July 2023 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Larisa’s Story of Addiction Recovery

Larisa recently completed the 29-day residential addiction treatment for her addiction. This is her story.

My addiction started when I had my first child in the middle of the COVID pandemic. It took much convincing from my husband and his family for me to seek out residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.

As any woman would know, having a child can be a very isolating experience, but in addition I had the pandemic and was in a different state to our extended families. I had a very traumatic birth that ended in an emergency c-section, and I have since been diagnosed with PTSD from the experience.

I used to take prescription opioids for back pain and period pain when you could just get them over the counter and never seemed to have a problem with them. It wasn’t until the traumatic birth of my first child that my addiction really started. My cycle of addiction started with opioids when I was prescribed them after the birth of my son as I was in a lot of pain. I was taking them for a while until the physical pain subsided, and when I stopped taking them I realised that they were making me feel better in other ways.

I quite liked the feeling the opioids were giving me but managed not to take them for a while because I was breastfeeding, and I didn’t want to keep taking them. However, once my son weaned it felt like I could do what I wanted. I remembered the feeling they gave me and as I was stressed from other things and going back to work I started seeking them out again.

This was when they changed the laws around over-the-counter medicines and you needed a prescription, so I started doctor shopping. I was doctor shopping to be able to get more and more prescriptions and I was in denial for a long time as even though I needed them for my back pain, I didn’t need as much as I was taking. I kept saying I didn’t have a problem which made the doctor shopping last as long as it did since I was justifying to myself that I actually needed them.

My husband and I were living in Queensland and when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression we made the decision to move back to South Australia to be close to our families. We thought this would be helpful as we would have more support from our loved ones. It was a stressful time moving, but I thought it would help overall, unfortunately, I just got more and more stressed with family drama and other things.

What took me down a really bad road was the fact that my mother-in-law and father both had chronic illnesses with basically an infinite supply of opiates. For example, my mother-in-law was being prescribed 180 Panadeine Forte at a time and I knew exactly where they were kept. I started to get really clever with sneaking a few pills out of my mother-in-law’s room, and then from my father’s prescribed opiates as well.

While I was doing that I was constantly saying to myself how it was wrong and wasn’t like me. I’ve always been a very honest person, but it was like I completely lost control of what I was doing and just couldn’t stop.

Eventually, my mother-in-law realised that a lot of her tablets had suddenly gone missing, and my brother-in-law figured out it was me. They staged a family intervention with my husband, and I went to the doctor and planned to detox without going through opioid withdrawal. I was doing well for maybe a week or two and then I changed to alcohol instead.

Everyone kept telling me that I shouldn’t drink alcohol because I would just replace the opioids with the alcohol, but I convinced myself that I wouldn’t and that I would be fine. There were a few family gatherings where I’d only drink a few glasses but within a month it turned into buying bottles of vodka and hiding them from my husband. It was the addict side of me taking over again as I knew I couldn’t get the opioids anymore, so I turned to alcohol instead.

I was a high-functioning addict because I was still able to work and do most things during this time. I did feel unwell a lot of the time, but I hid it well as I was never throwing up or anything like that, I would just get up and have another shot to get through the rest of the day. I’m not sure how I was still able to function, but I did.

Eventually, I hit rock bottom, I kept blacking out and my husband noticed so he found Hader Clinic Queensland and convinced me to go. At first, I kept saying I didn’t want to go to rehab and that it would be too hard to stay away from my son.

I remember going to my mother-in-law’s house and she was talking about it and then my brother-in-law turned up as well and was bringing it up, saying that they didn’t think I had a choice and that I couldn’t do it alone and it would be helpful. It took a lot of convincing as I thought I could beat addiction myself even though I clearly couldn’t.

Eventually, I gave in and said I’ll go up for Hader Clinic Queensland’s 29-day program. There were a lot of tears, but I was worried that if I didn’t do it my family wouldn’t trust me again, so I made it up there.

