April 2023 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Ethan Moon – From Addict to Australian Idol

Almost one year after completing rehab for drug addiction, Ethan Moon captured the hearts of Australia with his heartfelt performances, and the sharing of his addiction recovery journey, on Australian Idol. This is his story.

My name is Ethan Moon and in 2023 I was a contestant on Australian Idol. I stood in front of Kyle Sandilands, Meghan Trainor, Harry Connick Jnr and Amy Shark and sang “Half A Man” by Dean Lewis. I had a sinus infection, had under-slept and was extremely nervous that day.

When they told me I was going through to the next round, I shook their hands in gratitude. The judges called my parents into the room to tell them in person. My mum thanked Kyle Sandilands – who I found to be a kind and humble man – and he said to her “No, thank you for bringing him back to us”

The reason Kyle said this is because I had told the judges my story.

I decided to be completely honest about my reasons for auditioning for Australian Idol.

I had no vocal training and had never been a singer, but I found out I could sing while I was in rehab.

Ever since I was 13 I had been fighting a mostly losing battle with drugs, mainly ice addiction. In a weird coincidence, I realised that the date of my audition was exactly two years from the date I first walked into Hader Clinic Queensland.

After I came outside, the realisation hit me, and I broke down and cried. It just flooded out. My parents were there beside me, but not long ago I had been out of contact with them for almost a year.

They had taken out a DVO for getting into a fight and breaking into their house. I still have scars on my wrist from that incident. I had woken up in the hospital after overdosing and crashing my car. I was using ice, cannabis and benzos every single day. I thought I would always be a criminal and was suicidal at the time.

But now here I was, clean and sober, about to travel to Sydney for Australian Idol. There were over 70,000 people who auditioned and I was one of only 50 who made it in front of those judges. Although I got voted out in the next round, I’m glad I had this experience. I never would have discovered I could sing unless I went to Hader Clinic Queensland’s drug rehabilitation treatment program.

I started using drugs around age 13. I had run away from home after fighting with my dad – we can both be hot-headed and easily lose our temper.

I ended up at the house of an older guy who sexually assaulted me and then offered me drugs afterwards. I didn’t tell a single person about this until I saw a counsellor at rehab.

My dad was in the army and my mum is a police officer. Authority was respected in our home.

I was a sensitive kid, I loved sports and excelled at playing soccer. But I didn’t do so well at studying. I was known for being a troublemaker – talking back at teachers, picking fights, and wagging school with my friends.

When I was in Townsville during my teens I would spend a lot of time smoking weed with my friends at the underpass near my school, then I progressed to using ice. Townsville has a big problem with methamphetamine, and many people I knew started using it as teenagers. At the time it was a cure for my boredom and my feelings – I felt unloved and unwanted 99% of the time.

I had a job refereeing soccer games, and I could still play in matches. My parents would punish me for the infractions at school, but I just kept doing it. So, when I was 16 my mum sent me to a trade college in Brisbane to get certificates in Sports and Business. She tried to get me away from the crowd I’d fallen in with.

But when I moved to college, I made friends with other students who were into drugs and the cycle started again. I got some qualifications, but soon dropped out and went to work at a fast food restaurant – but my main gig was selling drugs. I liked the profits and the prestige. I didn’t have many real friends, but that lifestyle helped support my habit.

I had a girlfriend for a couple of years, but it didn’t last. I was selling pot, coke, and acid. And Xanax whenever I could get my hands on it.

I’m 6’5 and was able to fight, and sometimes I just could not control my anger. When one of my workmates made a joke about my ex-girlfriend I took him out to the back room and beat him up. I was sacked straight after.

I grew up with an emotionally distant father, and his dad was a Vietnam Veteran and used to flog me with his belt when I was disobedient. I wasn’t really a violent person – but sometimes I felt I needed to defend myself just to survive.

My mum moved back down to Brisbane, and I stayed with her and my siblings for a while, but she found weed under my mattress. I had another massive fight with my dad and moved out to a friend’s place where I could smoke whenever I wanted.

