Alexia Kimmich, Author at Hader Clinic Queensland

Medicinal vs Illicit Cannabis

A Jekyll and Hyde drug: learn the differences between the benefits of medicinal cannabis and the harms of using cannabis as a drug of addiction.

Over the past decade there has been a push to decriminalise cannabis across the world, and the in favour of decriminalisation cite that the drug is not as addictive as alcohol or nicotine, that cannabis exerts positive medicinal properties in the treatment of pain and medical conditions such as epilepsy.

In Australia, cannabis has been legalised for medical use under strict prescribing conditions for certain medical conditions and recreational cannabis use is illegal. Does the positive medical benefits for some outshine the potential harms of recreational cannabis use?

Marijuana or cannabis refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant.

Cannabis acts a depressant drug, which slows down communication between the brain and the body. The active ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). It is usually smoked or eaten. THC achieves its mind altering effects by substituting itself for natural brain endocannabinoids, and mimics (and enhances) their effects. It works through the same chemical pathways that we use to modulate thoughts, experiences and emotions. As THC floods the entire brain, rather than acting in a targeted manner like natural endocannabinoids do, cannabis can seem to make the most boring activity take on technicolour meaning.

However, there is a dark side to these effects – excessive use of cannabis shuts down the brain’s intrinsic release of endocannabinoids to compensate for excessive stimulation. The consequences of excessive use impair our ability to attach meaning, value or importance to our experience. Worse still, excessive use in adolescents can render permanent damage. The Washington Post reports that teen cannabis users are 60% less likely to graduate from high school and are at substantially increased risk for heroin and alcohol addiction, not to mention seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

The Washington Post’s Judith Grisel also reports that the best documented medicinal effects of cannabis are achieved without the chemical compound that gets users high.

She states, “the notion that cannabis is not addictive is false as the brain adapts to cannabis use as it does to all abused drugs, and these neural adjustments lead to tolerance, dependence and craving – the hallmarks of addiction”.

The effects of cannabis are felt immediately when smoked, however the potency of a particular batch of cannabis cannot be quantified, which adds to the danger. In large quantities, cannabis use causes blurred vision, clumsiness and paranoid delusions which are amplified if use is long term.

Drug users often combine cannabis with other drugs or alcohol and cannabis is often used when “coming down” from methamphetamines. Using cannabis with other drugs promotes drug dependency across all of the substances used. This is why cannabis is often referred to as a “gateway drug” for escalating dependence on other substances. Cannabis in conjunction with methamphetamines can worsen the paranoid delusion and psychosis that occur with each single substance use. Combined with alcohol or opioids, cannabis use can heighten these substances depressive effects. Concerningly, this combination promotes respiratory depression (excessively slowed breathing), which can increase blood carbon dioxide levels and induce respiratory arrest – the cessation of breathing, which is potentially fatal.

To conclude, it is important to differentiate between the risks of using cannabis recreationally as opposed for controlled medical use. No amount of drug use is safe and if you’d like to know more about cannabis dependence please feel free to call The Hader Clinic Queensland for an obligation free consultation.

  1. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/cannabis/
  2. Grisel, J. May 25 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/05/25/feature/legalizReferences:ing-marijuana-is-fine-but-dont-ignore-the-science-on-its-dangers/?

The Physical Effects of Cannabis

Cannabis or marijuana is the most commonly used drug in 12-17 year olds and the younger the user, the greater the chances of becoming addicted to it are, even when the physical effects of cannabis negatively affects your health.

Cannabis is often referred to as a gateway drug and users will often experiment with other harder drugs once they have tried cannabis.

It is therefore very important to address any addiction issues or concerns before further drug experimentation.

About Cannabis

Cannabis also known as weed, dope, grass or pot can be smoked or vaped, but also used in food and drinks.

It is used mostly for pleasure or recreation; however, it is becoming more and more popularly prescribed by doctors to treat a number of medical ailments.

