January 2024 - Hader Clinic Queensland

Scott’s Journey through Alcohol Addiction Treatment to Sponsorship

Scott is in recovery and supporting others to stay sober after completing residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

Alcohol addiction is a disease with a cycle of addiction that runs in my family. My father is 38 years sober, my brother is 6 years sober, and I was almost 11 years sober when I was diagnosed with cancer and relapsed. I was at my lowest when, with the support of my family, I went to Hader Clinic Queensland and completed 60 days of alcohol addiction treatment. I’ve been sober ever since and am helping others to do the same.

My relationship with alcohol started at a young age as I watched my father grapple with addiction and recovery. I despised alcohol, and the 12-step program, because they took my father away from me for a period of time. As a young man that negative relationship turned into aggressive blackout drinking. I was a functioning alcoholic who worked hard and played hard. Fortunately, around the time my daughter was born, I had a light-bulb moment and I got sober. I was sober for almost 11 years, helping others to work their way through addiction and even supporting my brother to sobriety when he went through Hader Clinic Queensland.

Then the perfect storm hit. I was diagnosed with cancer on a Monday and wrote my will before surgery on Thursday. I had no idea whether I was going to live or die. Instead of processing it emotionally or physically, I spent my time working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and doing radiation treatment in the morning and evening. I stopped reaching out to my sponsor, stopped sponsoring others, stopped attending meetings, and stopped doing service. I didn’t want to feel so I picked up a drink.

During my relapse, I knew at some point my ability to continue functioning and providing for my family was going to break. It all came crashing down around me as my family and employers became aware, and my wife of 30 years made the powerful decision to leave me (which I’m now very grateful and proud of her for doing).

So, I resolved to end my life. I planned out how I was going to do it, where I was going to do it, and when I was going to do it. But my higher power had another plan as on the day I was going to end my life, Rural Alive and Well attempted to contact me three times and then sent the police for a welfare check. The police took me to the hospital where I detoxed for 24 hours.

My brother recognised what was going on, and due to his pre-existing relationship with Hader Clinic Queensland, he contacted them while I was in hospital. They were absolutely first-class in their response and understanding, and within 48 hours I was booked in.

I flew up to Queensland and entered Hader Clinic with 48 hours of sobriety under my belt. The receptionist, nursing staff, GP, and Mark in particular made me feel very welcome. I had a strong pre-existing knowledge of the program, so I was able to get through the non-physical part of alcohol detox comfortably. At the end of my 28 days, I didn’t feel like it was time to leave yet so I booked in for an extra 30 days of rehab, committing to my recovery and making sure I attended every class.

The unique part about Hader Clinic Queensland is that every staff member, including some of the medical staff, are recovering alcoholics or addicts. In 1930’s Bill and Bob created the 12-step program, a program of one alcoholic/addict sharing their experience, strength, and hope to another alcoholic/addict and helping them stay clean and sober. In Hader Clinic Queensland that extends to their staff, which is a unique and positive aspect to the program.

I successfully completed the 60-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland, and I am very grateful to all the staff of the Hader program, especially those that I worked close with, Rosie, Jason, Riri and Mark who helped me through the massive highs and lows I went through. When I entered Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential treatment program I was 107 kilograms and when I left I was 88. Ever since my life has been great as I have been exercising and eating clean and fulfilling some lifelong dreams of mine.

I have an overwhelming desire to return to give-back at Hader Clinic Queensland and one day work in the field. Since leaving rehab I have completed the 12 steps and I’m working the program every day. I have a sponsor who supports me not only in my own recovery, but in coaching me to sponsor others. Because of my almost 11 years of sobriety before my relapse and my deep knowledge and working of the program.

My sponsor is comfortable with me sponsoring others and I am currently working with 8 sponsees. My goal is to continue to give away what’s been given to me and help as many people on the road to recovery as much as I possibly can. My sponsor and Gary Simpson, one of the founders of NA in Australia, are currently coaching me to achieve just that. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I get to live the rest of my life trying to do what Bill and Bob set out to do in 1930/1935 when they got sober; help others do the same.

Ten Ways to Avoid Social Triggers

Maintaining friendships and taking part in social gatherings – be it family functions, work events or the classic Australian backyard barbeque – is an important part of recovery.

However, it can also be one of the most complex aspects, as these occasions can be highly triggering for those recovering from substance use disorders.

Consider the following strategies to enjoy socialising without jeopardising your recovery process.

BYO

Bringing your own beverages to a gathering is a safeguard against well-meaning offers of alcohol or being cornered in an environment where no alcohol-free options are available.

Clear Boundaries

You are perfectly within your rights to let people know that, while you are happy attending the get-together, you will not be partaking in alcohol and/or drugs and would like your hosts and other guests to respect and support this choice.

Buddy Up

If you’re not comfortable announcing your recovery status to the entire party, choose a trusted friend or family member as your moral support. If anyone offers you alcohol and/or drugs or tries to pry into your motives for abstaining, your buddy can provide distraction or simply whisk you away.

Escape Routes

If you suspect that certain parties at a gathering could compromise your recovery, plan your escape. Set an alarm on your phone and claim a work or family emergency for a quick exit.

