June 2023 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Fears in Recovery

The fears in recovery can be overwhelming for individuals seeking help with addiction.

From the fear of withdrawal symptoms to the fear of relapse, these concerns can hinder the progress of recovery. However, there are effective strategies to overcome these fears and achieve long-term sobriety.

Explore the top 10 fears in recovery and learn about proven ways to beat them.

Top 10 Fears in Recovery:

  1. Fear of withdrawal symptoms: Intense physical and psychological discomfort during detoxification.
  2. Fear of judgment: Stigmatisation or labelling as a “drug addict” by friends, family, or society.
  3. Fear of failure: Concerns about successfully completing the rehabilitation program and maintaining sobriety.
  4. Fear of change: Intimidation towards making significant lifestyle, routine, and social circle adjustments.
  5. Fear of losing control: Anxiety about surrendering control to a treatment program or therapist.
  6. Fear of facing emotions: Frightening and uncomfortable feelings associated with confronting and working through emotional issues.
  7. Fear of the unknown: Anxiety and uncertainty due to unfamiliar environments, therapies, and routines.
  8. Fear of isolation: Apprehension about being away from friends, family, and support networks.
  9. Fear of addressing underlying issues: Overwhelming emotions linked to facing deeper underlying issues like trauma or mental health disorders.
  10. Fear of relapse: Anxiety and uncertainty about the possibility of returning to old habits and facing the consequences.

Ways to Beat the Fears

The good news is that any fears you may experience once you are in recovery are completely normal.

Here are 10 proven coping strategies to help you overcome these fears  and enhance your overall recovery experience:

  • Taking it one day at a time: Focus on the present moment to alleviate anxiety.
  • Connecting with recovered addicts: Find inspiration and perspective through group therapy sessions and support meetings.
  • Communicating your fear: Share fears with counsellors, therapists, and the recovery community to release their power.
  • Reaching out to family and loved ones: Seek open communication and family support to overcome feelings of failure.
  • Taking a leap of faith: Embrace the safe environment provided by trained professionals for psychological recovery.
  • Giving yourself permission to be vulnerable: Allow honesty and vulnerability as part of the healing process.
  • Engaging with the program: Trust the process and professionals to regain a sense of control.
  • Trusting: Believe in the decision to seek help and have faith in the staff’s expertise.
  • Fine-tuning your support system: Maintain connections with support groups, counsellors, sponsors, and mentors for ongoing assistance.
  • Accepting the possibility of relapse: Understand that relapse does not equate to failure and access support to get back on track.

By acknowledging and addressing these fears, individuals in recovery can overcome them and find the support needed to achieve successful recovery.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation program offers comprehensive assistance and guidance throughout the recovery journey, providing the tools and support necessary to conquer these fears and thrive in recovery.

Patricia’s Story of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Patricia has been sober for 15 months after completing 28 days of residential addiction treatment for her alcohol addiction. This is her story of recovery.

My name is Patricia and I’m 58 years old. I’ve been sober for almost 15 months now. And since I started heavy drinking years ago this is the longest period I have ever spent without alcohol in my system.

I have lost over 30kg just in the last 10 months. Before I checked myself into Hader Clinic Queensland for 28 nights of alcohol rehabilitation treatment, I had lived for years as a chronic alcoholic but it wasn’t even obvious to my family or colleagues that I had a serious problem.

I think of myself as a kind of “Plain Jane” alcoholic. My story doesn’t involve any DUIs, hospitalisations, violence, or episodes of blacking out. But in late 2021, I’d come to a point in my life where I realised I could not control my drinking. Even when I wanted to stop, I found it impossible to cut down.

I had gone from a woman who barely drank for most of her life, to putting away a couple of bottles of wine a day (and sometimes spirits too, if they were on special). On the weekends I might start the day off by drinking tea, then switch to alcohol, and pass out exhausted sometime in the afternoon. I would wake up around dinner time, tell myself I wasn’t going to have anymore, but then pick up the bottle again.

My addiction to alcohol seemed to creep up later in life. I married young and by age 22 was settled in with two kids and a mortgage. My husband might have had a couple of drinks on the weekends socially, but I barely touched the stuff.

When my kids were growing up I was very much anti-smoking and anti-drinking. I don’t like peer pressure and wasn’t strongly compelled to join our friends when they drank. The effort of raising the kids and working as a Registered Nurse kept me busy. But one divorce and one long-term relationship later, my genetics caught up with me.