The physical effects of cannabis on your body may vary depending on the way the drug is ingested.

If inhaled, the drug enters the bloodstream immediately and can make its way to your organs and brain. This can happen in seconds or minutes.

If you eat or drink products that contain cannabis, it must first go through your digestive system and liver before making it into your bloodstream, which can happen in minutes to hours.

The main active ingredient of cannabis is THC, which stimulates the part of the brain which responds to pleasure. As a result, dopamine is released, which creates a relaxed and euphoric state.

This is also known as a ‘high’. THC can also help with pain and nausea or cause a reduction in appetite or insomnia, which is why marijuana is sometimes prescribed medically.

Physical Effects of Cannabis

Cannabis has a significant impact on the brain and the body, which means it can quickly become addictive. The physical effects of cannabis include:

  • Affect your ability to form new memories
  • Increase your appetite
  • Slow your reaction time and cloud your judgement
  • Have respiratory effect such as irritating your lungs, burning your mouth or throat, and increase your risk of bronchitis
  • Effect your circulation by increasing your heart rate and expanding your blood vessels, causing redness of the eyes
  • Release dopamine to trigger euphoric feelings and heighten your sensory perception
  • Alter your ability to process information and impair your judgement
  • Weaken your immune system making you vulnerable to infection
  • Impact your baby if you are pregnant, reducing their memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities
  • Make you frightened, anxious, paranoid or panicked
  • Negatively impact your mental health by increasing the chances of depression or worsen existing mental disorders
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Poor memory
  • Addiction

Mental Health Effects of Cannabis

There are many mental health effects as well as physical effects of cannabis use.

As cannabis is a psychoactive substance it can also have significant effects on a user’s mental health.

In some cases these can be more severe than with other ‘harder’ drugs. The mental health effects of cannabis include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Nervousness
  • Aggression
  • Anger

Cannabis Addiction

Roughly one in ten individuals who use cannabis are at risk of becoming addicted. Being addicted to cannabis means you will continue using the drug even if it negatively effects your health, work life, home life, finances or relationships.

The chances for becoming addicted to cannabis are higher the younger you are. Addiction rates also increase if you use the drug heavily.

If you become physically dependent on marijuana, you will experience withdrawal symptoms that may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach and digestive system
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Detoxing from Cannabis

The first step of cannabis addiction treatment is detoxing – the process of letting the body remove the drugs in it. Detox should be professionally supervised to safely manage the withdrawal symptoms of the physical effects of cannabis use.

Depending on the addiction history of the individual, but especially when other drugs of addiction are being used, a medically supervised hospital drug detox is recommended.

A hospital detox is usually necessary where poly drug use (concurrent use of multiple substances) is present.

Because there are both physical and psychological components of cannabis addiction, a psychosocial recovery program should be used in tandem with hospital detox for the best outcome.

 

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10575775/
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2777817

Why You Shouldn’t Self-Detox

When it comes to detoxing from drugs or alcohol, should you choose to self-detox or undergo a medically supervised detox and withdrawal program

There is only one answer; detoxing and withdrawing from drug use should only be done under a specialist medically supervised program.

Choosing to self-detox or trying to stop “cold turkey” (meaning you simply stop using drugs and/or drinking) can lead to drug and alcohol users putting themselves at serious risk of harm, both physically and mentally.

When a person has used alcohol or drugs over a sustained period of time, sudden withdrawal can send the body into shock, which can lead to life-threatening seizures and cause permanent brain damage.

Addiction is a disease

To understand why self-detox is a bad idea, you have to understand how addiction works.

Addiction is a disease that affects users mentally and physically; they become dependent of their substance of choice to function normally.

Sustained substance abuse means the user’s body becomes accustomed to a certain level of toxicity and adjusts its workings accordingly.

So, when you self-detox there are several physical risks as your body tries to cope with the sudden change.