At this time in my late teens, I was still playing soccer in local competitions. I got the golden boot for a season and was the top striker and fastest runner. But I would also smoke bongs in the car park before a match. By the time I got on the field, my head was numb. I also started getting into cars and taught myself how to tune and build engines. That kick-started my interest in street racing.

My parents heard I was selling drugs, but I was mostly out of contact with them. They would try to reach me, but I didn’t want a bar of it. I got a criminal record pretty early from being caught so many times carrying drugs. I didn’t want to stop at the time. The substances helped me cope with my feelings.

I got another girlfriend who fell pregnant, and I was saving up money to prepare for the baby. After not seeing her for 6 months I learned the pregnancy was terminated. I wasn’t ready to be a dad, but I still grieved.

I was in a spiral. At this point, it was hard to make a living off dealing drugs as I was smoking most of my profits. My family reached out again and asked me to come home – this time I did.

I went to a GP and got diagnosed with depression.

Then my parents held an intervention – my grandparents and siblings and aunts and uncles were there. They told me I could either go to rehab or be out of their house.

It was intimidating, but I agreed. My parents paid for me to do the 90-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland. They told me they just wanted their son back.

I was the youngest person at the clinic. I found the staff very understanding, but after I left I thought I could manage on my own. Everything I learned there went out the window.

I stopped going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Things got worse from that point.

I remember having an argument with my sister when I was off my face. Dad came home and intervened, the fight escalated, and I pulled a knife on him. He kicked me out of the house and called the police.

I drove away and 10 minutes later was back banging on the door demanding to collect my stuff. I punched in a window to open the locked door. I was barely inside when the police came in to arrest me.

Paramedics took me to the hospital and spend most of the night extracting the shards of glass from my arm.

My parents took a DVO out against me so I couldn’t go near them or contact them. Not that I wanted to anyway – I had returned to my old life of dealing, staying with friends at their houses, ignoring my loved ones, and driving around recklessly.

It was only a couple of days after the DVO that I was caught doing 75km over the speed limit and driving under the influence, and I lost my licence.

One of the worst experiences was when one of my drug runners got robbed. I was so angry.

Me and a couple of mates got high on meth and Xanax, jumped into the car and went to get those drugs back.

When we got to the house a fight broke out, I saw my mate stabbed in the kidney. It was a very confronting sight. We dropped him off at the hospital, and as I was driving home I blacked out.

I barely remember what happened when I woke up in the emergency room. I told them to not bother calling my parents because they wouldn’t care anyway. I’d lost all hope for my future with them. The car had $10,000 in drug money stolen out of it. I’m pretty sure one of my friends did that… Like I said, I had no real mates.

I was completely sick of my life. I had one guy I knew who also wanted to get clean and we went back to meetings together. I started to rebuild my life and made contact with my family again.

When I was in Hader Clinic Queensland the staff got each of us to write our life story down.

My mum found those pieces of paper at her house when she was clearing up my stuff. She saw everything – my childhood, my experiences in the drug world, my feelings about my family.

Dad hadn’t hugged me since I was 8 years old, and I felt disconnected from him.

Mum showed this story to my father, and something changed in him. He sat me down and apologised, told me that he loved me. For the first time in my life, I saw my father cry, and we embraced. Now we talk every day, and he is my best friend.

Back when I was in Hader Clinic Queensland, I was cleaning up the kitchen and singing Elvis Presley. I was embarrassed to find people had been listening. They were impressed.

Me and some of the other residents practised and performed in a little concert at the rehab. I sang “Holes” by Passenger and afterwards, I could see some people crying.

One of the biggest and toughest older blokes at the rehab came and hugged me afterwards saying “Thanks mate, I needed to hear that”.

One of the staff, JJ, told me I had a gift. I started to think about making a career out of music.

