August 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Rebecca’s Ice Addiction Recovery

Rebecca is 31 years old and two years clean from ice addiction after completing a 60-day residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.

I had a good childhood; I grew up in a small country town. I wasn’t exposed to drugs or alcohol. My parents didn’t drink or smoke. I was raised well. My mum was really strict, she had really high expectations of me. I always felt like I had to be perfect like I was an extension of her. We never saw eye to eye. We fought constantly. I had a good relationship with my dad and older brother.

The trouble started when I was 15. My friend was dating an older guy who was a known drug user. He introduced me to his friend who was 18 and we started going out. I thought he just smoked pot, which didn’t really interest me. I was very naive about drugs as I had never been around them before. I knew he was a drug dealer, I thought he was cool and liked being around that scent.

When I was in year 11 I had enough of living with my mum, she was strict and controlling and we constantly fought. One day when mum was at work I packed everything up and moved into a drop-in house with my boyfriend. There were always people coming in and out. Living there I became very desensitised to drug use. They injected ice every day. I just thought that is how everyone took drugs.

We weren’t in a good relationship. He was horrible to me. Very controlling and abusive. He showed no interest in me at all really. He would tell me to leave and say horrible things to me. I would beg him to let me stay. I was happy to accept the way he treated me, I just wanted to be part of this cool group of people. We dated for a year before I tried ice for the first time. I was 16. He had never offered me drugs before – there was no lead-up, no gateway drugs and he gave me ice intravenously. I didn’t use drugs every day, he wouldn’t give them to me. I started using ice on the weekends and before parties. I couldn’t inject by myself, so he had all of the control.

I finished school and we moved to a bigger town. I was working and could afford to use ice more frequently. I broke up with my boyfriend when I was 19. We broke up because I got a job in the mines. I moved to the coast and stayed there when I wasn’t working. I felt I had control of the drug use. I didn’t believe I had a problem because I had a good house and a job. But whenever I was off work I would use drugs all day every day. I was leading a double life. I felt less than at work and better than with my drug-using friends.

This lifestyle was very isolating. No one knew or suspected I was a drug addict. When I was 20, I got back together with my ex. I was based near my old hometown. I would get every Wednesday off and I would drive to see him and we would use together. On my time off we would go to my house on the coast and use the whole time.

My drug use had escalated, I used to have to rely on him to inject me. But out of desperation to use ice I learned how to do it by myself.

For 7 years I had very little contact with my family. I left my job in the mines so that I could use more drugs. I was making good money, but I could only use for 7 days of the month, that wasn’t enough for me. I remember when I was leaving that job thinking I was going to regret this decision, but I felt completely powerless. I had a lot of savings and took time off. I was using ice every single day. I was so thin, and I was still in this extremely violent relationship. My mental health was terrible, the police would be called to our property daily. We had DVOs on each other. I was extremely paranoid and would see and hear things.

My money started running out, so I went and got another job. While I was working there, I was still using every day. The relationship I was in got even worse. The violence was escalating. He would hit me nearly every day. I had to take a lot of time off work due to bruises on my face. I kept using more and more because my reality was so bad and I wanted to block it out. Between the ages of 22 to 25, I have very little recollection. I was self-medicating the trauma the ice use was creating.

I finally had enough. I arranged a share house in the city and in the middle of the night, I packed my stuff and left my ex. I have never heard from him again. The pain had become greater than the fear of changing. I got clean for a little while mostly because I didn’t know anyone to score drugs from.

I was clean for close to a year until I figured out I could just buy drugs from Craigslist. I met someone and bought a huge amount of ice and started dealing. I built up a customer base and was selling big quantities. I felt powerful like no one could ever control me again. I had free drugs. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had found a way to use drugs manageably. This was short-lived and I started to get in trouble with the law.

When I was 27, I met my current partner. He would buy drugs from me. Our relationship was different then my last. I kept him at a distance. When he moved in with me, I told him that he was renting a room from me. I wanted to have power and never be controlled by someone again.

