were encouraged to attend family education sessions and we now attend weekly family Nar-Anon meetings.

Hader Clinic Queensland taught us the tools to connect and listen to our daughter. We are now learning how to communicate with our daughter. With all the anger and frustration melting away, we could finally be honest and put the whip down.

We have learned how to live in the present moment. Our daughter has been clean now for over 11 months after successfully completing the 90-day residential rehabilitation program and moving out of the Transitional Housing Program after 6 months. There is a long way to go, but now we as a family are finally on the same path and heading for the same destination.

The Hader program has given our daughter the knowledge and tools she needs to live a healthy and clean lifestyle and if she continues to use these, she can become the beautiful girl we once knew and loved.

We would just like to thank Hader Clinic Queensland and all its beautiful caring and wonderful staff; we have our daughter back in our lives and all three of us have so many tools now to work with living with an addict.

“Remember we are Powerless over our addict, but work the program and keep coming back”.

 

Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

 

A Mother’s Journey with Her Son’s Addiction

“Being a mother brings great joy and great sadness when it doesn’t go the way you planned”.

Katherine’s son, Tom, was a polydrug user, addicted to Marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines, and Nangs (Nitrous oxide). This is Katherine’s story of recovery.

My son, Tom was a happy boy growing up he had a lot of friends. Our family is a very close and supportive one. His father is a Doctor and Tom had a very supportive and stable life growing up.

Things changed around the age of 14, Tom started to become disconnected from school and his family, he was less interested in learning and more interested in being “cool”. He started drinking and smoking cigarettes, then started smoking marijuana.

Watching my happy and intelligent son change was heartbreaking. Tom was attending a good school and had great opportunities. However, he was very rebellious against authority and was angry at what he perceived as an unjust world.

When Tom was in year 11, we went to America for 6 months and Tom was doing his schooling via correspondence at a school there. It was meant to be a great time for us as a family and an amazing life experience.

Tom was caught smoking marijuana and as the school had a no-tolerance policy for drugs, they suspended him for 6 months. He was then home with me for around 5 months, he was very negative and difficult to be around at times. This was the first time Tom’s drug use had consequences and caused family issues.

In years 11 and 12 I got an email saying his Naplan results didn’t match his school results. He was smart but just didn’t apply himself at school. His drug use was often more important, and he appeared to be interested in little else.

Even so, Tom went to university and finished his degree in psychology. I thought that his life was back on track. He was 21 and in a good relationship with a lovely girl that was a good influence on him. He had some good friends, and they had a lot of fun drinking which appeared to be normal for his age. I wasn’t worried about him and felt he was doing well.

Tom was very anti-establishment. He had always felt there was injustice in the world, and he focused on it. He was very rebellious and found it hard to be happy.

Around 23 his relationship broke down and he became extremely depressed. He didn’t want to be around people, so he got a night shift job on the Gold Coast and we did everything in our power to help him launch.

One day he came to us and said, “I need to get sober; I need to stop drinking and stop using drugs.” I was so happy he had reached out for help and wanted to assist in any way we could.

We told him to come home, and we would help him, but even at home with us and with the biggest desire to change, he couldn’t stop using. He was out of control. I feared he would end up dead or in jail. He had been arrested a few times and was often heavily intoxicated while driving.

He went to stay with my Mum, her house was a good circuit breaker for Tom, we would send him there to detox and be supported. We gave him an ultimatum. We told him to get help, or he couldn’t come home to us.

It was very difficult to be around him. He used my credit cards, he spent thousands of dollars on drugs. He would always be so remorseful, but I could see it was out of his control.

We kept propping him up all the time, giving him money, giving him a place to live and now I know now I was enabling his drug use. I had no idea what that meant before the family education sessions at the Hader Clinic.

I thought giving him money and support would help him, but we were enabling him to continue his lifestyle with very few consequences.

After some research, we found Hader Clinic Queensland, and Tom was admitted there shortly after. The first week was tough for him. We wanted him to stay for 90 days but he decided to come home after 28 days.

The day he was getting out we were ready to get him, and we had tested positive for covid. My mum had to get him and he was really upset about this, he couldn’t come and stay with us and had to go back to his flat in Kangaroo Point. He lapsed that day.

I realised then that this was not going to be a straight road. The Hader Clinic had given me so many tools from the information session and group education sessions with other family members of addicts.

This helped us in so many ways. We learned that we can’t do everything for Tom, if he was going to get clean, he needed to want it for himself. Enabling him by giving him money and fixing things for him was harmful.

After this lapse, I was really disheartened and wanted him to go back to rehab. Tom believed he could do it himself.