It was my mum who signed me up for Australian Idol. I did two rounds of online auditions and made it through to see the judges. I stayed clean the whole time. I was working at a pub and I still am, doing the night shift. I don’t feel the urge to use or drink anymore.

Hader Clinic Queensland was where I learned my addiction is a disease and there is a way out.

I want to use my music to help other young people struggling with drug abuse. There are a lot of us out there, and many of us feel alone. I’m only 21 but I managed to turn my life around, so I know it’s possible for anybody.

I love how music has the power to move people. When I sing, I feel a deep connection with others.

Since I got clean I’ve learned that I’m a caring person and that I can have my passions like cars and sports but don’t have to live dangerously. I am close to my family. I look after my nieces and nephews and I’m a trusted employee at my job. I now have real friends who are also clean, and we help support each other.

I have dreams and plans for my future. I want to be a performer and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. I have too much to lose now to go back to my old life.

Next week I am celebrating one year clean.

Lizzie’s Drug Recovery Story

Twenty-four-year-old Lizzie is now eight months clean from her polydrug addiction. She is returning to competitive rowing, and life has never looked more promising. This is her story.

The years before my second stay at Hader Clinic Queensland were a blur. It was chaos. An overdose where I almost suffocated on my own vomit.

Taking fantasy in an Uber and passing out on the footpath as it drove off, where a council worker found me the next day. Drug raids, a DUI, and multiple possession charges. I was so overcome by meth-induced anxiety I couldn’t sleep and was afraid to go to work. The creeping paranoia was constant.

Throughout this insanity, I think I was also quite lonely. My big sister, who I used to confide in about my problems, said she didn’t want to know me anymore. I hadn’t spoken to my dad in 2 years.

There were no more parties and fun nights out, just drug dealers and criminals. I was in my early twenties but couldn’t hold friendships for long because I had zero regulation over my moods. I’d end up pushing people away with verbal attacks. Everything was in Crisis Mode, all the time. And it was lonely as hell.

When I came to Hader Clinic Queensland my spirit was broken. I didn’t believe in love anymore. I’d had a couple of abusive relationships but thought that behaviour was normal. The nastier a guy became, the more I felt I deserved it. Telling me I was unattractive and worthless; blaming and threatening me, or hitting and choking me during rage fits. But in between these incidents, they acted friendly and said they loved me. Those trauma bonds kept me trapped just as much as ice and other substances.

The crazy thing is, I’d never grown up in that kind of world. I attended a private school and was a promising athlete. I was a bit rebellious as a teen but no more than the other girls. My home life was stable. My sister and parents loved me… But here I was picking up narcissistic, violent men from psych wards, unable to hold a job, injecting ice, and facing serious criminal charges.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. This disease can destroy anybody. I am one of the lucky ones.

My name is Lizzie, I’m 24 years old and almost 8 months clean. I completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s 90-day residential treatment program and their 3-month Transitional Housing Program, and now I work in hospitality and live with my dad. The people I have in my world now are good friends, there’s no drug use, and I’m physically and emotionally safe. I’ve taken up rowing again, competing in state championships and want to compete at a national level. All this in the few short months since I left Hader Clinic Queensland.

I’ve been able to dedicate myself to my health and my goals in a way I never could before rehab and the 12 Step fellowship turned my life around. There is a lot I missed out on during my years of using, but now I’m looking forward to all those things I never did before – even something as simple as attending a family Christmas. I have a trusting relationship with my father, and I do cooking classes with my mum. My sister and I are talking again and I made amends to her. I don’t feel like I could ever go back to drugs with all the gifts I have today.

It was not a smooth ride though. My first stint in Hader Clinic Queensland was when I was 19. I used drugs casually with my friends in high school. I had mental health issues and an eating disorder in my teens; it felt like there was a lot of pressure to achieve. A couple of the teachers were worried about me and of course, my parents didn’t like the people I was hanging out with. I felt like I was disappointing them. At the time all my friends were drinking and doing coke and pills on the weekend. I was the “party girl” and didn’t think I was liked for my own personality… just my willingness to have fun and rebel with them.