I learnt a lot about myself at Hader Clinic Queensland and having those four weeks to focus on myself was really great. I think everyone should do it for themselves, even just for their own mental health.

It was great having the sessions with the Psychologist and Psychiatrist, the classes and just talking to everyone else in the community as well. I learnt a lot about what led me to use substances in the first place, it wasn’t just something that happened, there was a reason why I needed them to make myself feel better.

The residential addiction treatment really helped me deal with the underlying issues of my addiction, like the trauma from the birth of my son that I haven’t appropriately processed, so now I’m doing therapy for that. I was also diagnosed with OCD which has also helped because I’m getting on top of that. I learnt so much about addiction, the disease and how it works and that I’m not alone in it, and the support and going to meetings as well.

I never thought I would go to meetings as I didn’t know what they were except what you see on movies or on tv shows, but since my alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, I’ve been going to meetings daily. It’s nice to be able to share how I’m feeling and be the most honest I can be with no judgement. It’s also good to hear others’ stories as they can be really motivating.

It’s been challenging as it’s definitely easier in the clinic, but the main thing I am doing is going to meetings and I’ve managed to find a sponsor who will help me progress through the steps. I’ve also been really honest with my husband and trying to keep myself as accountable as I can.

The biggest impact my addiction has had is on my relationships due to the lying and stealing, which was not like me at all. Everyone trusted me, even when things were missing I was the last person they would suspect, so my addiction has really impacted that trust.

My family is still walking on eggshells a bit but I’m hopeful that I’m getting there. They’re all really supportive and they’ve been telling me that it’s great to have ‘me’ back. I’ve been with my husband for 11 years, so his family knows me very well, and it’s been really rewarding having them make those comments that I’m like myself again because I felt like I completely lost who I was before going to Hader Clinic Queensland.

Lastly, I want to tell anyone that is struggling with addiction, is thinking about going to rehab, or is trying to be talked into going like I was, it’s so much more rewarding than what you could imagine. It was nothing like I expected, and it was so beneficial to have that time away from work, away from any triggers to just focus on myself and get myself together, recover and make some connections with people. It was such a rewarding experience and it’s not something to be scared of, there’s nothing really bad that can come out of going. It’s worth it in the long run. My husband said to me before I went because I was worried about being away from my son for such a long time – it’s a month or it could be the rest of your life, and I think that’s something that is really valuable.

Natalie’s Story of Meth Addiction Recovery

Natalie completed residential addiction treatment for her ice addiction. Now, over 10 months clean, she is ready to take on a change of career to help others and give her children the childhood she never had. This is her story.

My name is Natalie, I’m 32 years old, and I am 10 months clean and counting. I completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s 90 Day program for methamphetamine addiction treatment and now live with my partner and our two children, being the stable and healthy person I never thought I could be.

Now that I am clean I am finally able to deal with the underlying mental health issues I’ve had since I was a child (I was sexually abused, neglected, groomed, and introduced to substances at an age when most girls are still playing with dolls). I never really had a childhood. And if I had not received intervention from Hader Clinic staff and the NA twelve steps, I would not have had an adulthood. I’ve grown up in recovery.

Before I went into treatment I was broken – physically and mentally. In 2020 after a bad breakup (and still unable to manage my trauma and substance abuse) I tried to throw myself off the Story Bridge. My ankle shattered from the impact when police pulled me down. I was taken to the hospital in handcuffs in a paddy wagon.

Meth was my drug of choice. I’ve been a chef all my life, and it was sometimes useful to abuse stimulants in such a high-pressure job and work long hours, but I couldn’t be in the kitchen on a broken ankle.

While I was off work I wasn’t using ice, but I developed an addiction to alcohol and pain medication. I abused opioids even when I was able to walk again. My doctor soon figured out what was going on and took me off the pills. After this I increased my drinking to about 5 or 6 bottles of wine a day, doing 12-hour shifts and staying up til 4 am. Working helped distract me from my mental pain, but I was still in active addiction.