I could really see a change in Tom when he came home, he had a complete change in his attitude, focusing on living in the day and caring more for other people. It has been 3 months now and he is doing really well, he is regularly attending meetings and staying clean. He uses so many of the tools he was taught at the Hader Clinic, he even teaches us how to practice gratitude at dinner time. It’s so beautiful to have our son guide us in gratitude at dinner. I know that this is because he was taught the fundamentals for success in rehab.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s education has made me understand the disease of addiction in a way I never could before. I really understand that this is a sickness, that there is no pill and no cure. For him to be happy and free from addiction he needs a community and tools. It is not something I can do for him.

Going to the family groups helped me connect with other parents going through the same situation. Hearing the other families’ stories gave me hope that we could get through this.

Their stories were really emotional and humbling.

I am so happy that my son got to the Hader Clinic. It has completely changed the outcome of his life. He is fully aware and has a very good understanding of how addiction works and is attending as many meetings as he can get to which really help support him in his journey.

I know that we will face challenges ahead, but I feel that we have the tools and support to get through this.

My biggest advice for other families struggling is to get help, it is so hard to do this on your own, it is a chronic illness, and it is so important to seek support from people that know what to do.

It’s been such a privilege to work with the Hader Clinic Queensland. I have my happy son back. He is journaling every day and is teaching me so much. He is a very calm presence in our house, and we love being around him.

Thanks to the Hader Clinic I believe my son has been given a second chance in life.

 

Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

What is Ice, and What Effect Can It Have?

Out of the three main types of methamphetamines – ice, speed and base – ice has become the most widely used in Australia; 6% of Australians admit to having used ice once or multiple times and 1 in 70 Australians will use ice once or more in any given year.

It is most commonly consumed by smoking or injection. It can also be swallowed or snorted. The immediacy of the effect depends on the method of ingestion.

Ice is a synthetic stimulant drug, meaning it is entirely man-made and often contains highly toxic household chemicals. Drain cleaner, bleach and anti-freeze are common additives to ice and responsible for many of the devastating side effects it has on the body and mind.

Ice is considered highly addictive, as even a single use can lead to debilitating cravings during the come-down period (also referred to as ‘crash’).

What are the Risks?

The immediate risks of taking ice, even if it is a once-off use, can be quite dramatic; largely because it is impossible to know what exactly each batch contains and which harmful toxins the user is ingesting. Even first-time users are at risk of heart failure, stroke or seizures, depending on the dosage and potency of the drug.

Furthermore, persons high on ice are likely to engage in impulsive and risk-taking behaviours while high, putting themselves and others in harm’s way. This can mean getting into physical fights, engaging in unsafe sexual behaviours, self-harming or sharing needles when injecting ice.

When ice is used over a sustained period of time, users are at risk of experiencing devastating health problems. Ice use affects the kidneys, heart and lungs; can ruin users’ teeth (a phenomenon known as ‘meth-mouth’) and lead to permanent impairment of memory and concentration.

How does Ice affect me?

Ice is an upper, which means it speeds up the messages between the brain and the body; as well as sending the body’s production of ‘happy chemicals’ into overdrive.

Ice wreaks absolute havoc with the users’ brain chemistry. It increases the production of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenalin by up to 1000 times the normal level.

  • Dopamine controls the brains pleasure centre. Increased dopamine levels cause the euphoria associated with the ice high
  • Serotonin regulates our mood, appetite and sleep patterns. Increased serotonin levels explain the mood swings, loss of appetite and insomnia frequently caused by ice consumption
  • Noradrenalin regulates arousal, meaning persons high on ice often feel hypersexual and may exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviour due to increased noradrenalin levels.

As a result of this overproduction, persons high on ice are likely to experience:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased energy levels to the point of hyperactivity
  • Heightened states of sexual arousal
  • Increased levels of confidence
  • Illusions of great mental clarity
  • Loss of appetite

Ice can also have a huge variety of unpleasant side effects – for both first-time and regular users. Side-effects of taking ice may include:

  • Psychotic episodes (commonly referred to as ‘Ice Psychosis’)
  • Uncontrollable trembling (the shakes)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart palpitations
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea to the point of vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Blurred vision
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Depending on how it is ingested, an ice high can come on instantly or take up to fifteen minutes to take effect. The high itself can last up to twelve hours; however, it takes much longer for the last traces to leave the body and even longer for the body’s natural chemistry to normalise. First-time users will need about three days before their system is back to normal; regular use over a sustained period means a recovery period of roughly nine months until the user is completely ice-free.

What Happens During Come Down and Withdrawal?

