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Wil’s Addiction Recovery

Wil proves there is hope and recovery for people whose lives have been destroyed by their long-term drug addiction. Watch his story.

You could say that being an addict is the only thing I’ve known – because I’ve spent at least half of my twenty four years in active addiction – as well as several years in jail. You’d think that there would be no hope for someone whose addiction has led them down this path, right?

WRONG!  Thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland, I was reborn into a life free of drugs five months ago. I’m currently undertaking the Clinic’s transition housing program.

I came straight to rehab from jail, so being out in the community feels very different, but the support I’m receiving has been helping me a lot. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – to attend 180 NA meetings in 90 days. That works out to be two per day. It’s been really good in that I’ve been making new connections and friends.

My name’s Wil and I was what is known as a “poly user” – my substance of addiction was anything and everything.  I’d use whatever worked to numb the pain or transport me out of my misery to a different place.

I used opiates, benzos, alcohol, ice – you name it, I tried it.

My problems started early in childhood – in primary school. I was a naturally introverted, shy and nervous kid, who found it almost overwhelming trying to make friends and connect with other people. It was as if I never felt really very comfortable in my own skin – at home or at school.

In primary school I was bullied a lot. This left me feeling worthless and empty. I hated myself. All I saw when I looked in the mirror was “not good enough”.

In Year Seven and Eight I started smoking cigarettes. I remember feeling like I was at the bottom of the food chain.  I remember searching out male role models who weren’t victims.

I had spent my whole childhood feeling like I was a victim. I’d had enough.

I surrounded myself with people who I perceived were my opposite. I started drinking alcohol and smoking pot. I was twelve years old. Eventually I picked up ice.

Pot use went on for many years. I became violent and unpredictable. I transformed my persona into that of a predator and built up a “tough guy” persona – so I could feel comfortable and safe. I was untouchable.

If I wasn’t using, I didn’t feel like I was functioning. Without continual using I’d start feeling apprehensively uncomfortable. I’d feel hopeless and that my worth amounted to nothing. Using took me away from these feelings – and I thought that drugs were the solution to every problem that I had.  When I drank or used, I’d have these momentary windows of self confidence – by myself and in a social situation.

With drugs, I believed that I was capable of living and managing life, just like everyone else. I’d feel moments of happiness or what I thought was self-esteem, especially when I got onto ice.

Now, looking back, I can see that I was trapped.

Drugs was never about a party or socialising with friends. I used to survive my own existence.

My parents didn’t know about my drug use for a long time. There’s a fair history of alcoholism in my family, but not drug use. I was good at being able to keep it under wraps. However, eventually it caught up with me.

They didn’t really know how to handle it, except to ask me to stop. They told me that if I didn’t stop, I couldn’t live at home and that so long as I was using, that they couldn’t be in my life.

The problem was that I was in so deep by this stage – even if I’d wanted to, I had no idea how to stop. I wasn’t capable of it.

I went to see psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. They couldn’t help me. I was put on a cocktail of medications that made my head worse.  They didn’t know what my problem was – before addiction or with it.

My solution was to leave home. Without any income or employment, I turned to crime to support my using. I started dealing and I pushed anyone away that had ever tried to help me.

I managed to stay under the criminal radar until I turned 18. At this stage my ice use was out of control. It was horrific. I started doping myself up on opiates as the ice was no longer working to numb the pain.

To fill that empty hole, I started adding more and more drugs – in different combinations. I was desperately trying not to feel.

I experienced drug induced psychosis for years. I used a lot of benzodiazepines which made me forget everything I had done. This included my first armed robbery at eighteen – I spent three months in jail before I got bailed.

As soon as I was released, my use continued and so did my crimes. Again, I was sent to jail. In a way, it was almost a relief as I began to feel comfortable there. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere, that I was accepted, that there was a place for me to go. This was because I was surrounded by like-minded people who were broken, destroyed and hopeless as well.

Upon release I’d try to maintain my drug use, or cut back as a way of trying to remain functional. Naturally, it didn’t work. I’d be off my face and out of control.

I got a job when I was on bail. It lasted a month, then I was back on the run. That resulted in another twelve month jail term.

After this release, I thought I’d try and find a girlfriend to fill the void. However, she was also using, and it wasn’t long before I was back on the run, arrested, and this time jailed for two years.

When I was released, I tried the same things. I tried to get a job, I tried to maintain and not escalate my drug use, I’d try and swap one drug for another. However, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t use some substance of addiction to get by.  I wouldn’t go to sleep at night unless I knew there was a hit of something I could look forward to in the morning.

From the moment I woke up, my life was full of drugs. Whether it was a needle in my arm, or something in my mouth, it was always there.

My life of crime continued to support my habit.

Again, I went back to jail and was bailed to another rehab. That went to shit really quickly. They wanted to deal with my mental health issues before dealing with my addiction. The last thing I needed was more medication. I escaped the rehab and lasted seven days on the run.

That transgression resulted in me going back in jail for sixteen months. At this time, my mum came back into my life. She visited me in jail. I tried to push her away. She had received an inheritance that would pay for a proper rehab and also set me up after my transition program.

She persisted in visiting and as I couldn’t see a future for myself, I kept trying to push her away. I thought the only hope for my future was to have enough drugs so I could survive it.

At this stage, I felt so bad that I didn’t want to leave jail. I was exhausted, defeated and broken.

However, she wasn’t giving up. After seven days out of jail and not using, I was suicidal. I began to see that I was causing her pain, I was causing myself pain and I was causing everyone in my family pain. Surely there had to be a better way? I was now at the stage where I couldn’t live with using anymore, yet I also couldn’t live without using.

When I was still in jail, my mother started looking at rehab options. I was still using in jail and didn’t want a bar of it. There weren’t many rehabs that would take me, given my criminal history and that I was on parole.