Part of the reason I went to Hader Clinic Queensland was that my substance use wasn’t just impacting my mental health – my body was being attacked as well. In 2021 I was drinking for a whole day, fell into a pool and had a concussion for 3 months. I was still working despite the constant headaches and vertigo. In early 2022 I had a drunken bicycle accident that gave me internal injuries.

My doctor had a frank discussion with me about the cause of these injuries. He suggested Hader Clinic Queensland because he’d heard good things. A few days later when I was up late drinking, I Googled the place and sent them a message. They called me back the next day and I started the intake process.

I had a new partner of 18 months at this point. She has two young children who I raise as my own. She is supportive, but we still had so much conflict over my drinking. Our relationship started to resemble other toxic, codependent romances from my past. I had too much to lose now and didn’t want to continue the same cycle.

My partner was ready for me to get well, and she arranged for my super release so I could continue after detox and complete the whole 90-day program. I was drinking every day in the lead-up to admission. Part of me wanted to keep putting it off, as I wasn’t sure what my life would look like sober. I had half-heartedly attempted other rehabs and never finished them.

When it came time for me to go into treatment, Hader Clinic Queensland staff were able to help my partner as well. They referred her to services where she could get help for her own co-dependency. There was a focus on helping families of addicts, not just the person in treatment.

I came from a broken family. My parents split up when I was young. I’m pretty sure my mum has been an addict most of her life. As a child she gave me and her other kids pills to help us sleep. By around age 10, she was offering me alcohol to look after my siblings while she disappeared for days at a time. Dad wasn’t around. I was being sexually abused by multiple male relatives, and telling my mum didn’t change anything.

My older brother who I was close to and who protected me was taken into foster care. I was smoking weed in high school and quietly abusing Ritalin to deal with the constant feeling of abandonment and my home life.

I found I would get completely psycho when I ran out of the stimulant pills and often experienced suicidal ideation. These symptoms only got worse as I got older, and my drug use progressed. I learned how to act “normal” when I was high to keep my habits private.

I did party drugs in my teens and early twenties (acid and ecstasy, as well as weed and alcohol) but whatever I used was always to excess. I met my now ex-wife when I was starting in hospitality, and by age 22 I was using meth. From the first time I tried ice, I knew I loved it. This drug seemed to make all my worries vanish and I felt invincible. I was shooting up 10 times a day at my chef job.

My wife was anti-drug and had no idea I was doing any of this. I made up stories about where my money was going. Eventually, I had a breakdown which resulted in our marriage ending. I was hospitalised for multiple suicide attempts, dosed with Seroquel for a while, and then started using ice again upon my release.

After the divorce, I had no friends except other drug addicts. I worked for 80 hours a week and came home to a mattress and a sofa because I’d sold everything else. I would have bouts of psychosis where I thought people were trying to kill me. A lot of this was internal, I didn’t tell many people about what went on inside my head.

I started another long-term relationship, moved cities, and started a new job. For the first 6 months, everything was great, and I wasn’t using drugs. But then I fell in with the old crowd I knew in that town and the meth habit started again. Like last time, it was in secret. I started mixing it with Fantasy and this caused memory blackouts at my work.

My partner and I moved around a few times. I had regular breaks of just drinking and trying to have a normal life. The disease never went away. When I started using ice again I was sneaking out while my partner was asleep to get on. Once I disappeared for half a day and gave some excuse about seeing friends – but I was really in hospital getting an abscess treated.

It came apart when my partner found messages on my iPad showing I was trying to score meth. She confronted me and I still lied, telling her I flushed the drugs and never took them. We both worked at the same restaurant, and she told my boss. I eventually lost my job, and my partner asked to separate.

By the time I ended up in Brisbane on that bridge, I was done with the drama, but still in denial. I had been living with my ex during COVID – knowing we would never reconcile, but afraid to leave her and be all by myself.

