November 2023 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Sam’s DVA-Funded Drug Addiction Recovery

Sam completed 90 days of DVA-funded residential addiction treatment and the Transitional Housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

After I left the defence force, I struggled to transition back to society, struggled with ice addiction and homelessness, and eventually, with Hader Clinic Queensland’s help, completed DVA-funded residential addiction treatment.

I grew up in a pretty good family and was very sporty in high school. I even played soccer for two years in Italy, and it was my life. Then I joined the army. I still played soccer in the army, and we did pretty well but we also had to participate in these Boozer Parades where every Thursday we were paid to drink as part of ‘bonding’. This started my struggles with addiction.

I was drinking a lot, around 1.5 litres of vodka a night, but I was still functional the next day. I’d get up and run 2.4km and do my work, completely functioning. I got married and started a family, but things started to change when I was put on invasion. It really started to take its toll on me, and I became mentally unstable with horrific dreams and paranoia. I used a bit during this time, but nothing considerable until I left the army and moved interstate back to my family. That’s really when my meth addiction took hold.

I couldn’t move back in with my parents as they were struggling with health issues, so I ended up homeless for a while. I was really struggling mentally trying to deal with my PTSD, depression and anxiety that would come out in rages.

I was put into emergency housing, and at one stage had seven different veteran support companies trying to help me. Unfortunately, I got put in a really awful place of emergency housing. The whole time I was there I was afraid for my life, sleeping and showering with a knife. I got into some scuffles there, so they had to move me into another accommodation. I was sick of it, the constant moving and having to watch my back all the time.

I had some charges against me from associating with the wrong people but luckily, I never went to jail. Funnily enough, the meth kept me going during this time. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the drugs when I was going through all that.

I wanted to get my life back on track, so they put me in a soldier rehabilitation program where they pay for your study and gym memberships, but I didn’t come forward about my addiction because I was scared, so I kept it under wraps.

Unfortunately, my use really spiralled out of control, almost overdosing, and just struggling to maintain some stability. So, I just admitted that I couldn’t do it anymore. I was talking with my dealer who I’d talked about getting clean with, telling them that I just didn’t want to live like this anymore, and they recommended Hader Clinic Queensland to me. I called Hader, spoke to Jo who is just amazing, and she helped me organise everything. I didn’t even have to deal with DVA, Jo and JJ at Hader Clinic Queensland organised it all and I went to residential addiction treatment.

The first day of my 90 days at Hader I just collapsed and cried out to God. I was raised in a very Christian household, and I’d really lost touch with my faith and spirituality when I was struggling with meth. I don’t know what you believe, but for me, I found God again.

I surrendered and did everything I had to do during my time in the program to build myself back up again. The program was great, and I just have so much to thank Hader for. DVA has even been really easy to deal with, especially with Jo from Hader making that connection. I’ve been honest with them and with myself and it’s really opened doors for me.

It’s still early days but I know that I have my higher power looking out for me, and I just do all the work to keep myself going forward in recovery. The program works and I’ve heard some really good results from other people as well. I’m rebuilding my relationships with my family, including my son and ex-wife. My mum is really happy that she’s got her son back and I’m grateful that I can spend however much time she’s got with her.

I’ve been six months sober now and I’m loving life. I’m going back to finish my study and just catch up on the six years I’ve lost to my meth addiction. I can’t tell the future, but I’ve got my health back, I’ve got my family back, I’ve got God back, and I’m just looking forward to maintaining my sobriety.

 

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

Drug Addiction, Psychosis and Redemption

Lizzie shares her journey from private school high achiever to drug addiction, psychosis and redemption.

By Taylah Fellows, Courier Mail
Pictures: Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

This article is from the Courier Mail. (Subscription required).

 

Lizzie’s journey from a privileged upbringing to a decade-long battle with drug addiction and eventual redemption is both an inspiring and cautionary tale.

She had a privileged upbringing, was an academic achiever at Brisbane private school and loved playing sport, but still found it hard to make friends.

For Lizzie, turning to drugs at age 14 was a way to connect with others.

Alcohol made her feel “comfortable” for the first time in her life, but it quickly became boring and was replaced with benders, marijuana, MDMA and cocaine.

Days bled together and sleepless nights merged into school days, so she took Ritalin and other study drugs to complete assessments and exams.

It wasn’t long after she morphed into a “party girl” that teenage Lizzie was introduced to methamphetamine.

“It was a big secret up until it wasn‘t,” she said.

“I knew how dangerous it was … we’d get amped up on ice and be super stimulated and then take GHB which does the complete opposite.

“I hid it pretty well for my family until friends were overdosing and I was failing school.

“I was getting really skinny and I wasn’t coming home and eventually, I was in a drug psychosis and I ended up just having to tell mum what was going on.”

Despite experiencing several mental breakdowns during her college years, Lizzie didn’t consider herself an addict.

She tried rehabilitation. It didn’t stick.

“While I was there my best friend died,” she said.

“I was in so much emotional pain I turned to self harm and I ended up taking someone else’s medication in there to try and soothe myself and I got kicked out.”

Mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, are the third leading cause of healthy years of life lost for Queenslanders.

Drug use disorders alone cost Queenslanders 50,854 years in 2022, up 2.1 per cent compared to 2021.

A 2022 inquiry into improving mental health outcomes found additional alcohol and withdrawal beds were needed across the state, as well as other specialist services to treat people living with substance abuse disorders including pharmacotherapy, psychosocial intervention, rehabilitation and harm reduction services.

There was a particular lack of treatment options and beds available in regional areas, with the committee also recommending more rehabilitation beds be made available for family members supporting loved ones with addiction.

Member for Moggil and member of the inquiry committee Dr Christian Rowan said there were significant accessibility challenges in the public rehab system and better service planning was needed to ensure various needs were being met in different communities.