Communicate

It is unlikely that your loved ones will give you a hard time for abstaining from alcohol and/or drugs; but open communication is always a good idea. If you are comfortable talking about your recovery journey, your loved ones will gather valuable insights and be able to support you more effectively.

Be Selective

There is no need to attend every get-together you’re invited to. To avoid getting overwhelmed choose your social events wisely and save your energy for occasions you are genuinely excited about.

Compare Notes

If you are feeling anxious about a social event, have a chat with your support group, mentors, or fellow recovering addicts. Knowing you are not alone with your feelings can be tremendously helpful – as can exchanging coping strategies.

Realistic Expectations

Truthfully, the first attempts at socialising during active recovery can be challenging and awkward – and that is perfectly normal. Learning to socialise without alcohol and/or drugs takes practise and does get easier over time.

Debrief

Scheduling a call or coffee with a supportive friend or fellow recovering addict to recap your experience of a social event can be very helpful in identifying particularly potent triggers and reinforcing your recovery momentum.

Trust Your Gut

If you’re have a bad feeling about a gathering, don’t go. If you feel like leaving half an hour into a celebration, do it. If, to your surprise, you find yourself having a great time and would like to stay longer than planned – fantastic! Treat yourself kindly and trust your recovery instincts.

Veteran Ross’ Journey Through DVA-Funded Ice Addiction Treatment

After becoming homeless Ross completed the 90-day residential addiction treatment, and the 9-month transitional housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland, and is now over two years clean. This is his story.

Most of my life I’ve been using drugs and alcohol but things really began to spiral out of control when I started using meth. It was when I really hit rock bottom that I decided to try rehab and called Hader Clinic which got me into DVA-funded addiction treatment, and after some hard work, I’m now two and a half years clean.

I started when I was a teenager, smoking marijuana and drinking a lot. I just worked, smoked and drank until my 20s when I went to work in the mines and then joined the army. I quit the drugs and just drank alcohol while I was working in the mines, and I proceeded to do that when I joined the army as well. I was in the army for a few years and left toward the end of my 20s. It wasn’t really until my 30s that I started up on the drugs again. I’d tried amphetamines, or speed, before so when I was hanging out with some people that offered me meth I thought, why not.

But that’s when things really went downhill for me. Once I started, I was hooked. I started selling weed and that covered the cost of the meth for me, and at that time I was only smoking it every couple of weeks. I made a lot of money dealing weed, but I eventually gave up as it got too stressful, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

By then my ice addiction had started to take hold and I began using every day. Eventually, my money started running out so I had to start selling meth, and so I had access to a lot of it and I was in the throes of addiction. My life started spiralling, I became homeless, and I just was in a really dark place.

When I was living in a men’s homeless shelter, I started seeing a caseworker from the Salvation Army weekly for a couple of years. At the end of every session, she would mention Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction program, and how I could access the program through DVA, so I didn’t have to pay out of pocket.

I was not in the right headspace, so I eventually told her to stop mentioning it to me as I wasn’t interested. I said I would work my stuff out by myself, I just needed to get it together, but really, I was just wanting to end my life. I even made plans to that effect, but then one night this feeling came over me that I was worth more than this. It was the smallest window into a feeling of self-worth and that I was meant for a better life than the one I was living. And then Hader popped into my head.

So I called Hader Clinic the next day, and they explained how it all worked with DVA and everything, but I didn’t book in then and there. I wanted to wait for my paycheck to come in so I could buy some stuff in preparation for the 90 days of DVA-funded addiction treatment. It took me about a month to call back, but when I did they got me into the program within days. I didn’t even have to do anything with DVA, Hader organised the whole thing so all I had to do was fill out the forms and go to rehab.

I was so reluctant when I got to Hader. I had no idea what to expect. I guess I saw it as surgery where you go in, they fix you, and then you come out better. So yeah, I was way off, but I had a great counsellor that I could talk to and be honest about what I was experiencing during my time there. That was the best part of my experience in the program, being able to talk to someone who just listened to me and didn’t try to push something on me.

After 90 days I went to the transition program and I enjoyed having the accountability and honesty of the rehab program but also the freedom to do what I wanted with my days. It was a good way to get back into the real world without losing the support. I would have my weekly chats with Olivia and just talk about how I was feeling, and my concerns, and just be truly honest about how I was going. I got to take the program at my own pace and continue to work on what was going on in my head while adapting back to society.

After the transition program, I didn’t do much but focus on my recovery. I went to a meeting every day and I just took it one day at a time. I was dedicated to staying clean and that meant just taking it day by day and not being hard on myself. I took it slow and I took it easy, and I didn’t compare myself to others, which is something I had to learn.

I always tell the newcomers at NA that it’s hard but you just take one day at a time for the first three months and it gets easier to manage. I’m much better at managing what life throws at me. I relax and avoid things that are too stressful as I know my limits better now.

I’m now 2 and a half years sober, I go to meetings at least once a week, and I meditate when I’m feeling overwhelmed. From a dark headspace in the throes of addiction, through DVA-funded ice addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, the transition program, and now living clean for over 2 years. It’s a roller-coaster but it’s worth it.

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

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