The next few years were filled with daily ice use and getting in trouble with the law. I got fired from my job and became a full-time drug dealer to support my drug use. I was facing serious drug trafficking and commercial possession charges. I got a lawyer but I was in complete denial that I would have any serious consequences. I thought that because I looked normal from the outside nothing would happen to me. When my lawyer told me I was facing a definite prison sentence, I was in complete shock. I was terrified and so far away from the person I thought I was.

My lawyer told me to go to rehab. I only stayed there for a week and was on bail. I left and went on the run, thinking I could just pretend I was in rehab. I used more ice than I ever had before. It was really impacting my mental health. My boyfriend went into ice-induced psychosis and ended up in a lot of trouble. This terrified me. I realised that if we didn’t do something we were going to either die, go to jail, or go permanently insane. He went to rehab and I continued to use. He made me promise to come as well, he was telling me about what he was learning at Hader Clinic Queensland. I hoped for the first time that there might be a way out.

I went to Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation for 30 days and when the time was up, I didn’t feel ready to leave so I stayed another 30 days. I learned so many tools that help me in my recovery. I was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and literature. The powerful stories of recovery helped me have hope that I too could recover.

When we got out of rehab all the tools were a great foundation. I remember the staff were always saying “Do the next right thing” and this became the motto I lived by.

Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland I have now been free from ice addiction for over 2 years. My life has changed so much in this time.

 

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

Neil’s Story of Alcohol Addiction and Recovery

Neil is a 70-year-old retired Senior Sergeant. He has been sober for 11 months after struggling with alcohol addiction for the last 11 years. Neil completed Hader Clinic Queensland Private’s 28-night detox and 30 days at the residential rehabilitation.

This is Neil’s story.

I grew up in Newcastle in the 50’s and the 60’s. My life was without complication being brought up in a working-class family. A carefree childhood running with other kids in the street, riding bikes and later surfboards.

I left school and gained a position in the bank as a teller, later working in the steel works, surfing, and finding out what life was all about. I had a very supportive mum and dad, however, life was not quite fulfilling, so at 26 I joined the Federal Police which gave me a more purposeful life.

I drove to Canberra and started my new career in the Police Force. I was a guard at the embassy and Parliament House at the start and was a senior sergeant in the Federal Police when I retired in 2011.

My life with my wife and children was wonderful. We had our home and were very involved in our children’s sporting lives and schools. This was a happy time in my life and my career path took me to interstate and overseas postings.

For the next 33 years, this continued. I was a daily drinker, but I was always in control. However, looking back now, I am sure my relationships and health could have been better without it.

Retirement age was approaching, and I was not prepared for it at all. Eleven years ago, I was offered redundancy and I jumped at the opportunity. My work, wife and children seemed to be all I really needed. How wrong was I! There was nothing that I had even thought about doing in retirement. From the moment I walked out the door at work, there was nothing. A few renovations at home and then left with my own thoughts, as my wife was nowhere near retiring. Gradually, it was replaced with excuses, being unmotivated, boredom and anxiety. I went from being a social drinker to isolation and daily drinking by myself to cope.

My mental health deteriorated, and I became completely reliant on alcohol to solve my problems. Not realising that drinking was mostly to blame. My physical health was suffering, I was depressed and anxious, and I also had serious heart problems. I now have a defibrillator.

There were times I would try to give up but would always end up drinking again. After a few weeks of exerting all my willpower, I would find myself at the bottle shop, buying a few bottles of red wine and wondering how and why I had started again. I was hiding my alcohol use from my wife and family, or so I thought.

It was the same thing every day. I felt trapped in the cycle of alcohol addiction. My relationships were suffering. I felt afraid and alone. I would go to functions and sit silently, most times I was intoxicated, thinking no one would notice. Mostly I thought I got away with it, however, my wife was quick to realise that I was drunk. I was a shell of my former self. I felt full of shame and guilt about having to sneak around and hide the amount of alcohol I was drinking. I finally sought help. I went to a few AA meetings. After a meeting, I would drink a bottle of wine. I didn’t fully understand the reasoning behind Alcoholics Anonymous.