“Addiction is a neurobiological disorder, a combination of genetics and neurobiological factors which need to be understood,” he said.

“That requires multidisciplinary care by various health professionals.

“Health workforce and planning for the future when it comes to medical specialists, physician and psychiatrists, nursing workforce and allied health professionals is really important and there are significant challenges in recruiting the workforce required to meet those issues.”

When Lizzie tried getting clean a second time, she completed her first year of psychology, got a good job.

But suddenly, “something clicked” and she “decided to self destruct again”.

“I lost that good job, totalled my car. I was getting done with possession, drunk driving, drug raids,” she said.

“Needles came into the picture. I started hanging around sex workers.

“But I was normalising it. I just saw the real world as a painful, unmanageable place … thinking like I just want to kill myself.”

A moment of clarity, and a deep desire to change her life led Lizzie back to the Hader Clinic Queensland Private.

She detoxed, completed three months of in-stay rehabilitation and another three months of transitional rehabilitation.

Lizzie is now 24 and 14 months sober, working a successful job with a new love in her life.

“For the first time in my life I don’t think about wanting to change the way I feel every minute of the day,” she said.

“I enjoy sleeping now. I don’t think I slept for like five years.

“I have people who care about me and they’re not transactional relationships.

“It’s cliche, but I had to figure out who I was, what colour I liked, what food I liked, just recreating my identity.

“I realised the real world is better than the world I was in.”

In 2021-22, 182 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Queensland provided 49,674 treatments to 34,565 people.

Most received an average of 1.4 treatments, which is lower than the national average of 1.8 treatments.

A Queensland Health spokesman said three new residential rehab facilities were being built in Cairns, Bundaberg and Ipswich to meet rising demand.

The Ipswich rehab location is still under consultation, with the Bundaberg facility due to open in late 2024, and Cairns by 2025.

“The new adult residential treatment services will improve access to specialist treatment and support by delivering withdrawal management and care, as well as rehabilitation programs,” the spokesman said.

On a mission to destigmatise addiction, Lizzie now uses her success story to remind other addicts that help is available if they want it.

But she considers herself lucky to have stayed at a private facility, with many unable to afford it or struggling to access a public rehab bed.

“When I was 19 I thought, surely I can’t be an addict,” she said.

“People see addicts as criminals who are going to rob you and they’ve got diseases.

“But I’ve seen addiction look like so many different things to different people and -the feelings are the same, that deep despair and hopelessness and dependence on something outside of yourself to feel okay.

“To find others who feel like me was mind blowing and rehab is about surrender. It gave me space between that last use to really build up some sort of willpower or ability to not use drugs.”

Aids is a confidential support service for people in Queensland with alcohol and other drug concerns is available 24.7. Call 1800 177 833. To find out more about the Hader Clinic Queensland Private, click here or call 1300 856 847.

This article appeared in the Courier Mail on November 11, 2023.
https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lizzie-shares-her-journey-from-private-school-high-achiever-to-drug-addiction-psychosis-and-redemption/news-story/a35da74405a4de4081f0bdc2ab8f90bf

Jaxon’s DVA-Funded Journey to Ice Addiction Recovery

Jaxon is over 7 months clean after completing 90 days of DVA-funded residential addiction treatment and the transitional housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

I enrolled in the Navy when I was 17 years old, and did a couple of tours in Afghanistan, before leaving the defence force after 8 years. After my time in the Navy, I struggled to get back into society and assimilate. I met some people from the wrong crowd who introduced me to meth use. What started as recreational use began spiralling into addiction and moving into intravenous use of meth. Money became an issue as I struggled to fund my ice addiction.

I couldn’t go without drugs, which led me to a life of crime to fund my addiction. My health was deteriorating from the use, and I knew I needed to get away from the drugs. I had been sent to rehabs on court orders about 5 times, but I just wasn’t committed or in the right headspace and would end up using as soon as I got out.

I moved from New South Wales to Queensland to try and get a fresh start, but the drugs and the crime followed me. I got arrested a couple of times and things were really out of control. It was at that point that I was thrown a wake-up call. My home was broken into, and I was stabbed in the throat, almost losing my life. That was rock bottom for me. So, I reached out to Veterans Affairs, asking for help, and they told me about Hader Clinic Queensland’s support for ex-services people with the DVA-funded addiction treatment program. I called Hader Clinic Queensland and they helped me set an admission date. I then got permission from the parole board to recover with family in New South Wales while I waited to get into the program.

When I arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland I was sick, I was severely underweight and just a broken person. All my confidence had gone, and I found it hard to get up in the mornings. I just didn’t want to do anything anymore, but the therapeutic community in Hader Clinic Queensland loved me back to life. It sounds cheesy but they showed me that I was worthy of life, friends, and connection.

The program and staff were excellent and for once, I truly began to understand what addiction actually is. I never got that understanding in the other rehabs. The main difference for me was the introduction to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) which gave me something to follow when I left rehab. Every additional time I left rehab I would use straight away, whereas this time I had the NA program and three months at Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program. It helped me continue implementing the program with accountability. I’ve now transferred over to the Hader Clinic Queensland’s Intensive Outpatient Program which has counselling and two classes a week to help me adjust to more freedom whilst still being accountable.

I’ve been stepping slowly back into life as I made the mistake previously of just jumping straight back into full-time work after rehab. I’ve just started working again, I’ve got the outpatient program, and I go to NA meetings every day. I’m feeling good, I feel well physically, and I’ve even managed to put on weight. I’m working on all the steps, trying to do all of the suggested things from NA, and I’ve got a sponsor. My gradual recovery through Hader Clinic Queensland’s DVA-funded treatment, I’m now coming up to 7 months clean and I’m doing well.

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