Addiction was rampant in my family. I think that’s why for decades I avoided substances – growing up in a family of violent alcoholics will do that to you. As a kid, I remember cowering under our kitchen table when my father and uncles got stuck into each other during boozing sessions. My mum was a chain smoker more than a drinker. But when she did have a couple of drinks, she would turn argumentative and start baiting my father, and he would hit her.

Mum always said she would die with a cigarette in her hand, and my father would die with a drink in his. And my mother did eventually die of emphysema. Dad realised he had a problem a few years ago and has cut back on his alcohol intake, but he’s never stopped completely. I think I’m the only person in my family who’s managed to go completely dry after living as an alcoholic.

After my divorce, for most of my 40s, I was in a long-term relationship with a woman I loved dearly. My two sons had grown up, and I moved in with her into a big house we shared with four other people. For those years my world was very different. I started a life of socialising and drinking.

Our home was the party hub for our group of friends, and my partner was always at the centre of that crowd. Our friends would stay over for the whole weekend drinking and taking drugs. The partying would start most Friday nights and keep going until Monday morning. I was known as the Hostess With The Mostest – topping up everybody’s drinks and providing food for everyone.

Alcohol was part of the fun and interesting lifestyle we had together, but it soon made things difficult for me and my partner. I would get verbally abusive with her when I drank. I spent years after we broke up feeling guilty about it and feeling lost without her. I kept in contact with some of her friends afterwards, but it wasn’t the same. My relationship with my ex had become part of my identity and my drinking habit continued after we separated.

Since giving up nursing, I worked in a medical supply chain role. Some of our employees had ‘obvious’ drinking problems. As the line manager, I was the one in charge of sending someone home if they showed up inebriated (eg: with slurred speech or brain fog) but nobody knew the person making these decisions was a high-functioning alcoholic herself.

I was great at my job, and never had any performance issues (apart from taking some time off when I broke up with my partner). I never seemed drunk or hungover, but perhaps that’s because I’d built up a tolerance.

I would plan my life around my drinking, ensuring I had enough to sustain me during the week. And I put effort into hiding my alcohol consumption from everybody, even strangers. I used to visit many different bottle shops so that none of the staff would see me come in regularly.

I could spend a weekend with my aunt (who is a religious non-drinker) and managed to restrict myself to only a couple of glasses. She had no idea I was an alcoholic. One of my sons has three kids of his own. I would drink before visiting him and the grandkids, stay dry for the whole day, and then start drinking the moment I came home. It was my priority to keep my family in the dark.

I was made redundant in 2021 due to restructuring after COVID. All the other available roles were physically more demanding, or at a lower wage. So, I took a few months off and lived on my redundancy payment. It was then that I began to drink every morning, not just in the evenings.

Without work to distract me, I was living a very isolated life with drinking as my only companion. I was living on my own in a unit. I had put on a lot of weight and my blood pressure was terrible. I remember my doctor saying that my knee pain would never get better unless I lost weight. But addressing those issues was impossible while I was an alcoholic.

Around Christmas 2021 I went to Melbourne to see my dad. I announced to him and to both my sons that I was entering rehab. I decided on Hader Clinic Queensland because the admission process was very easy and I knew that I needed to have a proper break from my normal life to get any hope of staying dry.

My family was very understanding. One of my sons drove me to Hader Clinic Queensland. We had a very open discussion. I think he understood I must be needing help very badly if I was going into treatment.

My first two weeks in Hader Clinic Queensland were in the detox unit, and I found the nursing staff very helpful. I used to be a nurse myself and I believe their staff did a wonderful job. I contracted COVID halfway through my stay and had to go home to self-isolate for a fortnight. But I managed to spend those two weeks completely sober, which is the first stint I’ve had without a drink and by myself for many years. I came back to complete my treatment with much more confidence about sticking to sobriety.

We got up around 7.30, had assembly check, breakfast, a fifteen-minute walk and then commenced our classes. We read the daily reflections from 12 Step Literature, and they asked us all how we felt about it. Some days were better than others, it was not always easy. I still preferred my own company but was willing to try and make connections there.

I related to some of the readings we did, even though I’m not a spiritual person. I learned I have an addictive personality. That my thinking patterns contribute to my problem with alcohol. I felt better in tune with who I am. I accepted my alcoholism is a disease.

