October 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

A Mother’s Story of Her Daughter’s Alcohol Addiction

Denise recounts her story of watching her daughter struggle with years of alcohol addiction. Her daughter is now 4 and a half months sober after completing the 90-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland.

“Looking back, I can see she had a serious drinking problem. I guess we were in a lot of denial, and it was easier to dismiss it.”

My daughter was 2 days old when we adopted her. She was a beautiful happy little girl, and we were beyond happy to have her join our family. When Rachel was 3 years old, I separated from my partner and my mother was very ill, it was a very tumultuous time in my life. I am not sure how this impacted Rachel’s emotional stability at such a young age.

We moved to Australia when she was 5 years old, and I remarried when she was 6. My husband has 3 children and I have a son from my previous marriage. Rachel was the youngest of 5. I felt we had a very loving home and were a close family.

My daughter appeared to have a lot of friends growing up, she was sporty and great at netball. We always spoke openly about the fact Rachel was adopted. It did not appear to upset her. She would always say “I am so lucky”.

Around the age of 15 was the first time I noticed Rachel drinking alcohol excessively. She got intoxicated after someone bought a bottle of sambuca over on Christmas Day.  I went into the laundry and saw her washing out her t-shirt. I asked her if she was ok and she told me she had drank too much and been sick.

Rachel finished year 12 and was working part-time in hospitality and was accepted into a course at TAFE. She had a boyfriend, and they got an apartment together. There was a lot of partying and drinking at the time. It didn’t concern me as I thought it was what most people her age were doing.

Two or three months before her course was going to be completed, Rachel and her boyfriend went on a working holiday. I was disappointed she hadn’t finished her diploma. She came to stay with me a few nights before they were due to leave. Rachel went to her friend’s 21st, I told her that I would give her a lift home no matter what time. She assured me she wasn’t going to drink and took the car.

At 2 am I woke up and she wasn’t home I was a bit worried, so I stayed up waiting. At 4 am the phone rang and my husband answered. I could hear him saying “where is she, is she ok,” I thought she had an accident but soon found out she had been arrested for drink driving. She had to go to court the next morning and needed $1000 bail. I feel that I dismissed this and put it down to her being young again. Looking back I can see she had a serious drinking problem. I guess we were in a lot of denial and it was easier to dismiss it.

They went overseas on their working holiday. On the holiday her boyfriend called us to ask if he could marry Rachel. He asked her to marry him and she ran away. He returned to Australia and we had no idea where she was.

Four or five months later we received a call from Rachel, she was distraught and was asking for money to get back to Australia. We organised the airline tickets to fly her home. The shuttle bus arrived to take her to the airport, but when it arrived she was nowhere to be found. I called the resort manager, he told me “I understand what you are going through as I have had a daughter with addiction problems also”. It really surprised me to hear him describe her in this way. Rachel had to travel to London to fly back to Australia. Two days before she was meant to leave she lost her passport. Everything in her life was so unmanageable. There were multiple other incidents due to her drinking in this short period that made it so apparent that she had a serious problem with alcohol.

Over the years Rachel continued to drink heavily on and off, but she was able to hold down jobs and renewed our confidence that it was just a phase and she had grown out of it.

Rachel went on to get married and have two children. This marriage was very tumultuous. Her husband would send us photos and videos of Rachel being heavily intoxicated and questioning her. He would constantly call us and complain about her drinking. Her drinking appeared to be out of control again and she was clearly in an unstable and unhappy marriage.

Her marriage broke down and Rachel started to look really unwell, she lost so much weight. We would call her and she would never answer. I was very worried for her. She was lying to everyone and was unable to function. I realised then that she needed help.

I had called Hader Clinic Queensland a few months before to get some information. I spoke with JJ – he was so supportive and understanding. I felt that when she was ready to accept help that this would be the best place for her.

When the time come, and Rachel was ready to accept help, the admission process to get her into treatment was very straightforward and fast. I called them on a Monday and explained she was ready. I knew we had a small window of opportunity. To my surprise, she was in treatment by Wednesday.