Eventually, my wife became exhausted from my daily drinking. She looked through our bank statements and could see how frequently I was attending the bottle shop and the frequent lying trying to cover my tracks. Out of desperation she had done some research into Hader Clinic Queensland and suggested I read through their website, others’ stories, and how the clinic could help. I was not convinced and still thought I could do it myself. However, after lengthy discussions with my wife and a great deal of apprehension, I knew if I didn’t change, I was going to lose everything.

I was so afraid and depressed. It was a big leap of faith to go there, 28 days, easy!

When I first arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland. I noticed that everyone was young compared to me. I quickly worked out I was the oldest person there. It was easier to focus on the differences than the similarities, and a lot of their stories were way worse than mine. However, deep inside, I knew I was an alcoholic. I realised that I was no better than them because I was there in the same place dealing with the same issues, addiction.

The staff were amazing. Most of them were in recovery from addiction as well. I was told the truth about the seriousness of the disease by them. They educated me ‌so much. I was encouraged to read the AA big book. It made sense to me and introduced me to the 12 steps and the 12 traditions. Inside the literature, I read my ‌story.

I completed the 29 days of detox, however, my wife still noticed that as we got closer to the end of the 29 days that I was still a little blasé about being there, not fully grasping the seriousness of my addiction, or most importantly the effect it had on me, and equally as important, the ones I loved. There was hard love and encouragement not only from my wife, but my counsellors at Hader Clinic Queensland to continue a further 30 days of rehabilitation. I was not happy at all about the further 30 days as I was so very homesick. In my head, I was going home. However, again I had strong family support and realised that it was what I had to do for myself, to become the absolute better version of myself.

Hand on heart, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not SO easy!

They taught me how to journal, practice mindfulness, read literature and attend regular meetings. I haven’t had a drink since I left Hader Clinic Queensland.

My life is very different now. I am part of my community. I attend regular AA meetings and enjoy listening to like-minded people and their survival and continual survival after addiction. I do volunteer work and I attend Saturday afternoon Mass at my local church each week which is part of my meditation, a time of my own thoughts. My health has improved immensely. I swim and ride my bike. I am more present for my family.

Since I have been at home, my wife and family have given me so much support. The community really supports people in recovery. I don’t have to hide anymore. I can go anywhere and do anything. The desire to drink alcohol has been obliterated, however, there are exceptions of fleeting thoughts that are easily set aside by applying and constantly referring to the literature and skills I learned at the clinic.

My advice to anyone wanting to seek help that is struggling with alcohol addiction, particularly at an older age like me, is to keep an open mind. The right people can help. I learned so much from the staff and everyone I met along the way. Most of all, I became willing and listened, taking on board to do whatever was suggested and as a result, I no longer have to live a life of shame and guilt.

Thanks to my time spent in detox and rehabilitation at Hader Clinic Queensland, I’m free from the depression and anxiety that plagued me for so many years. It is never too late to change your life one day at a time.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

Veteran Tom’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Tom is a 47-year-old Veteran, who has been sober for 66 days. He completed a 28-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland after receiving DVA funding to attend.

My parents were both heavy drinkers. They went to parties regularly but there was no abuse or domestic violence in my childhood. I was an anxious child, I found it very difficult to fit into the world around me. Back then we rarely talked about anxiety let alone get treatment for it. I remember my brother was similar.

Growing up personal relationships were hard to maintain. I have never been able to sit still and had a very nervous energy about me. I have always been very methodical, everything had to be how I wanted it to be. I remember my dad telling me that I was self-centred. Looking back, I can see that I was just full of fear.