However, she discovered The Hader Clinic Queensland and when she called them, she had a sense that this was the right place for me. During that initial phone call, the staff related to all the problems I experienced as a kid as well as the addiction. They seemed to understand the person I was.

I got paroled from jail straight into the rehab. The rehab became my parole address.

I managed to arrive at the Hader Clinic Queensland detoxed, broken, defeated and willing to give anything a try.

I was also suspicious, sceptical and unconvinced.

I walked down those stairs to a big welcome. Staff members Donna and Mark were there to meet me. There was something about them that I could relate to, especially Mark. They spoke to me on a level where I felt accepted, and welcome. It was a surreal experience.

This part where I felt I related to them? They didn’t talk to me like a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. They talked to me as a person. It helped me to understand that I had a way forward.

I began to realise that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I started going to meetings and whether I told them or not, heard my own stories in some way.

JJ (support worker) was a big part of my experience there – the way he shared his message and recovery was an inspiration to me.

The penny really dropped when I realised that people live and deal with life without using. It was amazing to see that it was possible that people who had lived like me were making a life for themselves and were genuinely happy.

Watching the way these people had recovered and seeing how tall and proud they walked made me want the same thing.

I’ve been in the Transition Program for two months. I’m using the NA framework and doing the twelve steps. I have a great sponsor and I’m currently up to step five. I’m about to move in with someone from NA who is four years’ clean.

I would be lying if I said those stepping stones from being practically institutionalised in jail have been easy. I’m catching up on many things like learning to budget, cook and clean. It’s a bit intimidating at first, but the support I have had makes it worthwhile.

At the same time, I’m looking forward to taking on all those bits of life that I’ve missed. Living life clean. I appreciate every single day.

I want to get across to anyone who’s been living in jail and thinks that there’s no hope and it’s the end of the road to think again. There are stepping stones that you can take to get your life back.

Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for giving me hope, and my life back.

Luke’s Addiction Recovery

Bereft, devastated and unable to stay clean, Luke undertook residential rehabilitation for his cocaine and alcohol addiction.

Hello, my name is Luke and I’m a recovering addict. I’m now fifty years old, and I was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

It all started when I finished my studies at the University of Melbourne. I worked as an actor for seven years post Arts degree. I was in a relationship with a woman who was addicted to heroin. Our relationship was tumultuous and she broke things off with me.

Desperate to get back with her, and lacking self esteem and confidence, I agreed that I’d try heroin with her if she turned up at a certain location at a certain time. She never turned up and I tried it anyway. I began to understand why people use heroin, it just numbed the pain.

Cocaine was an accident. I’d scored what I had thought was heroin, but actually got cocaine instead. It was love at first use. I used for about 18 months before I went into rehab. I was 28, and living in Sydney at the time.

With rehab, I stayed clean for eleven months. Then I relapsed. At this particular time, I hadn’t drunk alcohol for ten years. However, I moved from Sydney to the Northern Territory and suddenly cocaine just wasn’t freely available.

Therefore, I turned to drinking to fill the addictive gap.

During my time in the Northern Territory, I met my wife. I stopped taking drugs. Life was good and I drank socially.

However, I was not happy in my employment, and to cope, I started drinking more, to the point that it was beginning to become problematic.

My wife was well aware of my drinking but didn’t consider it to be a problem. I knew differently.

I had a drive in – drive out job and I worked away for the majority of each week. While I was away, I would drink to excess, but from Friday to Sunday when I was at home, I didn’t touch alcohol. I hid my addiction well from my wife and daughter.

An unexpected family tragedy saw us pack up and leave Australia. My wife is from the UK and we decided that we’d have better family support if we moved there.

However, that was the beginning of more problems for me as my Visa to enter and work in the UK was mysteriously rejected. The process of getting my Visa properly sorted out was a nightmare – it took 18 months to rectify the initial mistake and in order to do so, I had to surrender my passport, licence etc for the Home Office paperwork process.

I was effectively stranded. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t get a phone or a drivers license. I was helpless.

To cope with this latest challenge, I started drinking again and then found cocaine. Meanwhile, my wife was working. My cocaine addiction spiralled out of control to the point where I was using daily.

My wife had noticed that I had cleaned out our bank accounts. She tried to be supportive, but as I slid further into the grip of addiction, my behaviour also deteriorated as she caught me telling lies.

She thought that I was having an affair, and kicked me out of the house.

I was bereft and devastated. My mother came over from Australia for a visit, and immediately sensed something was very wrong. I had lost a lot of weight, was trying to attend NA meetings and I was trying to reconcile with my ex.

I couldn’t stay clean. If was as if my brain was “blocked” when I thought of anything related to my using or a different way – I literally couldn’t find a safe space within myself.

My mother brought me home just as COVID-19 hit. We flew from Heathrow to Sydney and then finally to Brisbane. We were one of the first sets of passengers to be forced into hotel quarantine.

I agreed during this time to go to rehab. I travelled straight from Brisbane to The Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehab.

The process reminded me a bit of my first rehab. It was based on the 12 Step fellowship and I took part in the 90 day program. I had already completed some of the steps, but this time what hit home for me was that I’d been hanging onto the past.

I was punishing myself for situations that were out of my control. I had to learn to treat myself well, as if the rest of the world would treat you.

Of course, I didn’t want to be there. There was all kinds of internal resistance going on – I wanted to be at home with my daughter. During the second and third months, I started to surrender. I wrote letters to my ex wife asking to reconcile. I also had an ultrasound and discovered that I had severely damaged my liver, being diagnosed with Stage 3 cirrhosis.

I was devastated, however, when I went to see the specialist gastroenterologist, I was told that a mistake had been made and while there was liver damage, if I kept living clean, it was totally reversible.

At that moment I realised that my own self pity had been holding me back and that I still had every chance of a full and happy life. That evening, I slept like a baby.