The day we dropped her to Hader Clinic Queensland was so difficult. She was more broken than we had ever seen her. But I felt we had made the right decision and she was going to receive the help she needed in there.

The first week we had a family group meeting and the support we received was beyond expectation. The staff are so knowledgeable and understanding. I can never thank them enough for what they have done for my family. I remember they asked me how I felt, and I burst into tears, I felt safe to finally share my pain. I didn’t realise how much we needed to heal as a family. I have learned so much about myself on this journey, I feel that we are all in recovery together.

Every time we visited Rachel the difference in her was unbelievable. During family group sessions we got to share our experiences with other families who were going through the same thing as us.

In our sessions, I learned that all different types of people can struggle with addiction. I used to feel embarrassed that my child was an alcoholic, that I had failed in some way. Now I have no problem talking about this with other people. I know that I can be an asset to our community and anyone else who may be going through what we have.

The literature we were introduced to was so helpful to read and we were encouraged to attend Alanon meetings which have given me some amazing tools to support Rachel on her journey. I didn’t understand that Rachel was really sick.

Our relationship with our daughter now is great. Rachel has regular contact with me, she is present in our life. I recently had some health issues and she has been a great support to me. We have our happy daughter back, she speaks with confidence and her physical and mental health has greatly improved. Our grandchildren have their Mum back in their lives and it is truly beautiful to watch.

For anyone considering Hader Clinic Queensland, I cannot recommend them enough. Their holistic approach and ongoing support for families has changed our life.

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

Shane’s Alcohol and Codeine Addiction Recovery

Shane completed the 90-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland after struggling with alcohol addiction and codeine addiction. At almost 5 months clean and sober, he tells his story.

I grew up in an alcoholic family and my childhood was very chaotic. I was always alone. My Dad was always at work or drinking. I was an intelligent kid and did well at school. I had a best friend who left in year 5, and after that I never really had friends. My parents were highly critical of everything I did, particularly my mum. She was a very prideful woman of English Heritage.

During primary school and high school, I was bullied relentlessly. I was constantly on edge. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt out of place at home and at school. I felt like I didn’t have my own identity.

When I was 18, I got drunk on a cask of wine. It was great, like floating on air. I was only drinking socially in my late teens/early 20’s. I was a hard worker, and I felt very successful.

By the age of 28, I already had 2 children and a wife, I had bought 2 houses. I felt like all these things made me a successful person. I didn’t feel as though my drinking was an issue and was only a social thing.

In 1996, I started my accounting degree. I was very focused on achieving this goal. Towards the end of the degree, I was so focused on this that I wasn’t a present father or husband. I see now that I’d been obsessed with making my mum proud of me. I couldn’t focus on anything else.

My wife and I separated in 2002. It was an extremely stressful time. I was 80% through building a house and finishing my degree. Being separated from my children was extremely painful. I had severe headaches, and I was in so much emotional pain. I went to the doctor, and he prescribed me some opiate-based painkillers. I realised it took away the emotional pain along with the physical pain I was in.

I took a box of Nurofen plus every day. I was physically numb. If I could get codeine, it was good and if I couldn’t, I would become very angry. I was mixing codeine and alcohol every day. This went on for 2 years. I realised I had a serious physical and mental addiction. I would try to stop and I would have extreme withdrawal symptoms. It was a living hell.

I went to ATODs to get help and they put me on Subutex. I was still drinking alcohol daily. I was a high-functioning alcoholic. I was still working and had a few different relationships, but I found these hard to maintain. In 2007 I stopped drinking cold turkey for 12 months. This renewed my hope that I could control it and didn’t have a problem.

In March 2008 I was offered a job in the mines. Drinking and drugs were an enormous problem there. I started drinking again. I was so depressed; I spent so much time listening to other men who were suffering out there.

This continued for over a decade. I was just in a loop of drinking and being on Subutex. It was isolating, I felt trapped and tied to a chemist. Everything revolved around whether I would have access to it. What job I had, where I lived, everything revolved around Subutex.