My parents and extended family were always drinking around us. I even have memories of my parent’s drink driving with us. I was bought up thinking that people who didn’t drink were strange and it was just a part of life. The very first time I drank alcohol, my family and I went to stay with relatives. My cousin gave me a few cans of VB and I couldn’t stand it. I was very young; 12 or 13. I remember thinking how disgusting it tasted and I couldn’t believe people drank alcohol. My mum smelt it on me and I said, “don’t need to worry about me I will never drink, it’s horrible”. They all laughed.

At 15 I started going out to clubs and pubs, things weren’t as strict back then and I was quite tall for my age so it was easy to get in. This is when my drinking really ramped up. It gave me the confidence to go and talk to people and girls. My nervous disposition was nowhere to be seen. I could dance and I felt free. It was routine. School, work, and drinking on the weekend. That’s all I saw other people doing, this was life. I don’t recall ever thinking that it could be a problem. I thought an alcoholic was a homeless drunk on the street.

I went to university straight after year 12. I was very disciplined and determined. In 1996 applied for the air force, and I was not accepted due to an inner ear imbalance. This was the career path I wanted, and I was crushed not to get in. I was focused on getting this job for 6 or 7 years. I had put all of my eggs in one basket. A few years later I joined the Police Force. This was a really structured 6 months in the academy. I was very focused and determined again. Within this structured environment, I was able to not have a drink the whole time.

As soon as I finished at the academy I went back to drinking heavily, after every shift we would drink. We drank every opportunity we could that didn’t impact our work. There is a heavy drinking culture in the police force. I found myself only drinking at the station or with other police. Between the unusual hours and the stress of the job my alcohol use really ramped up and it didn’t affect my work performance. We had our own club at the back of the police station. We even had a vending machine that was filled with alcohol for a while.

I left the police after 8 and a half years and went into the Australian Federal Police. I still had no idea my drinking might be a problem. I went to NSW and just stopped drinking altogether for a while. I would look back at this time to assure myself I had complete control over my alcohol use. I thought I could so easily stop or start. I see now it was just the situation and my perfectionism made sure I didn’t jeopardise anything in my new role.

We got deployed to East Timor on a UN peacekeeping mission. It was extremely dangerous and high anxiety. We were living in a compound with the Military. The danger and anxiety of day-to-day life there were exhilarating. Any free time we had, the whole compound would drink. There was nothing to do except exercise and drink. I loved the danger and the adrenaline and the comradery, I felt part of something. But when I look back now it was a situation in which I could have died many times a day. East Timor had fallen apart, and the government and police had disbanded. People were fighting in the streets with machetes. We would be attacked in the street daily. Our job was to take over and set up functioning police stations and restore some order.

There was so much trauma during this time. I had seen death before, but this was truly horrible. It all seemed so senseless. I was there for a year. The second time I was deployed to East Timor it was much more fulfilling. The country was a lot safer, I was able to work in a command role, and it was more productive. I could see a glimmer of hope for the country. There was a lot of downtimes to drink, and the culture supported it.

I was 34 when I got back in 2009. My anxiety got worse, I noticed I couldn’t even go to a shopping centre. I had a short fuse and no tolerance for stupidity. I would get angry quickly and was frequently in arguments. When we arrived home from the mission, a psychologist gave me a survey that asked some questions about drinking amounts and my general mental health. I was so concerned about not getting deployed again that I answered dishonestly. There was no education or follow-up in any way. I really didn’t connect my anxiety, depression, and bad temperament to the trauma I had suffered.

All I wanted to do was get back overseas. When I was there I had a sense of purpose. I was deployed two more times in my career to Cypress and South Sudan. While I was deployed I felt great, but whenever I would return I would be filled with fear and anxiety again. Every time I returned it was worse. I was afraid to seek any help as I thought it would hinder me in the future. I always wanted to go back overseas. I was completely unable to be vulnerable with anyone and I could not show any weakness.