Ice does not only increase the production of the ‘happy chemicals’, it also disables the brain’s ability to reabsorb them; so, once the users’ brains are depleted, they are in for a horrendous crash.

Depending on how much ice a person has taken and how frequently the drug is used, the comedown can start within 12 or even 24 hours of using. Symptoms most commonly include:

  • Feelings of depression
  • Inability to sleep despite feeling exhausted
  • Severe headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Extreme irritability
  • Physical pain (often described as being similar to severe flu symptoms)

The comedown period lasts until the active components of the drug have left the user’s system; which is when the withdrawal sets in. The acute withdrawal period can last up to 14 days. During withdrawal ice addicts are likely to experience:

  • Intense cravings for ice
  • Severe lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Inability to focus or think clearly
  • Vomiting
  • Physical pain
  • Restlessness
  • Broken sleep

It is important to understand that the withdrawal symptoms – the cravings for the drug and the mood swings – can continue for up to 18 months in cases of extreme habitual use. This is known as chronic withdrawal and can make the recovery process extremely challenging, which is why professional help is crucial if a user wants to kick the habit for good.

Read more about ice addiction here.

 

Nick’s Alcohol Recovery Story

Nick has been sober for 12 months today, after receiving residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story of recovery from alcohol addiction.

I grew up in a small country town in Victoria. I had a happy childhood. My family has always been close, and an amazing support system for me. Their unconditional love saved me in a lot of ways.

I always felt different. I was really energetic and unable to concentrate on anything. This caused a lot of trouble for me at school and at home. I was disruptive in class and my mum struggled to control me at home. When I was 10 years old, they diagnosed me with ADHD, and put me on medication. It helped me to calm down and focus.

When I started high school, I was one of the popular kids and found it very easy to make friends. I put on a mask by being funny and the class clown. I was also a bit of a bully which is not something I’m proud of at all. Underneath all of this was a crippling feeling of not being comfortable with myself and never feeling good enough.

I didn’t want people to see how afraid I was on the inside. The doctor advised me to take my medication in the morning and at lunchtime. I didn’t know of anyone else at my school on medication and I felt embarrassed about being different, so I wouldn’t take the medication at lunchtime. This resulted in my ADHD symptoms returning. I was impulsive, restless, and discontent.

All of my friends started drinking well before me. They drank beer, and I didn’t like the taste of it. I had my first drink around the age of 15. It gave me the confidence that I felt I was lacking. Alcohol wasn’t a problem for me straight away. I could take it or leave it.

When I finished school, I moved to Melbourne, and was living with a couple of mates who were also big drinkers, but not as heavy as me, they could control it though.

I secured a good job on the oil rigs, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off and finally 1 week on 1 week off, because I couldn’t drink when I was away on the oil rigs. I felt like I had a handle on it.

I wasn’t drinking daily or homeless. These were the things I associated with being an alcoholic. I didn’t feel like it was a problem and drinking made my ADHD symptoms better, so I could justify it. I can see now that I was self-medicating.

I had a high tolerance for alcohol. For most of my 20s, I was a binge drinker. The cycle of addiction started to cause problems in my life in my late 20s. I could see how it was negatively affecting my relationships.

Alcohol took priority, and I always lost interest in the relationship I was in. Things would be good for a while, but there was always this feeling of self-doubt, self-hate, and fear bubbling under the surface. Ultimately, my relationships would end, which led to more drinking. I was plagued with waves of depression.

One night I was so heavily intoxicated that I called my mum while I was vandalising cars by smashing their windows with my fist, my mum drove to Melbourne at 3am and stayed at my brother’s house. They lured me over there in the morning, without sleeping and I continued to drink.

My mum had been trying to help me for a while as I had already had a couple of suicide attempts (which were cries for help). She was worried about me and was trying to confront me about my drinking problem. I became abusive towards my mum and my brothers. They had organised for the police to come and when they arrived, I had an altercation with them. The police arrested me and took me to hospital.

They put me on an involuntary hold for over a week and then released me back into my family’s care. I stayed at my family’s home in the country. I stopped drinking for a few weeks, but I was unable to remain sober. It troubled me that I couldn’t stop drinking even though my family desperately wanted me to.

It made me feel like such an awful person. I couldn’t understand in the face of all the harm I had caused my family; why couldn’t I just stop drinking? I felt like a complete failure and the shame, guilt, and self-loathing were worse than ever before.

In the next few years, I had multiple near-death experiences driving cars and was charged with drink driving multiple times. The cycle of addiction was affecting every area of my life.

Drinking led me to use party drugs like ecstasy, speed, and cocaine but I was never addicted. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it would. Even with the serious consequences I was facing, I still couldn’t accept the fact that drinking could be the cause of all of this. I felt my mental health was more to blame.