I decided to get off it and saw a GP to help me. I realise now that drinking alcohol quickly took its place. At nighttime, I would drink until I was unconscious. On the weekends, I would drink non-stop. I had finally had enough of the life I was living. I knew I needed help.

I googled rehabs and Hader Clinic Queensland popped up. I did a 90-day program.  When I arrived, I felt relieved to be there and to be finally receiving some help that didn’t revolve around medication. I learned so many coping mechanisms. I was introduced to 12-step programs and meetings. Daily structure, daily gratitude lists. I learned that I really had to be honest and do the work if I wanted to have a better life.

Today I am 4 and a half months sober, my life is infinitely better. I have so much hope for my future. Some days are better than others. My family and my children have been in touch with me. I know leading a clean and sober life is challenging, but thanks to the amazing foundation I have built, I know it is possible one day at a time.

Thank you, Hader Clinic Queensland, for saving my life.

 

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

Rachel’s Journey to Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Rachel is a registered nurse from Sydney. She has been sober for 4 and a half months after alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is her story.

“Everything is so much brighter. I feel healthy and I am free from living a life of fear and dishonesty. I wake up and I feel happy to be a part of my life.”

I was born in New Zealand. My mother had adopted me out at birth, as she was only 16.

My adoptive parents were lovely people and I have a great relationship with them both. We moved to Australia when I was 5. My mother had 2 older biological sons from a previous relationship. I always felt different from my brothers and separated from the family.

My childhood was filled with a lot of adventures and fun. We were always going somewhere. I was bubbly and social but found it hard to maintain deep connections and friendships.

My world was turned upside down when I was 11. I was sexually abused. This continued for a year. I didn’t realise what was happening to me was wrong until I was an adult. This really affected all of my future relationships and my self-esteem. I started smoking and drinking in my early teen years. My parents would let me drink occasionally at home when they were there, but I would sneak alcohol and drink when they weren’t around. I found relief from alcohol, it helped me to cope with the trauma I had experienced and push it down.

When I finished high school, I went into the hospitality industry. It supported my lifestyle, and everyone worked hard and partied after work. I went travelling and continued heavy binge drinking. I would find myself in dangerous situations frequently and decided it was best for me to go back to Australia.

I felt really unsettled in my early 20s I had always wondered about my biological mum, and I decided I wanted to find her. I felt a lot of anxiety and emotional stress during this time, I had so many fears about her rejecting me or not wanting me in her life. I turned to alcohol to self-medicate. The entire process of finding her and making contact took about 12 months.

When I was 29, I met my ex-husband. We had 2 children together, and this felt like a good period in my life. I was happy for the first time that I could remember. I quit smoking and drinking throughout both of my pregnancies and was living a healthy lifestyle. When my youngest son was 2, everything unravelled. I found out my husband was having an affair. My life was falling apart. I felt so betrayed. I thought I had found someone I could trust. I didn’t feel like I could leave. He supported me and the children. I was so alone and trapped. I took up drinking heavily again as a coping mechanism.

I decided if I was going to have a better life. I needed to get a career and be self-reliant. I had very little self-esteem from years of verbal abuse. I believed I was not smart enough to study or do well without him.

I enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing and when I was 36 years old, I completed my degree. I got a position as an RN in a hospital; I took my job seriously and ensured I would only drink at nighttime.

I hadn’t left the unhealthy relationship I was in yet. I fell into a deep depression again and alcohol made everything worse.

I wanted to leave the marriage. I found a rental property, and we had shared custody of the children. It was a messy separation. He did a lot of vindictive stuff to cause me harm.

I would find myself on regular binge drinking benders and having blackouts. I had tried many ways to stop drinking on my own and I would only ever stay sober for a few weeks. I knew I needed to stop drinking but did not know how.