Being away from my normal environment made a huge difference for me. What made me stay was a genuine desire to stop drinking. My doctors told me I had to reduce my weight, and my health was failing in other ways. I was sick of the endless routine, the repetitive lonely cycle of alcoholism. I had often wondered why I was drinking when it didn’t bring me any joy. It was always a compulsion and I used it as a crutch.

I organised a trivia night with a couple of the friends I made in Hader Clinic Queensland. We were all there for a common goal and had similar experiences. After I left I have not touched alcohol again which I feel – along with the weight loss – is my biggest achievement. I’m not putting away all the calories in booze and junk food while I was drunk. And my blood pressure is down to a manageable level.

I sleep much better now and don’t have afternoon naps like I used to. I believe my body was just exhausted by processing all that alcohol so it’s nice to have more energy.

After I left rehab, I called my ex-partner and managed to make amends for what I said and did during our time together. For the first time 6 years, I was able to get some closure on that relationship.

I have a new job now in a similar field, so I’m still learning new things and figuring out what I want to be. I have to pay attention a lot more than before and that’s a lot easier with an alcohol-free brain. I’ve always been a very outspoken person but since I’ve stopped drinking I’ve learned to have a filter. And I can now think before I act.

My younger son and his three kids are in my life much more now, we are mending that bridge. I can be closer to the grandkids and more emotionally connected. I didn’t really communicate much before I got sober, raising my kids to be independent and not having much closeness with my loved ones.

Now my sons and I have a better relationship. They actively want me to spend time with them and be a part of their lives. I still live alone but I’m not isolated the way I was when drinking was my whole world. After work, I usually have dinner with the family a couple of times a week. I spend weekends with my grandkids and during the footy season, I love seeing my eldest grandson play his games.

I still do the daily readings and have not had the urge to drink. The decision to enter rehab and get sober has improved my life in so many ways. There is more to look forward to now that I am not drinking to regulate my feelings and give my life meaning. I’m getting closer to who I want to be, one day at a time.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed for her privacy.

Leonard’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery Story

Leonard has recently completed residential addiction treatment for his alcohol addiction. This is his story.

When I came back to work after completing my 60 days at Hader Clinic Queensland for alcohol addiction treatment, a couple of my colleagues asked “how was your holiday”? There were also rumours I’d had a heart attack. But I told them the facts – I’d been to rehab because my drinking was out of control.

I’m not afraid to disclose my condition. I manage a large team, and having an understanding of substance abuse allows me to contribute more in the workplace. Both at a company level (such as HR policies) and a personal level (co-workers whose relatives struggle with addiction have confided in me).

My patience and empathy have expanded. I deal with conflict in a patient manner now – in the past, I internalised those feelings with drinking and self-harm.

My heart is at the front of everything I do. I’m looking forward to being able to guide others in their recovery. Inside I am a caring man, and I always feel good looking after people.  I’m happy, healthy, and sober. A complete turnaround from where I was – depressed, and always drunk.

I have type 2 diabetes and since I left rehab my insulin is down 75%, which is a miracle. But that’s only the physical improvement. Hader Clinic Queensland helped me feel mentally and emotionally whole again.

My name is Leonard. I’m 50 years old. I’m a Production Manager, a husband, a father of five, a grandfather… and an alcoholic. That last part of my identity almost destroyed the rest.

Before I went into treatment, I was putting away at least 16, maybe up to 24, pre-mixed bourbons every day. I tried booze-blocker pills, but they didn’t work. I’d been in and out of the psych ward for suicidal depressive episodes and received electro-shock treatment, and while that did help the depression I continued to drink.

Not even the pain I could see this inflicting on my family was enough to stop me. In the lead-up to my admission to Hader Clinic Queensland in February 2023, my wife was crying nearly every day. She didn’t feel comfortable leaving me at home to supervise our 12-year-old daughter by myself.

I was a full-time single Dad to the children from my first marriage. They’re all adults now. Raising a family came naturally to me. But now I was drinking so much that my wife couldn’t trust me to look after our kid, and that really hurt.

My wife had taken over control of our joint account to try and curb my drinking. I found ways around it, like lying to her about how much money I needed for groceries or petrol and spending the money on alcohol.

We had separated for about a month because my wife couldn’t handle my behaviour. She was shocked when she found out that I’d stolen money from our daughter’s wallet to buy alcohol. I was out of control and my mental health was getting worse.

I grew up in New Zealand and I was a dad from a fairly young age. I met my first wife when I was still in school, and we had three children together. I was always reliable at work; I’d been working for my parents since I was 8 and had my own job at age 14. I used to smoke a lot of weed in between my daily responsibilities.