I was part of a football club and drinking and partying were a huge part of the culture. I felt like everyone else was doing it, so why couldn’t I? I was completely unaware that alcohol affected me differently.

I met the mother of my children when I was 32 years old. Within 5 months we were pregnant with our first child. I was the happiest I had been in a long time; we owned a couple houses and things were great. My drinking continued but didn’t disturb me as much.

So not too long after our first child we were pregnant again, I was over the moon, I had a beautiful family of 4. We were very happy, I had two adorable boys and a very caring and loving partner. Life was good.

Soon after I fell back into a deep depression and it all started to unwind and things turned bad, my drinking had taken over. I couldn’t be the loving partner or father.

The same feelings as other relationships had crept in, I hadn’t lost interest, I still loved my ex-partner, but I couldn’t show it or be a father because of my drinking.

It was the worst feeling of my life as I had everything, but I just couldn’t see it or do the right thing.

At this stage, I stopped trying to fight my drinking. I had come to terms with it. No matter what, drinking came first. I felt if people didn’t accept this about me; I was better off without them in my life.

We had moved into our other property due to me losing my job and having to sell one of the houses. My disease had progressed, and I was drinking daily at this stage. I had no patience with my kids, and I had no energy unless I had a few drinks under my belt.

I just couldn’t handle the partner and father I was. It filled me with shame, and I truly wanted to just end it all. There were more suicide attempts. I ended up in a private mental hospital multiple times because of the attempts to take my own life. I decided it would be better for everyone if I just left. My eldest was only 3 years old when I left.

During my stay at the private mental hospital, they gave me ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) where they put you to sleep and put an electric current through your brain, this affects the brain’s activity and aims to relieve severe depressive and psychotic symptoms. My family was against it, but I wanted to try anything to stop the emotional pain. Looking back, all I had to do was stop drinking.

Denial is a big part of addiction. I still couldn’t admit that the drinking was the problem. The alcohol addiction had really isolated me from everyone I loved; I put my children and ex-partner through so much pain I couldn’t imagine them wanting anything to do with me.

This all continued to progress until I found myself completely alone. I had no one to talk to and nothing but the alcohol. I made another attempt to end my life. This time I woke up 3 days later, after being on life support. My family surrounded me. The way they looked at me was unforgettable. The nurse told me after they left that the doctors didn’t know if I was going to make it for a couple of days.

When my family left, I cried because I really didn’t want to be alive. I couldn’t bear the thought of living this way any longer. I was in the hospital for 5 or 6 nights. While I was there, my family had researched alcohol addiction treatment options for me and gave me contact information for rehab at Hader Clinic in Queensland.  We called them and signed up for the 90-day program. Before my stay at Hader Clinic Queensland, I had gone through alcohol detox at home. My family had me under round-the-clock supervision.

When I arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland, the alcohol addiction and depression had beaten me into submission, and I was finally willing to give anything a go. My brother had travelled to Queensland with me, and when he left, the reality of it all sunk in. I was terrified and felt so alone.

The first month was extremely difficult because as the fog slowly lifted, the destruction drinking had caused in my life became the only thing I could think about. The cycle of addiction had isolated me from everyone that loved me. I had lost my children, my job, and my house. There was nothing left, it was very sad, lonely, and scary.

About halfway through the 90-day program, it was like a recovery switch had been turned on. The other recovering addicts and the support workers helped me so much. I could talk about what I had been through without fear of judgment. I felt the support workers and my peers truly wanted the best for me and to see me get well.

It has been nearly 12 months since I completed the alcohol addiction treatment in May 2021. I have moved in with my family in Victoria. Happiness is having my family and close friend’s love and support. Seeing them all the time helps me to stay the positive and happy person I am today. It’s a long process but it’s worth it.

Being involved in the football club again has helped me a lot, yes they drink but they drink responsibly, something I couldn’t do in the past. The atmosphere and culture around the club is amazing for not only football but also life skills, responsibilities, and caring nature.

AA meetings both online and face to face are a big part of my life now and will continue to be.

I am so grateful to be alive and to have my children back in my life. To be the father I always wanted to be. Today I am proud to be myself and I know that by living sober, I am an excellent role model for my boys.  Recovery will be my primary focus for the rest of my life because everything good in my life starts from that. From being a good son, a good brother, a good father, and a good mate. I am finally comfortable in who I am.

I hope my story can help people suffering from alcohol addiction. Recovery is amazing and there is so much happiness in life.

Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life. The tools they taught me there still work in my life today. I am finally happy and free.

 

Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

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