After I left rehab, I stayed in Australia. I wanted to accumulate some money to right some of the wrongs I had made. I have always been known for (and proud of) having an exceptional work ethic, so when I returned to the United Kingdom to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, I paid my ex back the money I had taken.

Our relationship is over, but we talk, communicate and are co-parenting our daughter in a positive way.

I am concentrating on being the best dad to our daughter that I can be and I’m restarting the UK business that I had before COVID-19 struck.

I am grateful to all at the Hader Clinic Queensland for encouraging me to stick around and am looking forward to what the future brings.

My Son’s Recovery

Genevieve, a support worker at Hader Clinic Queensland has battled addiction. So has her son James.

Hi everyone, I’m Genevieve, and I am a support worker at the residential rehab facility at Hader Clinic Queensland. I’ve not only worked in the field of addiction for several years, I’ve also battled with addiction.

I’m coming up on two years’ clean this time round, however, this story isn’t about me, it’s about my son, James.

James did a thirty day program and has been clean, and engaged in our recovery program for the last five months. He’s also about to head back to university.

I’m sharing a bit of my story with you, to give some background and context. I wanted to say that I believe that there’s a mixture of both genetic and environmental impacts that drive the disease of addiction.

My son grew up with me in the height of my addiction, so he was exposed to it, and the drama that goes with it, warts and all, from an early age.

As an adolescent, he developed some mental health issues. He struggled with depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with Attachment Disorder.

By the age of fourteen or fifteen, James was smoking weed.

Eventually he went off to study at university – he was by now living in Florida, USA, with his father. During that time, he did two years of university and sunk from being an A student to barely, or if all passing.

He had become addicted to partying, weed and had developed a gaming addiction.

You could say that he was repeating a pattern he had seen in his childhood.

At 18, he was in and out of hospital because he had suicidal ideations. During this time, his father found out that he’d been abusing prescription ADHD pharmaceuticals, like dexamphetamine, as well as illicit psychedelic drugs and weed.

As fate would have it, we decided to intervene and bring him back to Australia when COVID-19 hit. To be honest, I didn’t realise that things were that bad. When he came back, he was clean for about eight weeks. Then he started using. This coincided with three to four visits to the ER and mental health unit.

His mental health was declining and one day he assaulted me. I immediately drew the line at that behaviour and kicked him out. It made me realise that I was in denial about my son’s addiction.

Being in denial about my son was enabling him – he ran with his addiction until I put up that firm boundary.

There was a week or so of couch surfing. I just couldn’t engage with him in active addiction.
Desperate, James called the Hader Clinic Queensland himself and organised his rehab.

Because I work at the residential rehab, I made a big effort to stay out of James’s clinical treatment, and my colleagues supported me in this.

I wanted this to be James’s story, not my story and I wanted to give him every opportunity to experience rehab in his own way.

I attended the Hader Clinic Queensland family nights as a parent, rather than an employee – it goes without saying that I enabled James by being in complete denial about the level of his addiction and he ran with it.

Once I set a firm boundary with him, he came to the conclusion he needed treatment himself. He was in quarantine for two weeks after an interstate visit – he was losing his life skills, his sleep hygiene was taking a big dive, basically – he knew he was unwell.

We both work the twelve step program. Again, with the tremendous support of the Fellowship, they made me take a step back with James – they told me that it was not my role to “rescue” him and I agree. If he is in trouble, I say, “call your sponsor”.

Now, nearly six month’s clean, he’s about to go back to university full time, majoring in social sciences. His lived experience and issues with mental health will enable him to help others.

James has terrific insight into why he picked up and found himself in addiction. Now that he is clean, the constant suicidal ideations and his mental health overall are more manageable. He is seeing a psychologist regularly and his medication is on track.

Our relationship has improved as he also sees me as a recovering addict as well as his Mum – he knows that I have to work my program just as hard as he does!

I’m proud of my son and know that he is proud of his journey as well.

James’ Addiction Recovery

21 years old James, who grew up exposed to his mother’s battle with addiction undertook our residential addiction treatment program for his own addiction. He is now six months clean.

Hi, my name is James.

Addiction, even when you’re a kid, is what I’d call a lifestyle choice. Being brought up in a home with a parent in full blown addiction is what I’d describe as being chaotic.

However, being a kid, I accepted that this is how things were. By that, I mean, it was normal to be awake for twenty four hours a day, it was normal that your home was dilapidated and that there was often no food to be had. Plus, school was pretty hit and miss.

As well as being schooled in the education system, when I  actually turned up, I was also schooled never to talk about what was going on, should Child Protection Services drop by.

As a teenager, aged 15-16, I started smoking weed with friends. However, the difference was that I was the friend that couldn’t stop. I started isolating myself and doing weed at night in my room, alone.

I didn’t want to care. I didn’t want to feel. I started doing magic mushrooms and LSD with friends.

Then I moved to the USA to live with my Dad and that’s where my use really spiralled. It’s very easy to get drugs there – and they are super cheap. Prescription drugs became my downfall. I was doing dexamphetamine pills, benzodiazepines, anything I could get my hands on.

I was away at college, so my Dad didn’t see there was a problem. Nobody saw what was going on.

I rationalised and normalised my choices as much as I could.  It was “normal” to take speed to get through an all nighter prepping for an exam.  It was “normal” to get cooked with your friends on a day off.

What wasn’t normal about me is that I needed drugs to function. Contemplating vacuuming my floor required me to use beforehand.

I started going to underground raves and started using MDMA. I reckon I would have fried my brains 24/7 if I could have.

I didn’t consider myself an addict – mainly because I wasn’t hung up on using any one substance. I’d use bits and pieces of everything therefore in my mind, I wasn’t addicted to anything and didn’t have a problem.  My friends were worried about me and voiced their concerns.