By the time I had graduated, it wasn’t just occasionally partying – I’d progressed to using ice. I was smoking about 2 points a day, then drinking heavily to regulate the anxiety, and taking Valium when I could get it. Ice was the answer to a lot of my problems in the beginning – it helped me unplug from my feelings and kept my weight down. I came to my sister in desperation because I couldn’t stop. After that came to a family intervention, which was scary. They gave me an ultimatum to go to rehab or move out.

When I first went to Hader I did have an awakening to the fact my addiction is actually a disease. It was a relief to meet other people who experienced the same problems. I made it to 89 days, but then I decided to take some medication I wasn’t prescribed (a friend of mine had died during my stay and I didn’t know how to handle it). But I also think the main issue was that I wasn’t fully ready to stay clean. Within a month of leaving, I was using again.

I had a few jobs in retail and painting houses. I attempted one year of a psychology degree but found I couldn’t focus. I was a lone wolf most of the time. My parents were always worried about me, and they couldn’t trust me. Sometimes I would only communicate with them when calling Mum in a crisis. I was never at home very much; I was very unreliable at my job. Basically, I only worked to support my habit.

I started dealing not long after my relapse. Things were a lot worse this time – I had begun injecting and experiencing more periods of psychosis. I was reactive and unstable all the time, and my parents had to help me escape from one particularly dangerous man I was dating. I just had no self-esteem and no connection to reality.

When it came to my second stay at Hader Clinic Queensland, that was my own choice and not my family motivating me. My mum said she would not send me to any rehab again unless I asked for it, given what happened last time. It turned out that things had to get very bad before I was willing to properly commit to the program.

When I dedicated myself to giving Hader Clinic Queensland another go, I had all these criminal charges against me and could see my life was going to implode. I knew there was no way I could handle going to court in my state – I was off my head all the time. But I knew from experience there was a place I could go to get help.

The admission process was very easy, I felt a lot more comfortable this time. I’m fortunate that my family paid for me to attend the entire 90-day program and the Transitional Housing Program because that has helped me maintain my recovery. My stay was a lot less scary – I knew what to expect, and could catch up with the staff I already knew. I felt comfortable and understood. The therapeutic community was very structured with meals, classes, and meetings. It was very healing; I knew I was safe. Part of me didn’t want to leave.

My parents visited me some weekends, and about a month into my stay I remember my Mum and I were laughing together for the first time in years. She said, “I forgot how funny you are Lizzie. I love having you back, you’re so serious when you’re on drugs”. I was already changing and growing.

My biggest growth was probably in the Transitional Housing Program where I lived for 3 months with other clients. We lived independently but did check-ins with staff several times a week, drug screening tests, and counselling. We had structure and accountability.

It was useful having a weekly shopping budget and learn how to share space and work together. I had a chance to ease back into life and get some stability. I joined a home group in NA, got a service position, and was a sponsor. I and the other residents took care of each other and are all good friends today. It’s wonderful to have these deep connections for the first time in my life. I don’t know if I would have stayed clean without Transition. My parents were relieved I took that option.

I started rowing again while I was in Transition. This was something I always excelled at but hadn’t done since high school. I found I could dedicate myself to my training, get up early in the morning, and find joy in it again. There is a sort of meditative stillness to rowing. I’m using the tools I learned at Hader Clinic Queensland and in Narcotics Anonymous to find a more spiritual path in life, and I now attend church and have a healthy romantic relationship with someone who is in recovery.

On a good day, I wake up at 4 am for training, after getting a solid 8-hour sleep. I meditate, eat breakfast, go, see my partner and go to a meeting. I do the daily readings and go to work. I used to struggle with bulimia since I was 15, but now I have a good relationship with food and listen to what my body needs. I love growing plants. And I feel immense joy in simple things – like getting birthday presents for my relatives. For many years I wasn’t around for these celebrations or buying anybody gifts. I was just too self-absorbed, and everything was about drugs.