My family and friends intervened and told me they thought I needed help. My mum had contacted Hader Clinic Queensland a few months earlier and suggested I get some professional help. I felt relieved at the thought of getting help as I was exhausted and couldn’t keep going on this way.

What I have learned during my time at Hader Clinic Queensland has transformed my life. I have learned I am so much stronger than I thought I was. I had no coping mechanisms. Life was tough before.

I was introduced to daily journaling and gratitude lists. I was taught how to pray, meditate, and look after my physical and mental health. The education program was amazing. I learned so much about the disease of addiction and that I wasn’t just weak-willed; I was very sick.

Everything is so much brighter for me today. I feel healthy and have freedom from active alcohol addiction. I am free from living a life of fear and dishonesty. I wake up and I feel happy to be part of my life. Everything I learned in treatment is part of my daily routine. I was introduced to the 12 steps literature and meetings during my stay. These meetings and the community of recovering addicts help me stay accountable and be able to live my life surrounded by hope.

Thank you, Hader Clinic Queensland, for all your support on my journey to recovery. You have provided a foundation for success and changed my life.

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

Harriet’s Recovery Update – Five Years On

Harriet completed the 90-day residential addiction treatment for alcohol addiction at Hader Clinic Queensland over 5 years ago and has remained sober since. This is her story.

“Somewhere between my first drink in my teens and my last ‘drunk’ at 42, alcohol had gone from being my solution to being my problem.”

In the beginning, and for many years, drinking was my solution to anxiety, depression, stress, and pain. It gave me confidence, made me feel happy, helped me meet people, allowed me to escape from all the stress and pressure of life, numbed the pain and other uncomfortable feelings, and helped me to fit in.

At 40, my husband thought my drinking was getting a little out of control and that I may need some help, so I did a three-week detox in a medical facility to appease him. In that period, I didn’t drink, got fed three times a day, and didn’t have to face the responsibilities of family or work – I felt great and thought I was cured!

Within a week or two I was telling my husband that I could control my drinking now and just have one or two, but over the next two years my drinking got progressively worse – to the point that I was rarely able to go to work, I was stealing money to buy more alcohol, I was lying and making excuses for my absences from important family functions, I was hiding bottles around the house, I was disposing of empty bottles in various council bins around the neighbourhood so my husband wouldn’t know just how much I was drinking, I was frequently driving drunk to bottle shops further and further afield so the attendants didn’t think I had a problem, and I was sitting in parks and public toilets drinking hot bottles of the cheapest wine I could find.

My life consisted of obsessively and compulsively thinking about drinking – how much alcohol I had, where I could get more, how I could get money to buy more, when I could have my next drink……and on and on it went all day, every day. If I wasn’t drinking, I was thinking about drinking and if anyone got in my way I would unleash a storm of anger and intentional hurt on them. I felt alone and desperately unhappy.

I occasionally sought help from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, self-help books, acupuncture……. anything that I thought might help end the depression and anxiety, but never once considered stopping drinking. What they told me made sense intellectually, but nothing worked for longer than a week or so. The fact was until I was honest, nothing would ever work because I was ignoring the problem and just trying to fix the symptoms.

It is said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome”, but for me, it was doing the same thing over and over again despite knowing full well what the outcome would be.

At 42, after an ultimatum from my supportive and long-suffering husband, I was so scared and desperate that I was honest about my drinking for the first time – honest with my husband but more importantly honest with myself. I had to accept the fact that alcohol was no longer my solution, it was my problem – it had removed my freedom, independence, dignity, meaningful relationships, and hope. I was no longer living life; I was purely existing and contemplated suicide.

I was physically and mentally broken and desperate, and all that was left to do was ask for help and surrender completely – I realised that I couldn’t do this on my own.

My husband found Hader Clinic Queensland through a desperate google search. When he went to the website, he was impressed by their:

  • Immediate admission
  • Long history of success with long-term recovery
  • Highly qualified staff
  • Family support

Hader Clinic Queensland helped me through their 90-day Residential Treatment Program. During this time, I lived in a Therapeutic Community (TC) which had a holistic, sustainable recovery orientation, focusing on the whole person (physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual) and overall lifestyle changes, not simply abstinence.