“If all these people stopped complaining, then I’d be fine,” I thought.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit while I was living with Dad. I decided to stock up on drugs to see me through it. I went on a bender and blacked out for four days. During that time, I broke my toe, shattered my bed frame. I was psychotic.. and embarrassed.

The drugs were making my struggles with mental health worse. Every time I used, my problems appeared to magnify. My Dad didn’t know how to cope. If anything he had the, “get out of bed, get over it and go for a run” attitude – he had no idea what he was dealing with.

Eventually the decision was made that I’d return to Australia.  My girlfriend was in Sydney so I went to visit her which was all fun and games until it wasn’t. I was rapidly becoming very unwell, binge drinking and doctor shopping – so her family kicked me out.

I went home to Queensland and had to quarantine for two weeks. I decided to ask around for amphetamines. I was offered something “quite different from other speed”. It was ice.

Well, that made me mentally ill, violent, psychotic and abusive towards my mum and girlfriend. They told me that they’d both had enough.

“Everyone is making my life difficult,” I thought.

Yet somehow in there I recognised that my life really was out of control and decided to come to rehab.

I did the thirty day residential addiction treatment program and I remember thinking, “how the fuck did I end up here,” while peeing on a drug screen urine test and lighting it up like a Christmas tree. I laughed at how surreal it all was.

However, the outcome was good – I did detox over a few days and came to learn that good rehab is about putting time between your last using and building new life skills. Just putting 24 hours of successful living between you and drugs, one day at a time.

I am involved with NA and have a sponsor. I take each day as it comes and always when feeling stressed use the “HALTS” acronym – am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed” – it’s easy for me to forget that a decent meal can sometimes make the biggest difference.

My future is looking bright. I have enrolled in university studies here and am studying Social Work. I’d like to undertake post grad studies and be involved in the upper management levels of AOD and mental health. Or research the aetiology of addiction.

Recently I returned to Sydney and reconnected with my girlfriend and her family. We have a lot of healing to do.  Likewise, I am getting on better with my parents these days too. We communicate openly and life is much easier for it.

I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for their support and help.

Bob’s Addiction Recovery

Bob is a recovering addict who completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program. This is his story.

G’day. My name’s Bob. I’m 33 years old, and a recovering addict, who thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland, is clean and about to embark upon a psychology degree.

It all started pretty early, really. I started off drinking at the age of 17 and started adding drugs, specifically cocaine, to the mix from age 18.  At the time, I thought nothing of it – it was that drinking and partying rite of passage that everyone goes through, right?

Before I sought treatment, I was working in my family’s reinforcing steel business.  I also worked as a chippie renovating hotel rooms.

However, after school, I’d enrolled at uni and was just doing alcohol and cocaine on occasional weekends. It was an insidious increase in exposure to the point where the drugs became an “every weekend” thing and then three or four years ago, escalated to daily use.

During that time I tried to live “normally” but drugs stole my relationship, and my mental health. I probably had an underlying disposition to being anxious and depressed, and I spent many years on and off anti depressants and bouncing between psychologists to try and solve it.

However, my problem was that I was using to cope with life. I have had four episodes where I’ve been admitted to a psych ward and the last time was because I attempted suicide.

In January, I was living in the Hunter Valley, and was beginning to feel desperate. I was thinking that perhaps a stint in a private mental health hospital may slay the demons.  Even though I’d been before and it clearly hadn’t worked in the long term.

My parents suggested that I go to alcohol and drug rehab. I made a deal with them and agreed to go as long as they organised it.

This was the beginning of my journey with The Hader Clinic Queensland. I was admitted in January and initially thought that I was heading to a wellness retreat.

Put it this way, arriving at the rehab was a real shock to the system and initially I didn’t want to be there. I detoxed during the first five days and it took awhile for me to accept that I was going to be there for ninety days. In those initial days, I felt suicidal and desperate.

However, I resigned myself to the fact that I was in the here and now and decided to give the rehab a crack.

Once, I had made that decision, my mood started to lift. I felt like life was improving and that I was able to think clearly about my situation.  After being embroiled in the drama of drugs and alcohol for all these years –- plus losing my marriage and watching my mates get pinched was a catalyst to me deciding “enough was enough”.

I worked the program and once I finished rehab, I have continued to work the program – I go to NA regularly and have a home group and sponsor.

Moving back home with Mum and Dad has really helped. As well as being supportive, our relationship has improved in leaps and bounds, especially as our prior communication was once or twice every few months. They are proud that I went to rehab and I am grateful that they’re in my corner.

I have enrolled at Uni and will be studying psychology in July at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

If I had any words of wisdom to share they would be, “if you’re not ready to go to rehab, don’t bother”.

Rehab doesn’t work unless you decide to put in the work to make it happen. I have to work hard every day, making the changes I need to live my life clean.

Yes, it’s been tough, but it’s been worth it and I have the Hader Clinic Queensland to thank for it!

Sean’s Addiction Recovery

Sean completed our 90 day residential addiction treatment program for his alcohol addiction. Today he’s celebrating 22 months of recovery. This is his story.

Hi, my name is Sean. I completed the 90 day residential rehab program at The Hader Clinic Queensland in June 2019, where I received treatment for my alcoholism. After I completed my program, I spent eight months in the transition house, and finished in May 2020.

Today I am celebrating 22 months of sobriety. My life today is incredible – if you’d asked me about it 22 months ago, you couldn’t begin to imagine the changes I’ve experienced – and it’s all been for the better.

Leaving the transition house in May 2020 was a tad scary – as we were in peak COVID times here in Australia. It was scary because I wanted to be able to secure a job that I actually wanted.

As part of my recovery, I had decided that I wanted my previous  career in corporate mining– and I was worried about getting stuck in a dead end job because that was all that may be available, due to COVID.