When I moved to Australia with my kids around age 30, I stopped using pot daily because the drug testing policies for my industry were pretty tough over here. So, I switched to alcohol instead.

The binge drinking started around 2007 when my first wife and I separated. She moved out and I cared for our 2 teenage sons and pre-teenage daughter. My wife’s younger brother was around the same age as my kids, and he also moved in with us. Somehow, I kept up a household of all these kids by myself, and a full-time job. I was able to lean into the challenges, even as my drinking escalated.

As the boys got older and started drinking with their friends – though it wasn’t very often – I had all these young fellas at my house teaching them “how to drink”. I’d pass water around and look after them, play drinking games, and be a kind of Party Mentor.

I felt very connected and valued. I was in a fog, but it was a happy fog. I’d be the last one to fall asleep but also the first one to get up, make everybody breakfast, and ensure they got to work and school on time.

I met my second wife in my late 30s and we quickly fell in love and had a daughter together.  I don’t think either of us could have prepared for what was to come. I used to abstain from drinking during the work week and just get hammered on the weekends, but it soon became a daily ritual.

My wife and I tried everything. I told her I would try AA meetings, and I got drunk on the way there and back, then just stop going. When I was committed to the psych ward, I would be sober for a few weeks on release, but always start drinking again. I still had a job, but I was making excuses to leave early and run to the bottle shop. And I was drunk nearly every day when I was working from home during Covid.

I went to see a GP who suggested I try Hader Clinic Queensland, because nothing else was working. I was able to use our medical insurance to cover the first 29 days of detox, and my admission date was set for late March 2023. I timed it so I could go straight into treatment after my son’s wedding in February.

Well, I never made it to that wedding. I attended my son’s bucks party where everybody was drinking manageably and having fun with each other… and I spent most of that night sitting out the back by myself, getting extremely pissed. I thought it might be like the old days when they were kids and we partied together. But the reality was I was alone with my alcoholism.

After that night I told my wife I needed Hader Clinic Queensland right away. I was drink driving every day as soon as the bottle shop opened, regularly missing days at work. At this stage my wife was giving me a small daily allowance for alcohol until I got into rehab, but I was burning through that pretty quickly. I told her the metho in the back shed was starting to look tempting.

I called Hader Clinic Queensland in desperation, and said “I can’t do this anymore”. I felt like any further delays would cost me my life. I wasn’t sleeping or showering. I had daily thoughts of moving out bush and drinking myself to death.

The staff I spoke to took me seriously. Hader Clinic Queensland did everything it could to move my admission forward, and I was lucky that it happened. I had to miss my son’s wedding, my daughter’s 12th birthday, and the birth of my third grandchild. But it was necessary to save my life.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s 60-day program was intense but comforting and exactly what I needed. The first month of supervised detox helped me get off the booze safely and the staff got straight into educating me on the nature of my disease.

I’ve been to many counsellors and psychologists over the years because of my mental health issues. I can honestly say the counsellors at Hader Clinic Queensland were the best I ever met in my life. We had many sessions, which is helpful because I got to dig into who I really am and what is underneath my drinking.

Rehab is where I learned what I needed to treat the underlying causes of my alcoholism, not just try to control the drinking. I got introduced to the 12 Steps and I still go to meetings today. I had wonderful experiences with the staff who told me I can have a new life and use my experience to help others.

I am 86 days clean and sober today and each day I find something new to be grateful for. There are so many little things. Hader Clinic Queensland taught me to value healthy routines, so I have a good system now for laundry, cooking, brushing my teeth a few times a day, going to the gym every morning, and making my bed. I’m not hungover and sleeping half the day.

I’ve reduced my medication and have a clearer head. I look forward to building a bond with my new grandson. I also have an older grandson who I never spent much time with when I was a hopeless drunk. I’m very keen to take him fishing. And I get to be a present dad to my youngest daughter without a foggy brain.

I’ve begun to rebuild things with my wife, although it’s early days. I’m not bothered by her questions or keeping track of my movements and spending. I have nothing to hide anymore. We’re having another chance at love and marriage.

The other day my wife and I were walking and holding hands. We used to do that all the time at the beginning of our relationship. It’s only something we started again recently.

My wife suddenly apologised to me. She said we’d walked past a bottle shop, and she didn’t mean to take us along this route in case it was difficult for me. But I hadn’t even noticed. I was just so happy to be holding her hand.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed for their privacy.

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