November 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Jane’s Story of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Jane is a 56-year-old professional working in the Supply Chain industry. Jane is 84 days sober after completing a 30-day residential addiction treatment for alcohol addiction at Hader Clinic Queensland.

I have mostly good memories of my childhood, however, my parents separated when I was eleven. My mother left me and my brother with our dad. I had to grow up fast and felt overly responsible for my family. Being the only girl, I felt it was my responsibility to fill my mother’s shoes.

When I was 16, I left school and started to work. My dad remarried and I now had three step-siblings. I did not get along with my stepmother, we fought a lot. This was a stressful time.

I decided to move out of home. I started smoking pot and drinking. I was going to nightclubs underage. I drank from Wednesday through to Sunday and I always drank to get drunk. This continued for a few years and by the age of 21, I was a daily drinker. I knew I had a problem. The thought crossed my mind that I was an alcoholic after reading an article, but I quickly pushed it aside. I made poor decisions whilst drinking, but I just thought this was what young people did.

When I was 24, I joined the air force. I did basic training in Adelaide for 3 months. For the first 2 weeks of training, I couldn’t drink. Once the initial intake was complete, we were allowed to drink on the weekends. Being in the air force was good for me, I needed discipline and structure. All my friends thought I couldn’t do it. I was determined to prove them wrong.

After 3 months, I was based in Wagga Wagga for 12 weeks of classroom-based. I was surprised by the drinking culture on base. I started drinking every night, everyone else was too so I didn’t see a problem with it. I was posted to Richmond in Sydney, I lived on base and continued to drink heavily at night and work through the day. I met my husband there. He was ex-navy, a big drinker, and a compulsive gambler.

We got married 2 years later. We spent most of our time at the RSL gambling and drinking. I felt I was having a great time and didn’t have any interest in changing my lifestyle.

My son was born in 1997, I managed to stop drinking while I was pregnant but shortly after he was born I commenced to drink heavily again. I was drinking a bottle of wine per night. My marriage was very tumultuous. He was emotionally abusive. Alcohol was my only coping mechanism.

In 2006, my family became very concerned with my drinking. I had always functioned, but I had started to have blackouts while drinking and both my physical and mental health were deteriorating. I was clinically depressed. I spoke to a doctor and got some tablets to stop my drinking. After 6 weeks I was drinking again.

In 2011 my husband and I were having massive arguments. He was getting physical with me; I was so unhappy and desperate to end this relationship. I had recently been promoted and could afford to live on my own. We broke up and got back together over the next 12 months.

Our marriage ended in 2013. My son and I moved to Rockhampton to escape. I was relieved to be out of my unhappy relationship and I started to rebuild my life. I got professional help to break the cycle of taking my ex-husband back repeatedly.  Despite the positive actions and changes, I had implemented; I was drinking heavier than ever. I soon realised that it wasn’t the circumstance causing my reliance on alcohol. I knew if I didn’t get help I was going to die. I was afraid of losing my job and I was having suicidal thoughts.

I called a counselling line I had access to through work. The lady I spoke to was an alcohol and drug counsellor. She said, “you need to get yourself into rehab”. I made the decision to seek help. I completed a 2-week program in Brisbane. I stayed sober for 3 years. I attended a few AA meetings, but I felt it was too religious and didn’t continue. I truly believed I would never drink again from willpower alone.

One day I received news that my uncle had died suddenly in his sleep. The thought occurred to me that I didn’t want to die and never have a drink again. I was on holiday in America with my mum at the time. I ordered soda water, and she ordered champagne. They didn’t have soda water, so I made a split-second decision to drink champagne. It went so well that I thought, I can do this, I can manage my drinking. I truly believed that this time I would be able to manage and only drink alcohol socially. Unfortunately, this was not true for me. My alcoholism progressed very quickly, and I found myself drinking daily again.

This went on for 3 years, I didn’t care about anything. My job, my health, nothing mattered to me. I was made redundant and was offered another job. There was going to be drug and alcohol testing as part of my new role. I thought I better get sober again. I booked myself back into the 2-week program I had previously done. It wasn’t the same this time due to covid. There was not much connection.  As soon as I left, I bought a bottle of champagne. I was devastated it hadn’t worked for me.

I was drinking heavier than I had ever been, I thought enough is enough. My health was really declining, I knew that I was not going to have a long life if this continued. I wanted to stay alive.

I was going to work hungover, and it was then I realised I could be putting myself and other people in danger.  My life flashed before my eyes, I knew I didn’t want to die, so I searched online for residential rehabs with a detox program for alcoholics and found Hader Clinic Queensland. I found out that it could be covered by DVA funding due to being ex-military. This covered the whole cost.