With this in mind, I saved every penny I could when I was in the Transition House. It meant that I was able to rent a studio apartment for a couple of months and allow myself to adjust back to life on the “outside”.

In the meantime, I poured my energy in to looking for the right type of employment and as luck would have it, I was able to secure a position working for a mining company, in a role that I am very happy with.

Securing such a great job meant that I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment within walking distance to work. I needed two bedrooms as my daughter stays with me every second weekend which has been great.

Speaking of family, the relationships within my family are continuing to improve with every passing week.

When I was in the grip of addiction, I found it hard to take an interest in my family – but these days, without alcohol in the way I am getting to know my kids in ways I didn’t know were possible. It’s also been great that my ex-wife and I have been getting along well, which has probably also helped our parenting.

Twelve months ago, I started seeing a new partner. Naturally, I was cautious about revealing my battles with addiction to somebody I didn’t know all that well, so when she noticed I didn’t drink, and asked me about it, I simply told her that I did a “Dry July” and kept it going.

Now that we know each other better, I’ve gradually been more open about addiction and why I sought treatment for it. Occasionally, my partner will have a glass of wine, but these days I’m not remotely tempted.

Of course, the last twenty two months hasn’t been without challenges. Every now and again after a hard day’s work, I think, “gee, I could go for a beer”. However, I just treat that as a passing moment in time – the training and education I received from The Hader Clinic Queensland – helped me to put those thoughts firmly in check and is automatic now, like a non-smoker walking past a tobacco shop. Mostly I don’t think about alcohol at all.

I think what hits home the most to me is that during my morning walk to work, I often pass homeless people. As I got to this point in active addiction where I spent two nights too many on the street after having lost everything, it’s a wakeup call for me. It’s a reminder of how far I have risen.

I know that if I ever picked up a drink again, that would be my destiny – because it’s already happened once.

If I had any advice to give about rehab and sobriety, I would say, “just do it.”

However, realise that the journey is one of hard work and self-reflection – and that by putting in the “hard yards” you can live the life of your wildest dreams on the other side. Yes, it is possible.

The journey of recovery hasn’t stopped for me. I continue to evolve and grow as a person. I have a few sayings that resonate with me – “strive for perfection but know that you will never achieve it”, and, “be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be”.

I understand that perfection is not attainable, yet I try and strive for the highest standards in my life as I can. I am happy with that.

I am on day 9 of giving up smoking and with what I know about addiction through the Hader Clinic Queensland and tools and knowledge of how to overcome any urge, no matter what it is, I have found it relatively easy so far. It is a journey that I have contemplated for a while, and now I have the ability to execute this next goal.

Whatever It Takes

When we first interviewed Joe last year about his recovery from addiction nobody knew we were about to be hit with a worldwide pandemic. Joe shares his ongoing recovery and the drastic changes COVID-19 has had on his recovery.

I was in the middle of my Transition Housing program and concentrating as hard as I could on my recovery.

Then it happened. COVID-19 hit Australia and we all had to make drastic changes.

One of these changes was that all of the face to face meetings that I was attending as part of my recovery changed to online. Changing to online meetings prompted me to face the fear I had of technology. Because I did not want this obstacle to impact upon my recovery, I decided to stay in the Transition House for another month.

I’m glad that I did. I learned how to use meeting platforms like Zoom and mastered the HaderCare aftercare app. I did counselling sessions with Olivia, The Hader Clinic Queensland’s psychologist, online.

Little by little I started to get the hang of it. Once I was confident that I had mastered the technological side of things, I moved back home to live with my mother in Brisbane.

Yet, I decided to remain deeply embedded with The Hader Clinic Queensland’s intensive outpatient support program, and when I was confident that I was doing OK, I tapered back to being a regular outpatient. I still regularly go into the city headquarters for a check-in.

During the worst of the COVID-19 lockdown period, I ended up participating in two home groups on Zoom, and then they eventually returned to face to face meetings.

I was doing 8-9 meetings per week at that time and being both a sponsor to other addicts and a sponsee (having my own sponsor). This made me grateful that I had the opportunity to do things properly and give 100%, and then some to my recovery. I cannot afford to go back to a life of addiction.

Recently, I have scaled back to six meetings, because I’m studying full time. I am studying dual diplomas in mental health and alcohol and other drugs. My studies finish in July and we’ve covered all manner of topics from the basics of mental health to workplace health and safety, not to mention doing extra work in learning to deal with COVID-19 in this framework.

COVID-19 caused a lot of issues for many addiction sufferers. There were several articles in the mainstream media about how alcohol use escalated during lockdown.

From my own experience and from what I have learned in my course, can I say that this wasn’t a complete surprise?

COVID, for many, increased feelings of isolation and impacted on many people’s mental health. For example, some feared technology, like I did and became isolated, the loss of freedoms affected other’s headspace and not being able to meet face to face for a meeting lead many people down a road where they weren’t coping with life.

I am currently back living at home with Mum. We have been through so much together and we continue to grow in our communication with each other and respect for each other’s boundaries. It’s been an awesome journey – I know my Mum still carries some of the burden with my addiction but these days if we have an argument or disagreement, she knows that I’m not going to head out and pick up. We may take a few hours to work things out, but the main thing is that we come to an understanding.

I’m coming up to eighteen months’ clean. If I had any “advice” or “words of wisdom” to share, I would like to say that I had to forget about any notion or idea that I was going to fail at rehab this time around. Secondly, I am always working my recovery for myself. It’s what I do.

As cancer survivor and HIV victim, Peter McWilliam says, “you cannot allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought.”

With this in mind, and knowing how the addict brain works, thanks to my mental health training, I knew that I had to put 120% of my life into recovery.

Whatever it takes to be in recovery is what I will do. I needed to put heart and soul into my recovery as it makes me feel safe.

What does that mean? I know from sheer experience that relapses for me end in suicide attempts as my mind takes me to places I do not want to go to. My brain in active addiction tells me that I’m worthless and that I’m not worth fighting for.