It kind of shocks me now how calm I’ve become. Nothing really disturbs my peace the way it used to. I can create space around my feelings, talk to someone, journal about it, or pray to a Higher Power. I have faith and community, so I can always find my centre again.

I’m telling my story in the hope it will resonate with someone out there who is still suffering. Hader Clinic Queensland has completely changed my life, and it can change yours too – if you are willing. You are not the only person who feels like this. There are many other addicts out there, and we get better by helping each other. No matter how scared we are when we start this journey, it always gets easier. I wouldn’t have imagined I could have the life I do today. Hader Clinic Queensland and its program and staff give us a safe space to rewrite our own lives.

I plan to go back and finish my psychology degree so I can help others who have gone down this path. I really feel I have something to give back to the world. I look forward to competing in more State and National Championships for rowing. Thinking about the future is exciting, not terrifying. Because I know whatever happens in my life, good or bad, I will be ok. We can learn to ride the wave and just keep going.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

When it comes to heroin addiction treatment, and specifically withdrawal, it is important to separate acute withdrawal symptoms from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Acute withdrawal symptoms occur immediately after cessation of heroin use and commonly last between five and seven days; post-acute withdrawal syndrome, however, can last for weeks or even months after a person has stopped using.

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Habitual heroin users are likely to experience a range of intense symptoms when they stop using. Heroin dependency affects a user physically and mentally; so, withholding the drug will lead to mental and physical discomfort.

Common heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Aches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive body fluids (tears, sweat, phlegm)
  • Restlessness

These symptoms commonly begin about 6-12 hours after the last dose of heroin and can be expected to peak within the first three days of withdrawal. Typically, the symptoms begin to subside slowly after five to seven days of abstinence.

When quitting heroin, it is vitally important to seek medical support to assist with the acute withdrawal symptoms, which can be intimidatingly severe. In extreme cases, persons going through heroin withdrawal will experience hallucinations and feelings of terror; which means they may pose a danger to themselves and/or others if left unsupervised.

It is also essential to stay hydrated and nourish the body as it goes through withdrawal, which can be an overwhelming task when experiencing symptoms.

Medically assisted withdrawal guarantees a safe environment and may ease the pains of withdrawal considerably without putting the recovering addict at risk of misusing alternative medications. It also offers invaluable support in moments when the process seems too daunting and the cravings become overwhelming. Although a week of withdrawal may not sound like a long time, once in the thick of it, a person attempting to quit heroin will need all the support they can get.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a condition that may set in after the initial phase of withdrawal has subsided. PAWS is not limited to recovering heroin users, it is associated with the cessation of a number of drugs, and there is no clear indicator as to why some users are susceptible to PAWS while others manage to avoid it.

The symptoms of PAWS largely impact a recovering addict’s mental health and include:

  • Depression, sadness and anxiety
  • Irritability, aggression and hostility
  • Mood swings bordering on manic behaviour
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling restless
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of sex drive

However, some persons affected by PAWS may also experience chronic pains (i.e. joint pain, back pain, and headaches).

Unfortunately, there is no clear timeline for PAWS; it can last a few weeks post-acute withdrawal or stay with a recovering user for months.

However, there are many ways to assist a person in coping with the effect of PAWS; including cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. As with acute withdrawal, PAWS will be much easier to manage if a person is properly supported by medical and mental health professionals.

If you or a loved one need help to cope with heroin withdrawal and/or PAWS, do not hesitate to reach out. The Hader Clinic Queensland has a dedicated team of professionals who are ready to help you in any way they can.

Garreth’s Story of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Twenty-eight-year-old Garreth is clean and sober after completing residential addiction treatment for this drug and alcohol addiction. This is his story.

On day 17, I decided I didn’t want to continue, and left Hader Clinic Queensland. I called my Mum and told her I wanted to come home – but for the first time in my life, she told me she wasn’t going to help me. I was not welcome back. Mum said I had to stick it out or I was on my own. I didn’t want to hear this at the time. Hader Clinic staff had talked to my parents about boundaries and enabling. They have a family program to help parents deal with addicts and our disease, Mum was standing her ground. At the time I didn’t thank her for it, but now I do.