I immediately booked in. I was in detox within a week. Everything happened so fast, and I am so glad it did because I needed help. I didn’t know what to expect, I knew I would be in detox for 28 days. When I arrived, I was introduced to my buddy. I felt very comfortable. The staff were amazing. They really understood what I was going through and helped me to settle in. I knew I was in the right place.

I was reintroduced to the 12-step fellowships. Previously I had thought it was a religious program but after having an open mind and the right people around me I could see the benefits it could have for me and the way it worked in others’ lives.

The classes with Mark were amazing, it was eye-opening to understand that we were all the same, I no longer felt like I was alone. I was filled with hope that I could recover. I knew that this was going to work for me if I took direction and did the work.

They took us to a meeting every day. This really helped me to get into a routine in the outside world, we did the daily readings, journaling, and regular feeling check-ins. Every one of these tools has been an integral part of my daily program over the past 83 days.

I am so grateful for the foundation I was given, every other time I tried to stop, I was just white-knuckling it. Now I have a new way of life.

For anyone considering seeking treatment, all I can say is it is worth it.  Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland I no longer live in isolation with nothing to live for except drinking.

I have a real connection with the world around me. I am present for my children and grandchildren who I get to see grow up. I feel alive and have so much hope that this will continue.

Mark’s Story of Recovery Continued

Mark struggled for over 20 years with heroin addiction. He is now 6 years clean after completing his stay at Hader Clinic Queensland.

“Mark started experimenting with drugs when he was only 17. This quickly progressed and he was physically and mentally addicted to heroin by the age of 21. He would suffer from withdrawals without it.” He shares his story.

At the time I was studying at university and working full-time. I was able to function, but I knew that my life could not continue this way. I felt like I was leading a double life and I knew I couldn’t maintain my heroin addiction without having some serious consequences. I lived in fear a lot of the time. I didn’t want to end up in jail.

I tried numerous activities to get clean – rapid detoxes, injections of vitamins, doctors, psychologists, naltrexone treatment – nothing worked for me and by the age of 23 I was put on the methadone program.

Even being on methadone didn’t stop me from using heroin, any time I could heroin I would use. Even so, I still managed to initially progress in my career and was managing large teams of people. I continued being on methadone for 14 years and my life slowly deteriorated.

I am certain that people who cared about me knew something was wrong, but they could not say anything to me. Eventually, I hit a low point. I was depressed and my life started to be unmanageable. I couldn’t get out of bed or go to work. I decided to start reducing the amount of methadone I was taking however I was still using heroin regularly.

Using heroin prevented me from forming real relationships such as with friends, partners, and family. I was completely isolated.

I was identified by my job and I was living two lives. I was living one life at work, and a separate life as a drug addict, and both lives involved a lot of lying and deception. It took so much energy to live in both worlds.

That’s all I was – what I did at work and slowly killing myself with drugs. I didn’t know how to have relationships, I didn’t know how to be a friend.

I started attending NA meetings for a few years but still couldn’t kick my heroin habit entirely. I was constantly relapsing and the destruction in my life progressed. I got to a point where I couldn’t stop. I tried detoxes at home, and I tried just gritting my teeth, but I couldn’t do it.

To fund my habit, I stole money from my family. It was this that led me to recovery. When my family confronted me, I opted for rehab. I felt a lot of shame about where my addiction had led me.

I knew I needed to get into detox and rehab. I was willing to get help. I needed to go somewhere that offered a 12-step program and daily meetings.

At the time most rehabs wanted you to detox before you were admitted. I knew from experience that I could not detox by myself. It was a great relief to find Hader Clinic Queensland as they offered detox, rehab and a 12-step program.

There’s a huge jump between rehab, an institution, and the real world. Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program softened that experience and gave me time to readjust to sober life. It helped me integrate back into society and start my new life.

I knew that it was not good for my recovery to live with my family initially. And living in the transition house gave me time readjust to life. Thanks to the foundations I was able to make during my stay in rehab, I have been able to grow and build a life I want to be a part of. I no longer lead a double life and there is peace in that.

Today I am a completely different person. It takes ongoing work, but the benefits are significant. My relationships have improved in all areas of my life. I am now able to connect with other people with more honesty and with self-esteem.

For the past 6 years, I have discovered so many new things about myself. I love to paint, garden, and renovate my home. Being clean has helped me tap into my creativity. I have my own house and I have a job that is rewarding.

I am so grateful for what I learnt and to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me with my recovery. The daily structure I was taught there, I still practice today. I think it is really important to understand that rehab was only the start of the journey for me.

 

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

David’s Story of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

David is 57 years old and is now over 100 days sober from alcohol addiction after completing the 90-day residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.

“I was a daily drinker for 29 years, it took everything from me. I am finally free from the daily horror of alcohol addiction”.

This is his story.