I regularly travel to the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential facility for “give back”. I always stay for a whole week because it takes time to get around and speak to everyone in the rehab – and it gives everyone a chance to warm to you. Most of us who enter rehab are broken spiritually and emotionally, so I like to be available to connect for a little bit longer.

Attending rehab, and returning to study have opened up a new beginning for me. As well as drawing on my background in Allied Health, I’m looking forward to using my lived experience and what I’ve learned in my studies to be of service to other addiction sufferers in The Hader Clinic Queensland Private hospital.

It’s important that everyone knows that there is hope when it comes to the disease of addiction. It took years of addiction and three suicide attempts as well as rehab to teach me that my calling was to be of service to others who are suffering the disease of addiction.

Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for showing me the “way home” – and to anyone reading this who feels like there’s no hope, please rest assured that recovery is always possible.

Chris’s Addiction Recovery

Chris, born into a family consumed by addiction, now 49, has been battling addiction for half of his life. Following his treatment for addiction he shares his story.

As a child I remember going to my father’s work Christmas party. All of dad’s work mates were smoking dope. I remember there was a visit from Santa (one of dad’s workers). I saw him smoking dope and getting dressed as Santa.

“Wow!” I said to my brother, “Even Santa’s on the bong!”

I’m sure anyone reading this would question whether there was any truth in my story. However, this is an accurate description of the family that I was born into.

Being born into addiction has its curses and its blessings. In many ways, I feel blessed as it showed me the pathway to the AA fellowship from an early age. I didn’t know that NA (Narcotics Anonymous) existed though.

My father was an alcoholic. He became sober when I was a small child. Growing up and throughout my adult life, my Dad and I had a very close-knit relationship.

However, when I turned fifteen, my Dad had a car accident. The trauma of that was enough to propel him to start drinking again.

To say that my world was turned upside down is a bit of an understatement. Dad was my best friend and for the first time in my life I began to feel the consequences of addiction.

His alcohol use became chronic, until he picked up marijuana. Weed was used as a “shield” against alcohol. He joined AA, became sober, but continued to smoke weed.

I grew up with marijuana. My mum also smoked it. I was really none the wiser about it. It was completely accepted within my family.

Using didn’t start for me until I moved out of home. It started with alcohol – a couple of times I drank to the point of being unconscious.

At nineteen, I remember Dad going to AA. It planted a bit of a seed, I think. Dad wanted to help me.

At the age of 20 I was still drinking as well as smoking weed with Dad. We considered it a wonder drug as it kept Dad from drinking.

At 25 my drinking increased. It wasn’t smooth sailing for me. I was experiencing blackouts from alcohol use.

Again, Dad planted the seed of AA and told me when I was ready he would take me to my first meeting.

It was just after my 30th birthday the depression, blackouts and fear got me to ring him and say “I’ve hit rock bottom”.

That night I went to my first meeting at Nundah in Brisbane. My Dad who was sober at the time was a very happy and relieved man.

However, we still continued to use what we thought was our addictive saviour, weed.

Honestly, I didn’t know the danger. I attained being clean by not using alcohol, but I was still smoking weed.

I moved away from home and Dad relapsed. Mum wasn’t much better. By now she’d become institutionalised in the addictive lifestyle. Dad’s drinking had caused her a lot of pain.

By the time I reached my 40s, I was still sober and not drinking alcohol. I dropped AA meetings. Dad had been my sponsor. I remember doing Step One and then Step Eight. Dad and I formed an even closer bond due to his sponsorship.

Eventually I became Dad’s carer before he passed away ten years ago.

During this time, he stopped using weed. He told me that he felt terrible for starting me on it. He begged me to stop using it. He died as a clean man. Losing my best friend and confidant was hard.

I grew up as a musician and was playing in bands and with that came some dabbling in drugs, like speed on weekends. It was a pretty unbalanced lifestyle.

As fate would have it, I met Cameron Doomadagee’s family and played a gig for him. Cameron was an Indigenous man who died in police custody on Palm Island in 2014, which sparked riots on the island.

His family, and the Aboriginal community had an immediate spiritual impact upon me. They welcomed me as one of their own into their family. It was to be the start of my healing journey. I was still smoking weed however.

By 2017, I belonged in my Aboriginal family. I moved to their remote community in Doomadgee to become a better person.

I remained clean from alcohol, but still carried my marijuana addiction – which was getting expensive, living in such a remote area. I tried to limit my weed consumption. I did not want to upset the Elders who frowned upon drug use.

I got a job working as a school bus driver. I never smoked weed at work.

In 2019 I noticed how much I was suffering from my marijuana use. I was irritable, depressed and felt hopeless.

That was when I knew if I was to become a better person I would have to stop weed and go to rehab.

Around the same time, I met my now partner online. He’s the smartest man, a philosopher, and we shared our life based on the “Four Agreements”, a book penned by Don Miguel Ruiz.

One evening he called me out on my weed use. I agreed to rehab. I knew that he was calling me out because he cared for me, which helped make my decision to go to rehab.

I knew that I wanted to go to a private rehab. Getting the right treatment was very important to me and I wanted it to work. Years before I’d seen Dad go through the public system and didn’t have a lot of faith in it. This was to be the most important thing I’ve done in my life and wanted it to be right.

I called the Hader Clinic Queensland. I spoke to the admissions staff, who just turned any hesitation or fear that I may have had around. The way they spoke to me on the phone was welcoming and compassionate. I was immediately comfortable with my decision to choose Hader Clinic Queensland.

I didn’t know what I was in for when I walked down those now famous steps into the residential rehab facility. Mark and Donna were there to greet me.