When I got into Hader Clinic Queensland I was able to confront this issue – my fear of being alone, the childhood trauma, and the drugs I was using to avoid facing it. I formed a great relationship with the rehab counsellor, Sally. She was always available for support. During our sessions, I learned to feel my feelings and not try to control them or be controlled by them.

The biggest benefit to my time in treatment was learning emotional regulation. I had the urge to self-harm while I was in rehab, but I was transparent about it with the staff and they helped me get out of that headspace. I did daily readings with the other residents, and we talked about them as a group. It helped me reflect on past behaviours.

I took on every suggestion. I wanted to use everything Hader Clinic Queensland had to offer me – the classes, journalling, step work, meetings, meditation and yoga, and morning walks. This routine settled me down. After a lifetime of insomnia, I learned how to put my body into a restful sleep.

I kept these habits when I left rehab – walking to work, doing gratitude lists, and meditating on the bus. I no longer need sleeping meds to get rest at night. And I’ve lost 36kg in the last 8 months. I can re-centre myself and slow down those racing thoughts. And I can work in a licensed venue and not have the urge to drink. I still attend meetings and use my sponsor.

The biggest change and benefit has been my relationship with my family and partner. When I come home, I have a clear head and I’m ready to be present for her and for our kids. We have an affectionate relationship with lots of hugs. We can afford to do activities for the children like gymnastics, because we’re not wasting money drinking.

I’ve decided I’m ready to leave hospitality. I’m a great chef, but I think I’d make a good paramedic because I can deal with high-pressure situations and people in distress. I’ve been there myself. I know I can be of service to others.

My advice for anybody struggling with addiction is to not delay going to rehab. I put it off for years and sat in a place of pain when I didn’t need to. Help is out there if we really want it. We will be welcomed into the clinic and into meetings with open arms. Whatever our past, or how long we have been addicted, we do recover.

I never thought I’d be able to raise a healthy child. My upbringing was so terrible. I had no blueprint for being a good mum. I was afraid to have children because I felt I’d pass on my issues. But our kids are thriving. We cook together, do homework, learn about the world, and talk about our feelings. I get to give them the kind of childhood I never had.

The name and image of this person have been changed to protect their privacy.

Bec’s Story of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Bec is 170 days sober after completing 90-day residential addiction treatment for her alcohol addiction. This is her story.

My name is Bec, and I am grateful to say that I have been sober for one hundred and seventy days and counting. Thanks to the ninety-day alcohol addiction treatment I received at Hader Clinic Queensland on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, I have been able to reclaim my life from alcohol addiction. However, for twenty-three years, I lived a vastly different existence, one that not even those closest to me had a single suspicion of.

On paper, my world looked perfect. Semi-retired at thirty-eight, married, a great circle of friends, a beautiful house, and a car. But behind closed doors, I spent my afternoons alone on the couch, lost in the grips of addiction, drinking until the next day. This was the harsh reality that nobody knew.

Until I went to Hader Clinic Queensland, I had no inkling that I was a blackout drunk. For twenty-three years, I religiously consumed a bottle of wine every day, and after ten of those years, two. Yet I was completely ignorant of my disease, along with the people in my close circle. To be honest, I think I knew for fifteen of those years that I had a problem, but my denial was strong. I was still active, I ran five kilometres every morning and managed my own business – in terms of life, I was on fire! There were people out there way worse than me – I was ‘functional’!

The truth is, my addiction was slowly killing me. Though I presented a carefully crafted image to the world, inside, I was dying.

Every day, the world saw the successful career woman, happily married with a vibrant social life, a lover of adventure and spontaneity. They had no idea that as soon as the workday ended, I would retreat to my home, craving the solace of my couch and a bottle of alcohol. Society’s perception of me checked out, while the real me indulged in alcohol, losing consciousness, and repeating the same destructive cycle day after day.