Hader Clinic Queensland also recognise that addiction/alcoholism affects more than just the individual and their Family Support Program provided my husband and family with a greater understanding of the disease of addiction/alcoholism, positive practical skills and support during and after treatment, and most of all, gave them hope.

The TC approach of Hader Clinic Queensland’s Residential Treatment Program is based on mutual self-help and support rather than medically oriented abstinence, which I had tried in the past but did not work for me. It helped me learn about myself, gain self-esteem, develop self-respect, learn about others and foster mutual respect while establishing and maintaining appropriate levels of responsibility, authority, language, and behaviour that were important and valued by the community.

Another key to the success of this approach, in my opinion, is that many of the Hader Clinic staff are in recovery themselves and have made helping other addicts/alcoholics their chosen career. This provided me with a very powerful message about the benefits and success of treatment in long-term recovery.

The program includes formally structured groups and individual therapy sessions with a professional psychologist, as well as more reality-based therapies that allowed me to utilise and develop skills such as communication, collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving, empathising, reaching out, helping, and teaching in a safe and supportive environment. Even the most fundamental activities such as laundry, cooking, and maintenance were therapeutic, as they enhanced my personal growth and assisted me to improve the life skills necessary to manage my own ongoing recovery outside treatment.

In conjunction with this Residential Treatment Program, I was exposed to daily AA and NA meetings. This allowed me to identify with other addicts and alcoholics through their stories in which they described where they were, what happened and where they are now – showing me that long-term recovery was possible, even for me.

In my journey so far I have learned that addiction/alcoholism is a cunning, baffling, powerful, progressive, and fatal disease; and that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety but connection.

I am a very grateful alcoholic who is sober today thanks to the grace of my Higher Power, the Fellowship, and the 12 Step program of AA. This program has taught me not only how to stop drinking, but how to stay sober and live a meaningful life – one day at a time.

I will always be an alcoholic and as such, this disease continues to try and isolate me and make me think that I’m cured, but if I don’t pick up the first drink, stay connected, help others and remain grateful I’ve got a chance of staying sober and being happy, joyous and free – just for today. Recovery is a journey not a destination and I must put it first so that everything I love in life does not have to come last.

Since leaving treatment I have travelled overseas, been on cruises, returned to full-time work, and repaired my relationships with my husband, son, and family. I have attended AA/NA meetings at sunrise on Waikiki beach in Hawaii; among the bright lights of Las Vegas; on-board cruise ships; around roaring campfires in the outback; in the rainforests of far North Queensland and continue to go to meetings during my lunch breaks, every weekend and most evenings. By doing what is suggested by members that have been sober for longer than me; listening to newcomers; sharing my story honestly; being of service to others (both inside and outside of AA); and using this program as a blueprint for my life, today I accept myself and have a life that is better than I could have imagined.

I also attend the local AA meeting which is attended by the current Residential Treatment facility clients once a month to share my story and give back what has been freely given to me.

Addiction gave me a life of isolation, fear, darkness, and despair but recovery has given me a life of connection with others, purpose, limitless possibilities, and hope. As my alcoholism was progressive, so is my recovery – it just keeps getting better and better. It’s not always easy but it is definitely worth it!

Hader Clinic Queensland has been successfully treating addiction since 1998 and provides ethical, compassionate, and highly effective treatment options. The facilitation of successful patient outcomes makes them Australia’s premier addiction and mental health treatment program. Their primary purpose is to fully relieve suffering addicts and families from the pain of active addiction and untreated mental illness.

If alcohol or drugs have gone from being your solution to being your problem, why not reach out to the team at Hader Clinic Queensland and see what they have to offer? For me, that was the beginning of a life that I truly deserve and allowed me to find, accept and love myself…my authentic self.

I share my story in the hope that it helps others find freedom from addiction and long-term recovery.

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

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