I have to say that Mark is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. In fact, during my first lesson with Mark, the penny dropped. Mark told us that “only 5% of the class will remain sober” – and the hope, the inspiration he gave me, made me determined that I was going to be in that 5%. My respect for Mark and Donna will forever be in my heart. Their love and passion put me on the road of recovery. I love them both dearly for that.

At that stage I also knew that I was going to stay for ninety days, not thirty. Mark has gone above and beyond in his teaching of the twelve step principles. In addition, Donna and JJ are two of the kindest and loving people I’ve ever met.

The feelings of isolation and depression when you hit your rock bottom made the decision to pay for my own rehab an easy one. It helped me shore up accountability to myself as well.

Today, I’m back home and back at work. I remain happily in my relationship with my partner who walks with me every step of the way.

One of the keys to my recovery has been my partner’s understanding of my addiction. We have a morning check in every day and this gets my day off to the best possible start. My sponsor is a big part of my recovery as well.

I cannot say enough good things about my experience at The Hader Clinic Queensland. I’m looking forward to returning to the residential rehab for “give back”. Sobriety is a gift, and I’m so grateful for every event that led me down this path.

Lori’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

At 58, Lori didn’t expect to find herself in rehab for treatment of alcohol addiction and as soon as she took action, everything changed.

Hi, my name is Lori and this is my addiction recovery story.

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of our family background of alcoholism until my early twenties. I grew up with an alcoholic father. He wasn’t what you’d describe as a “happy drunk”. He would yell and scream and pour venomous words upon me about how worthless and useless I was.

I hated the way he treated me – and at the time, I couldn’t differentiate his normal behaviour from how he behaved when he was drinking.

I had always equated being alcoholic as being homeless and sitting in a park with a paper bag. Until my sister told me, I had no idea.

I was seventeen when I first tried alcohol. I remember getting drunk on a Friday or a Saturday night occasionally, but it wasn’t until I was living with my boyfriend that I started to have more awareness around it. For example, once I was having a nice night out with my girlfriends, and my boyfriend was with his mates. He got so drunk that I locked him out of the house, because he reminded me of my Dad.

Looking back, I started my adult years with shaky foundations in regards to my self confidence and self worth.

I met my husband-to-be when I was 23, and got married at 25. I can’t even remember alcohol being a part of my life for many, many years. I may have had a drink at Christmas time, or on someone’s birthday – it really didn’t feature in my life.

There was particularly one time I remember getting drunk – this was shortly after my daughter was born and we wanted to celebrate. I recall having one drink too many, and remember putting my arm through a glass window.

After that, I didn’t drink again for several years – I would have a few drinks every now and again with one of my girlfriends, but that was it. Other than with her, it was only at special times like Christmas or birthdays.

What flipped the switch towards addiction was a big emotional upheaval. My husband walked out on me in 2010 and acquired a new girlfriend.

My girlfriend was a big drinker and loved a party. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with her.

She invited me to Hamilton Island with her and her children. It was an unusual situation to be in to say the least. She was still a big drinker and I would go out and drink with her.

However, once I was away from her, any desire to drink at all disappeared.

While I was still on Hamilton Island, I met my now ex-boyfriend. He was a daily drinker.

When he moved in, there’d always be a drink at home waiting for me. And this is where it all started in 2011.

I remember coming home from Hamilton Island, and when we talked, we’d have drinks in hand. He drank every day.

In this environment, alcohol consumption started to become a bit of habit. It really crept up on me quite insidiously. I’d come home after work, have a few drinks, cooked dinner etc etc.

After two years, the boyfriend decided that things weren’t working out. I was going through my divorce at that stage and I think that he was sick of my ex husband taking front and centre during this time.

He packed his bags and moved to Queensland.

I decided to follow him. I uprooted my life, basically, and moved away from my family to a location where I knew nobody. Little did I know that I was inadvertently creating the ‘perfect storm’ for addiction to take hold – I was unintentionally isolating myself from loved ones.

Then, the relationship did not work out the way I wanted it to. I was also unwell and on opiates for a couple of years to treat pain. I was depressed and miserable.

When I was taken off the opiates, that was it, my drinking took over.

I was lonely, I had no purpose in my life.

I found rehab through my psychologist at 58 years old. I’d never lived in a share house (as I’m doing now in the Transition Housing Program). I’d always lived either alone or with my family.

Rehab made me realise that I was lonely. At rehab, I was surrounded by other people and it helped improve my mood. I’d tried a couple of detoxes in hospital and I’d do well – but as soon as you put me back in the real world, it would be a different story! Residential rehab provided the connection that I needed.

It was a good experience. I thought that I was doing OK during the first four to five weeks when something happened I wasn’t expecting.

The staff told me quite bluntly that I wasn’t willing to work the program.

Those words felt like a smack in the teeth. “Yes, I am!” I thought. “I’m doing everything you ask!”

However, it made me stop and take a look at myself – and it was at that point, I realised the staff were right. I wasn’t willing. In the whole recovery process I’d been going through the motions and “doing the right thing” but I wasn’t being an active participant – I wasn’t taking action.

From that point on, things changed as I decided to change.

Upon reflection, I acknowledged that I’d been to therapy for many years – but once it got too hard, I’d just run the other way. I thought I was willing to find an answer, because I kept going back to the doctor and saying “what can we do?”

I’d listen to them, I’d attend therapy every week but in between these times nothing changed. I had the perception that showing up for my appointments was enough to get me well. Of course, this wasn’t true. Therefore, the seed was planted that although I said everything right, and read self help books, I wasn’t really willing to take action.

The intent was there, but there was no follow through. I wanted a solution, I really did, but there was no action. I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is really important.

As soon as I took action, everything changed. My attitude changed.

Now, I see that I viewed life negatively over the years. I never saw the positives in myself, because my Dad was always drumming into me how awful I was.

I was fearful. I would sabotage any opportunities I had because that’s the only thing I knew. Because I was scared, I never gave anything a go.