I struggle to pinpoint the exact moment my addiction took hold or what triggered it. Growing up in the countryside with traditional parents, I was exposed to drinking as part of Australian culture, but it never reached excessive levels during my teenage years. Yet somewhere along the way, my relationship with alcohol transformed into an all-consuming daily ritual, dictating my entire existence.

Alcohol had a numbing effect on me. It provided an escape from my thoughts, feelings, and stresses. It became intertwined with every aspect of my life. Going out for a meal, celebrating birthdays, after-work catch-ups – alcohol was always involved. Simple activities like ten-pin bowling required finding a venue with a bar – I wouldn’t attend any event unless alcohol was present. Society readily accepted my drinking without question, making it the only drug I didn’t have to justify consuming.

Occasionally, my husband would express concern about my excessive spending on alcohol, but my friends and family remained oblivious to the extent of my addiction. I didn’t fit the stereotypical image of an alcoholic portrayed in the media. Financially, I could afford my addiction, and I maintained the illusion of functionality. This only fuelled my denial further.

Around seven years ago, my partner and I sold our business, which removed the need to justify missed appointments or manipulate others to maintain my façade of normalcy. This newfound freedom seemed like a green light to indulge in alcohol without restraint. As a childfree woman in addiction, I sometimes wonder if motherhood would have acted as a barrier to my drinking, with responsibilities and daily routines interrupting my ‘medicine.’ But in my independent and financially stable state, nothing seemed capable of stopping me.

In the end, my decision to seek help was driven by several factors. Drinking was no longer a source of fun as it had been in my younger years. Instead, I turned to alcohol to escape from my thoughts, feelings, and anxiety. I vividly remember my anxiety being so overwhelming that I questioned why the medication I was taking had no effect. Little did I know, it was the alcohol itself that was fuelling my anxiety, rendering the medication ineffective.

Once upon a time, I was a vibrant and buoyant person, full of zest for life. However, that version of me had faded away. I no longer desired social interaction or any activities that once brought me joy. In the end, I reached a point where I didn’t even want to exist on this planet anymore. The drinking and isolation had consumed me. The alcohol had lost its magic; it no longer provided the escape I sought.

My journey to recovery began when I completed the ninety-day Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. Today, five months sober, I am filled with gratitude for the vibrant life I now embrace. This is my story of recovery from addiction, a testament to the strength and resilience I discovered I was indeed capable of, thanks to the split-second courage I found one otherwise typical Sunday evening.

In a stroke of fate, two events converged and played a pivotal role in my choice that day. First, a close friend of a friend shared their own experience at Hader Clinic Queensland. They spoke passionately about the transformative journey and newfound happiness they had discovered. My friend would excitedly tell me of her journey and amazing transformation; they painted the clinic as an incredible place. Deep down, I knew that if I ever decided to seek help, that would be my destination.

The second event was a spontaneous decision to spend two months in Bali. While I continued to drink during my time there, living among Balinese families exposed me to a different way of life. The simplicity and serenity of their existence left a profound impact on me. I observed that their happiness didn’t rely on alcohol or material possessions. This realisation planted a seed of hope within me. Perhaps there were alternative paths I could explore. Maybe my life story didn’t have to be one written in the ink of alcoholic-fuelled pain; perhaps a different way of life was possible for me also.

It was on a Sunday afternoon, shortly after returning from Bali, that I mustered the courage to search for Hader Clinic Queensland on Google and make that life-changing call. The experience was nothing short of incredible. After leaving a voicemail, I received a prompt response the following day. Initially, they informed me that they couldn’t accommodate me until the following week. However, I expressed my fear that postponing my intake might cause me to lose the courage to try again. The compassionate staff at Hader Clinic Queensland understood my concerns and rearranged my admission to that very Wednesday. Their unwavering support touched me deeply.

Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life—there’s no exaggeration in that statement. As I walked through their doors, I had no idea what to expect. But the ninety-day program transformed me from the inside out. It wasn’t just about overcoming addiction; it was about gaining a new perspective on life. The impact on my outlook has been profound – I find myself radiating with happiness.

The staff at Hader Clinic Queensland were nothing short of amazing. Being educated by individuals who had personally battled addiction was an invaluable aspect of my recovery journey. Mark inspired me immensely with his unparalleled ability to connect with others. His classes were captivating, and he genuinely wanted everyone to succeed. Prue, Wade, Riri, Jason and Maria – truly, every staff member I encountered was approachable and willing to lend an ear at any time. Even the nurses in the detoxification unit provided the most comforting hugs, making me feel safe and loved, regardless of my age. I had the opportunity to engage in counselling for the first time with Sally, and I can’t help but wish I had utilised such an incredible resource much earlier in life.

Hader Clinic Queensland has been a transformative and life-saving experience for me. Through their unwavering support and guidance, I have emerged a different person—grateful, enlightened, and filled with newfound happiness. I firmly believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing, regardless of whether they are battling addiction or not. Hader Clinic Queensland has gifted me with a fresh perspective on life, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Life since leaving Hader Clinic Queensland has been an incredible revelation, like being reborn into a world filled with hope and possibilities. Each day, I wake up with the privilege of watching the sunrise, free from lies and shame, and no longer burdened by a secret life. I have learned so much about this disease, and have so much understanding and compassion for those around me now. Gone are the days I would have zero tolerance for the world around me. The Bec of today makes excuses for people’s bad behaviour – I would have been the longest to honk my horn in frustration once upon a time!

One vital lesson I learned is that if you suspect you have a problem, then you most likely do. The solution exists, and it’s possible to turn your life around. It took just one drink to unravel everything, and I experienced the devastating consequences firsthand. Another is understanding how much I truly mean to my friends. I always knew how much my friends meant to me, but never how much I meant to them. I don’t think we addicts really understand that we are loved – it’s hard when you don’t think that highly of yourself.

I went to Hader Clinic Queensland an alcoholic, and I left an alcoholic. Today I know that I can arrest this disease’s hold on my life, one day at a time. No longer do I hide from the world, alone in my room, trying to control every single aspect of my life. No longer do I look for my feelings’ off switch at the bottom of a bottle.

Maintaining my sobriety since leaving the Clinic is also manageable, thanks to the ongoing guidance from Hader Clinic Queensland. For one, taking care of my physical health has become a priority. I still see the nutritionist from my time there – she has been invaluable. Additionally, the introduction to the 12-step fellowship remains an integral part of my journey. Attending regular meetings provides me with strength and support, reinforcing the principles that guide my recovery. The Hader aftercare app also plays a significant role, offering tools and resources to enhance my ongoing efforts. It’s remarkable to think that the person who spent twenty-three years numbing herself on a couch now leads a life so fulfilling that I haven’t even had the opportunity to fully utilise these resources.

Hader Clinic Queensland has truly changed my life, equipping me with the tools, knowledge, and support needed to overcome my addiction and embrace a brighter future. While my recovery journey continues, each day brings renewed strength and a deep appreciation for the life I have reclaimed. I am forever grateful to the compassionate staff, whose unwavering dedication to my well-being has made all the difference.

For those like me, who are suffering like I once did – you are not alone. Nor do you have to overcome this alone. This disease incessantly lies. It promises us the world, yet instead delivers a colourless Groundhog Day type of existence. Much like an undiagnosed cancer, its progression is disastrous and can be fatal. If my story can inspire just one person to seek help and embark on their own journey of recovery, I would be eternally thankful.

I hope, like me, that you embark upon that different path. That you take that chance and make that call. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes. Today, thanks to the ninety-day alcohol addiction treatment I attended, my life has become a colourful landscape. It is overflowing with optimism and joy, and if I can get here, anyone can get here. You just have to take that first step.


The image of this client has been changed for their privacy.

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