I had a spiritual awakening that weekend. I’d made friends with some people at the local Narcotics Anonymous fellowship (Hader Clinic was taking us to meetings every day). I didn’t have to be stuck in a hotel room with my own thoughts. I went to a meeting; someone dropped me home and offered to pick me up the next day. I offered to mow this guy’s lawn for him expecting nothing in return. Something had changed in me; with their encouragement, I went back to Hader Clinic.

I’d been missing for a few days. When I came back the nurses at the clinic were worried about me, but they could see that I had not drank or used drugs while I was AWOL. I was allowed back into the residential addiction treatment program to finish my 60 days. I’ve now been clean for almost four months. I am back at home with my parents, working and blessed to have the opportunity to interact with my brother’s kids along with forming a relationship with my baby son.

I want to say to any addicts out there – are you sick of what you’re doing yet? Because if you’re honestly 100% tired of what your life has become, you have options. But we addicts have to do this for ourselves. I have a son as my inspiration; my family’s support helped motivate me. Everybody who loves me wanted me to quit drinking and using drugs for years. I lost my partner, my job, and access to my boy because of my addiction. But we go to rehab and get clean through our own desire, nobody else’s. Only we can decide when enough is enough.

I won’t lie, this stuff is not always easy. You may have doubts. But it gets better very, very quickly. There are going to be times along the road when you’ll think you want your old life back. That you are in control. I’m telling you – do not listen to that voice in your head saying to turn back. It’s all lies.

Be careful with your recovery, because when addicts start feeling better, we can drop our guard a little bit and forget that addiction is a disease. We use our experience of Rehab and the 12-Step fellowship to keep one foot in reality.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, set small goals you can achieve to get positive feelings. The biggest one will be staying clean and sober one day at a time.

I promise you don’t have to keep living this way. I say this as a bloke who left Hader Clinic early, coming back and staying was the best decision I ever made. But I didn’t do it by listening to my head – I had to listen to others.

My name is Garreth I’m 28 years old. I spent my early years growing up in PNG with my Mum, Dad, and brother we moved to Australia for better education, and from an early age I always wanted to be a pilot. I sat in my first helicopter at 4 years old and from that time on nothing was going to stop me. I studied hard, and even with my ADHD, I was able to focus on what I wanted – flying those choppers. If I really wanted something, I would do anything to achieve it. I’d move mountains with a spoon if I had to. I was always a bit of a loner, just relying on my own willpower. I didn’t have many friends growing up or make close connections at my job. It didn’t feel like I needed anyone.

But no amount of self-determination could stop drugs and alcohol from ruining my life.

I started smoking weed around age 16. My brother was probably my only friend. I would drink in moderation at home but usually preferred to drink and smoke up alone. I was studying to be an aircraft engineer, at my 18th birthday party, I was drinking hard, and somebody drugged and assaulted me. After that, I started binge drinking regularly and built up a tolerance.

I would drink a 6 pack of beer every day after work, by age 20 I was finishing a bottle of spirits in one go. I’d put away litres of moonshine finishing my studies, it helped me focus. I’d sober up by Friday night, sleep all day Saturday, and be back on it by the start of the next week. I started using meth as well as drinking including bongs all the way until I graduated.

When I was 24, I got my pilot’s licence and started working in commercial aviation. We were drug tested in the job every month, but I had a system to beat it – I would time my using and stop for a while before the urine test, fill my body with Berocca and water, get past the screen (despite always having meth and cannabis in my system) and start again. Like I said – if I really wanted something I’d find a way to get it. At the time I wanted to keep my job and flying no matter what. I didn’t see what a dangerous game I was playing.