I grew up on a cattle property. We lived in rural Queensland. I worked hard from a young age. My Dad put my brother and me to work when I was only 7. We lived so remotely that I was sent to boarding school in Toowoomba in 1978 to complete high school. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. A lot of the boys there were very well off. I was a little rough around the edges. I would feel so embarrassed being dropped off on the back of a milk truck.

The first time I drank alcohol was around the age of 12. I was at a fancy dress party with my family. I had one beer and went to sleep in the back of my parents’ ute. I didn’t really drink much after that until I left high school.

I couldn’t wait to get out of boarding school, I hated every minute of it. I went out West to work on cattle stations. My first job was as a jackaroo for a big pastoral company. I was only there for a year before I was promoted to head stockman. I was always a high achiever. I oversaw the whole mustering camp at the age of 18. We didn’t drink out at the campsite. We stayed there 6 weeks at a time. When we came back to the station we would party hard and drink heavily to let off steam. We were very isolated in the middle of nowhere. There was not much else to do.

This was my lifestyle until the mid 90’s. I would work hard and drink hard. I thought it was a very normal life. Everyone else around me was doing the same. It was a very hostile environment. There were often big accidents, horses falling on people or being mauled by big bulls. It took its toll on me.

I got married in 1988. I was the head stockman and she was the bookkeeper. We had two beautiful girls together. I didn’t think my drinking was a problem at this stage but it did upset my wife at times, she didn’t like the way I drank until I was heavily intoxicated every time. I thought this was the way all men behaved. The only events we attended were camp drafts or rodeos which were huge drinking events. The closest town was Mt Isa and we only went there 3 times a year. Any spare time I had revolved around drinking.

My drinking progressively got worse, and I had a few car accidents where I was badly hurt due to drink driving. My wife’s parents fell ill, and we decided to move to Charters Towers to be close to them. I felt lost, all I knew was bush living, I felt out of place, just like when I was at boarding school. All of the bush skills I had were no good to me in town.

I started driving road trains to make a living. There wasn’t as much social drinking. I started drinking on my own. I would drink when I was stressed, which was all the time, it was my only coping mechanism. We lived in Charters Towers for 19 years.

During the 19 years there I did an adult apprenticeship as a diesel fitter. I decided to sell my saddles and anything of value from my mustering days. I needed to get the kids through school and my $15 per hour apprenticeship wage was not going to make the cut. It was very painful to let go of the past. I felt like I was losing my identity. I felt it was my life’s achievement. I had worked from a Jackaroo to a head stockman, to a station overseer all the way to cattle station manager. It was what I was good at.

I wasn’t coping at all during this period, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety and was even hospitalised a few times. I didn’t talk about how I felt to anyone, I didn’t think that a man should feel the way I did. My relationship with my wife was deteriorating. I lost my driver’s license and became unemployed and any jobs I got were short-lived.

I had a serious truck accident as a result of my drinking and I was on a downward spiral. We decided to make a change so we moved to Toowoomba. I got a job as a wardsman in a hospital. Moving didn’t change anything for me. My mental health was in bad shape, and I knew I couldn’t continue this way. I googled rehabs and Hader Clinic Queensland came up. I didn’t contact them straight away, but I kept it in the back of my mind.

In early 2021 my wife left me. I don’t blame her. I was unreliable, was unable to be present and I would drink to blackout most nights, it was really hard on my family. I moved into a small unit alone. The loneliness and despair I felt in that unit are indescribable.

I finally made the decision to seek help so I contacted Hader Clinic Queensland. They gave me advice on how to access my superannuation and I was in detox within 2 weeks. The process was really quick. I had no expectations or comprehension of what rehab was, I thought it might be something like a psych ward I had been in, but, I was at the end of the road. I was open and willing to do anything to get sober.

In detox, we started to do lessons and I learned that I had been suffering from a serious illness. I was very foggy and a lot of it went over my head at first. Until I met one of the support workers, Mark. I really felt a great connection with him, he was like me, a bit of a diamond in the rough. I could really relate to him and things started to sink in a little more.

I was taught about spiritual principles. Particularly about the HOW of the program, honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. With the support workers’ help and guidance, I started to practice a daily program, which still helps me today. I needed to accept that I was unwell and I needed to surrender the idea that I could do this on my own. I had spent so many years in denial. The staff and the other recovering addicts gave me hope that there was a way out for me. I was so relieved to know that people like me can recover.

I was introduced to the 12-step programs and literature, and it was an amazing thing to learn that there was so much support when I left rehab.

For anyone who is out there suffering, the best advice I can offer is to get honest with yourself and seek help. I could not have done this without Hader Clinic Queensland. My drinking always got worse, never better. I had to lose everything before I sought help.

Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland my life is an absolute blessing today. I have freedom and I am calm and peaceful. My whole life used to be drama and conflict. It was the only life I knew. I have learned a new way to live. I have connections with other recovering addicts, and I am part of a community. I truly am not alone anymore.

 

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

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