Life is exciting now, and full of possibility. I have to keep learning that it’s about what I want now, because I’ve spent my whole life believing that I’m not worthy of much.

I am really thankful that I went to The Hader Clinic Queensland. When I did the private detoxes, I just returned to the life I had. I had that “inaction” attitude as well – I’d front up every week and listen, but I wouldn’t do the homework because I’d say, “I don’t know how to do it,” or, “I can’t do it”. I had hoped fronting up for 26 weeks of outpatient therapy would somehow magically change me because I’d turned up.

I’m now undertaking a Transition Housing program. It’s based around being a therapeutic community – everyone wants recovery and we can support each other. Being in the group gave me more confidence. I felt like I had a cheer squad. People with in the group told me that I needed to be more confident. It was good to experience this with people who weren’t my immediate family. That meant a lot to me – that other people who weren’t family wanted to support me for myself. I felt that everyone was there just as much for me as they were for themselves.

I’m doing meetings twice a day – for the first week I was pretty tired doing face to face meetings, so now I’m doing one face to face meeting and one online meeting which is giving me a better balance. I have also found a great sponsor, who is wonderful. She gives me half an hour of her day, five days a week. We talk at 6:30am each morning, and although it’s early, it starts my day in the best possible way.

I don’t mind living in a share house either. It’s just an experience I would have never otherwise had in my life. It feels right, I guess.

Life is on the up and up. It’s great to now see the glass half full instead of half empty. I will have some decisions to make about whether I move closer to home to be with my family, but for the next month or so, I’m focusing on completing the Transitional Housing Program, one day at a time.

I am appreciative towards the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland. That so many have lived experience of addiction themselves, gives extra meaningfulness to any tips they give you.

Thank you to the Hader Clinic Queensland for opening my eyes to this brand new life.

One Day at a Time

When it comes to managing his alcohol addiction Scott is taking it one day at a time.

My name is Scott and I’m currently undertaking the transitional housing program at The Hader Clinic Queensland.

I’m 54, and served in the army for several years, until I moved back into civilian life and took up work in underground mining.

My disease started when I was twenty. I was offered speed (methamphetamines) at work and from the first moment when that needle went in, I was hooked. You could say that I was virtually addicted from day one.

Addiction was a traumatic experience. It led me to homelessness, until I found the army. However, my addiction was stronger than my desire to curb it – and over the following fifteen years, my life became unmanageable.

I attended a rehabilitation program for my speed use and managed to get off, and stay off the drug.

However, at the same time, I left the army and started working in the mining industry. This is an industry where everybody knocks off, and goes to the pub together.

I was a willing participant. My addiction to alcohol crept up on me insidiously. Even though I had attended rehab for methamphetamine use, I had no idea that I was feeding my addictive desires with a new substance. There had been no education around remaining abstinent from ALL substances of abuse, so I didn’t think anything of drinking at first.

It started off with drinking at camp – these are the residential facilities that are provided to mine workers as most mining locations are quite remote. Then I started drinking at home on my days off.

In my mind, I was a success. I was holding down a job, paying my bills and rent. Therefore, at that time, I didn’t consider alcohol to be a problem for me.

However, after six or seven years of escalating alcohol consumption, I had to admit defeat. Again, my life was becoming unmanageable. I was breathalysed at work and lost my job. I was unemployable.

Naturally by this time, I knew that alcohol was the problem. I tried to wean myself off it, but landed in hospital with seizures.

Then I started rehab – I did a couple that were based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Unfortunately, they didn’t keep me sober for long.

My counsellor from “Lives Lived Well” found the Hader Clinic Queensland by mistake. How grateful I am for that “mistake”!

I discovered that the Hader Clinic Queensland’s program was based on a “12 Step” model. I decided to give it a go.

However, it took three goes before I finally surrendered to, and understood, the fact that addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such.

To be honest, even though I did well in rehab those first and second times, my addiction convinced me that I was OK, that I didn’t need to continually keep working my program.

However, something in me kept reaching back to the staff at The Hader Clinic Queensland for help.

You see, The Hader Clinic Queensland was the only rehab I’ve been to where I was educated in how the disease of addiction plays out. Even though I was taught the consequences of addiction, I wasn’t listening to the staff – for example, I didn’t do the transition program as they suggested.

Now, after my third stint at the residential rehab, I am currently living in the transition house. I have been there for a month. I can see the value in it and I like the accountability it provides, whilst still allowing me to practice my own living skills. It’s a new experience, living with eight others, but it is teaching me acceptance and patience – plus it’s great to connect with others who are fighting similar battles.

Between my first and second experiences in residential rehab, I knew I wasn’t being 100% honest about working my program and drinking. I guess I thought I could manage, but it was the disease fooling me. Deep down, there’s also been this hope that I could be “normal”, that I could have a drink like everyone else and not be affected like I am. The staff at the clinic have told me that it’s not uncommon to have these thoughts.

It’s taken me a while to accept the fact that for my health (and sanity), that I can never pick up a drink again. To be honest, I felt grief that I couldn’t drink again.

However, now I am beginning to accept that I have a disease and that abstinence is part of the treatment.

Going to meetings and understanding that I am not alone in suffering from the disease of addiction has also helped – that people who look and seem “normal” are, in fact, just like me.

Initially I had a false expectation of what life would be like in recovery – it was a bit disappointing that when I got home, everything was the same. However, I am realising that I am the one who is changing.

In the residential rehab, I found all the staff very supportive – from Sue, who does the shopping, to Mark and Jay and Robyn. I appreciate that many of them have lived experience with addiction and are now living fantastic lives.

My plan is to continue with my Transition Housing program. I am taking the time I need in recovery – “one day at a time” is where it is really at.

I’m looking forward to the future and thank the Hader Clinic Queensland for their patience, care and continual encouragement on my journey back to good health.

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