When I was at work, I was always a pretty honest person, even to the point of annoying my bosses. I saw myself as a hard worker, a straight talker… But being honest with myself was an issue. I couldn’t see the damage my addiction was doing until things got really bad.

I was working for a helicopter company distributing COVID vaccines and got my hands on some weed resulting in an encounter with the law. I called my boss who helped me out of the situation, but I lost my job, followed by 2 weeks in quarantine nearly drinking myself to death.

When Dad found out he and my partner gave me an ultimatum to go to rehab. My partner and I broke up when she was 3 months pregnant because I played up on her when I was on drugs, she’d had enough. I got clean for about 5 months – but that rehab didn’t have a 12 Step focus. I was spending all my time alone in my apartment. Soon I was back to drinking and using meth again.

I had no money and no food in the fridge. So, I tried to manage my addiction my own way. I switched to medical marijuana and scripts of dextroamphetamine. I had legal access to these drugs, but I was still abusing them. My mental health went to pieces very quickly. My now ex-partner had taken my son and moved to another state – I’d only seen him a couple of times. My relationship with my parents was on thin ice; they didn’t know what to do with me.

Every day was the same. After I had my first cone, for about 30 seconds I would feel ok. Then came a sudden attack of sadness. I missed my son, and I hated my life. After that, I felt intense anger, like I could burn the whole world down. I had to smoke more and more weed just to stop myself from smashing everything in my flat to pieces.

It got to the point where I was starting to get suicidal. I didn’t need an ultimatum anymore – that stuff never worked anyway. I told my ex-partner I wanted to be a part of my son’s life, and the only option was to try another rehab.  A GP recommended Hader Clinic Queensland, I was fortunate my parents were able to get me into their 60-day program.

When I look back on my time at Hader Clinic Queensland, the benefits have been immeasurable. They kept me accountable, introduced me to the 12 Steps, and helped me understand how to keep my commitments. If I didn’t show up for classes or didn’t do chores, I had to write an account of my actions and how they affected me and others. I was learning to value connections with others. Soon I was holding myself accountable for everything.

Mark – one of the staff at Hader Clinic – really believed in my progress and he helped set up a video call with my ex-partner and my son. I’m so grateful for that. I learned tools to set long-term goals – like the possibility of having a relationship with my boy. I know some fathers who are separated from their children, letting the resentment overtake them. But now through the 12 Steps, I have a way to manage my anger and focus on what I can do to improve my situation.

My Mum learned some hard truths while I was in rehab too. We have a healthy and more honest relationship now, and I’m back working for my Dad and slowly earning the family’s trust which means so much to me.

Today I still go to meetings, and I’m saving up for a fishing boat with my Dad. I’ve got friends and connections. I’m not controlled by my anger anymore. Other people’s behaviour doesn’t impact on my serenity, and I can keep walking the path. I have faith that things will get better.

Right now, I’m reading the 12 Rules For Life and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. I have a great sponsor and we go to the gym together. I can sleep through the night, wake up really early, and do a workout before I start my job, it sets me up for a great day.

I pray every morning. My parents bought me a Staffy pup – her name is Lilly, and she needs training and love, I feel very rewarded looking after her. I talk to my parents about my spending habits and staying financially accountable. I started a stamp collection, bought some decent rods, and got back into fishing. I look forward to being able to take my son out on the boat one day.

Hader Clinic Queensland was a really good drug and alcohol detox program. The things I learned there; you just can’t put a price on it. They taught me how to stay clean, but also how to create real value and a good future for myself. When I feel down, I’ve always got someone to call and keep my head straight. I know when to cut people out of my life if I think there is a risk I’ll relapse. I have too much to lose now to go back to that old life.

My dream is to get back to flying helicopters regularly again, I’ve never lost that urge – I wasn’t born to be wasted and miserable. I have a gift and I want to make the most of it. Being in the cockpit, not stoned or hungover… Just me and the sky, floating above the ocean, the earth laid out below me as far as I can see. There are no words to describe that feeling of flying. That’s what being clean is like. It’s pure freedom.

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