When we returned from South Sudan, there was a lot of negativity in the AFP. A lot of people who had served alongside me had so much fear about their future; me included. For my whole life, all I thought about was policing. It was my whole world, and I was terrified of change.

Other than exercise the only coping mechanism I knew was drinking alcohol. My drinking became daily, but I was still going to work and getting the job done. I was hungover every day and full of resentment towards the organisation. My wife started to worry about me. I would drink until I fell asleep on the couch. The alcohol addiction had started to take over. I was very isolated.

In 2015 I left the AFP and started working in the private sector. For a short time, it was perfect. I thought that I had found the solution I was looking for. This only lasted a short while. I became indignant and angry at my employers and the people around me. Thinking they didn’t acknowledge the experience I had. I found excuses to hate the job and the boss. I realise now that I was trying to find a justification to drink.

I still refused to seek help, I needed to control everything, I needed to be perfect. I was paranoid and afraid. I was doing geographicals and changing jobs thinking this would fix the situation. I was trying to escape but I always brought myself along with me.

A few years later in 2017, I could see that I could not control my life. I was always involved in arguments. My behaviour had started to impact my relationship. My wife asked me to seek help. I went to see a GP, got referred to a psychologist, and attended an AA meeting. None of this helped me. I would go to the psychologist and try to convince them that I was doing well. I wasn’t ready yet.

Everything spiralled out of control again. I got a deed of separation from work, which is a polite way to be asked to leave with pay. I still couldn’t see I had lost my job as a result of my drinking and being abusive on the job. My mental and physical health were deteriorating. I was lethargic all of the time. I lost interest in everything that I loved. Work, travel, relationships nothing interested me.

My wife and I moved to Malaysia, to start fresh. I thought moving would fix it again, that I wasn’t to blame. It was everyone around me. We stayed there for about a year. It was the same problem again. Me! It got to the point where I was in complete obsession and compulsion with alcohol. I couldn’t get through a day without drinking. I thought about it all day every day. Everything went downhill really quickly and when COVID hit we decided to go home.

I got back to Australia in January 2021. I wasn’t working, I drank all day every day. I tried to limit what and how much I drank. But I could not stop completely. I would have huge arguments with my wife. This went on for over a year. In May, my wife left me after 14 years of marriage. I was completely alone, I was constantly angry at everyone around me. I was unable to take any personal responsibility. My wife asked me to look at going to rehab before she would even consider reconciling.

I searched online for help. I found Hader Clinic Queensland’s website. I saw that DVA funding was available for residential addiction treatment. It shocked me that I didn’t know about this before. It hit me that there were others just like me and that there must be a real problem if a funding program has been created for Veterans. I read stories about people suffering from PTSD. It was the first time I realised that I was suffering from alcohol addiction. There I was completely powerless over the situation. No job or relationship or move overseas was going to fix me.

It was a very quick and easy process. Even though we were separated my wife helped me through it. We got in contact with Hader Clinic Queensland. In only a week I was approved and going in to receive alcohol addiction treatment. I felt it was a great location on the Sunshine Coast. It was peaceful.

The staff and nurses were wonderful. In the early stages, I thought I would just get some information and go through the motions. Once my head cleared, I started attending the classes, I was educated on the disease of addiction. I heard so many stories from other recovering addicts. This gave me hope and really opened my mind to the possibility of recovery. I realised I wasn’t unique and couldn’t do it on my own.

We were introduced to 12-step meetings and recovery literature. This was a turning point for me. We attended meetings daily and I started to see that I was going to need to change everything. Everything I was taught there gave me a foundation for success and still helps me today.

My life has improved tremendously, my wife can see the change in me already in just over 60 days. She has come home and we are working through this together. Not drinking anymore has cleared my head. I have job opportunities. Every single aspect of my life is already different and improving.

Thanks to all the staff at Hader Clinic Queensland I finally have a chance at an alcohol-free life. They taught me to open my mind and be vulnerable so I can finally receive the help I need.

 

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

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