Antonio’s Addiction Recovery
April 6 2018, is a day etched in Antonio’s mind. It’s his first clean day. Now 1000 days following treatment for alcohol addiction Antonio shares his recovery story.
My name’s Antonio. I’ve just turned 39, and never thought I’d be in a rehab clinic at the age of 36.
My substances of abuse were dope and booze. Oh, yes, I did dabble in the party drug scene, but they didn’t do it for me like alcohol and weed did.
I entered into the 90 day residential rehab program at The Hader Clinic Queensland and after my program, had to go straight back at work as it was an insanely busy time of year.
Life outside of rehab has been tough. I was ready to give up my addiction, but learning to live with a new normal and get back into life has been quite challenging.
Using dope and alcohol ended up being a way of surviving for me.
You see, I’d grown up with high levels of anxiety, irritability, anger and discontentment – I had thought this was all pretty normal, how everyone goes through life. However, when I received treatment, I began to understand that I was suffering from some mental health issues.
It wasn’t something that anyone talked about when I was a kid, I just accepted it.
I had always dabbled in dope, and didn’t actually drink that much initially. The whole way through my addiction, I funded my habit – and grew my own weed.
What really set me off was cheating on my wife and having an affair.
At this stage I had started to take medication for anxiety and I was combining this with drinking – I would end up in a semi euphoric state where I wouldn’t know or care what I was doing. I had little thought about the consequences.
Once I added dope into the mix, I’d be off my face and into oblivion.
During this time, a girl came onto the scene who showed interest in me. I was flattered. It felt good, so I went with it.
Eventually it came to an end and my drinking became an even bigger issue.
One Thursday evening, I was drunk and out of my tree. My wife ended up giving me an ultimatum – do something about my addiction or she would leave. She was sick of it.
Meanwhile, I was a blubbering, incoherent mess.
I ended up staying at my sister’s place overnight and they got me into The Hader Clinic Queensland – I arrived on the doorstep on Monday morning.
Rehab, initially, was a complete shock for me. When I entered, I had three clean days under my belt. However, I was anxious being away from my kids, plus I couldn’t call them for the first week. I was also trying to manage my anxiety medication.
That first week was terrible. I spent a lot of time, sitting alone, crying, feeling a sense of shame that rehab was where I had ended up at 36.
However, I did get through that week, and things started to look up.
I was able to call the kids.
I saw my wife and family during week two.
I had a long chat to my wife who told me that I needed to take the time to really work on myself and not to worry about them.
I could see that I had a decision to make – either sink back into my shell and continue to live the same tortured life, or to believe in the program, listen to others and give things a good go. I’m glad I chose the latter.
During my time at the Clinic I kept busy, I started an exercise program and I started praying.
I’m still praying.
I was at the stage of my addiction where I had no choice but to surrender to, and believe in the program.
I still go to meetings. Initially, I went to two a week but usually it’s one a week unless work gets in the way. I enjoy sharing my story with others and I enjoy hearing about how others are progressing.
What keeps me clean is that I’m not depressed anymore. Using weed all the time got me into a state of deep depression.
I also realised that I was using to try and help myself sleep. The psychiatrist, Andy, was an invaluable help here. Thanks to him I have found the perfect balance of medication that address anxiety and help me sleep.
After I came out of rehab, many of my friends fell by the wayside. People who I’d considered best mates (and who I’d used with) didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Perhaps they understand it’s because I no longer use. That’s OK.
Every now and again I miss having a beer on a Friday arvo. However, I don’t miss that horrible feeling of being unable to stop myself and then wanting to layer a cone on top of that as well.
I still feel that pain.
However, l understand that the only way to manage my mental health is to stay clean. It’s a promise I made to myself while I was in rehab. I don’t want to use.
I also don’t want my addiction experience defining me as a person. It’s just one part of my life, but it’s not the whole story.
The relationship with my wife and kids, 11 and 8, has improved dramatically. We’ve worked through a lot and weathered some storms, but my wife has trust in me now. That’s important to me.
If I had any advice on staying clean in the long term, it’s to keep “plugging away” at it. One day at a time is really how I manage it.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have attended rehab and am looking forward to the future.
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