Common withdrawal symptoms

Common symptoms experienced by users going through acute drug and alcohol withdrawal in the early stages of detox include:

  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Severe headaches
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Joint pain
  • Feelings of despair, depression, fear

These symptoms occur when the body attempts to regain a state known as homeostasis.

Attempting to self-detox can be gruelling on you and anyone who might share your home. In fact, the experience can be so jarring that many users are reluctant to try detox again should they relapse after unsupported withdrawal.

Why choose a detox program

  • Specialist detox facilities are prepared to deal with the dangers of withdrawal and their detoxification programs are designed to minimise the risk of permanent damage and ease the discomfort of early withdrawal.
  • They also provide abstinence-based programs that focuses on patients’ long term recovery free of alcohol and drugs.
  • The detox programs are supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a medical team.
  • The Hader Clinic’s detox and withdrawal program is covered by all leading private health care funds.
  • Access to mental health support
  • Quick admission
  • Pathways to long term addiction recovery treatment

Getting help

Remember, no one chooses to develop a substance abuse problem and everyone is worthy of help. While you may have good intentions to try self-detoxing, it is always recommended to detox safely under medical supervision.

For more information on detoxing and available detox programs please contact the Hader Clinic Queensland on 1300 856 847.

 

Our Son’s Addiction Recovery

Hello, we’re Michele and Ed – we are the parents of Lawrence, who completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation program.

We thought that we would share our journey with addiction, because, although we didn’t know it, we were also living an addictive lifestyle when Lawry was in the full grip of his ice addiction.

Our journey has been one of perseverance, of trying to get by. We are fortunate to have each other for support, as things had become overwhelming, grim, and unmanageable for most of the time.

We were aware of a change in the characteristics of our son – his behaviour appeared erratic at times, not the logical, kind, and thoughtful person who we knew. Something was amiss, and Lawrence had a knack of deflecting that managed to make Ed & I begin to second guess ourselves.

We have always been a tight knit family. However, when the addictive behaviours became a regular occurrence – a lot of disagreement and conflict grew between us over Lawrence’s addiction.

We were not completely sure what we were dealing with – Lawrence had convincing moments of clarity that would last for some time, and we thought we had had a reprieve.

Life would be as we had once known; our son and grandkids that we loved and adored could live their lives in a normal stable environment.

Ed and I thought we were doing things that were supportive and proactive to assist Lawrence in achieving his goals. We made the most common mistake! – thinking that enough “self will power” or education/information would be the magic formula to stop the merry go round.

“WE” just needed to try harder!!

Rock bottoms kept moving – surely Lawrence had had enough (we would think). Ed and I were emotionally, mentally and physically spent, there was nothing left in the tank. The journey had nearly broken us. We felt we had exhausted all our resources and the stress was unbearable.

Our working lives were affected. We juggled work and sleep deprivation, knowing that we could specifically hear his car driving around the neighbourhood at 2-3 am in the morning – we live in a small town and his V8 car made a distinctive noise.

We knew that he was either “coming down” or trying to look for more. It was concerning –there were the phone calls – they were scary – hearing from people we did not want to hear from. Also, there were other calls, from the cops, either arresting him, or coming around to our place to see where he was.

It took us a long time to understand the patterns of use – in the addiction cycle, the highs, the lows.

We were addicts in a way too, as we followed the cycle, followed the trends. To have a conversation was tenuous as we were always on tenterhooks trying not to pass judgement or touch on a subject that would create a scene or conflict.

This was our normal now, it was touchy terrain, especially with the children. We had placed our focus on them and their welfare.

The children had become a leverage that was used against us, and it broke us even further.

Our “normal” was certainly not normal at all. Our attempts to be normal grandparents were embedded in the addictive lifestyle. We tried to figure out ways to see the grandkids, to make sure they were safe. However, being concerned for their safety and welfare meant that we were enabling.

It was hard to stop because it was the grandkids that were hurting the most. To turn our backs and walk away was almost impossible.

However, we knew we had to try other tactics to get them to school, to have them washed, clean, and well fed. If we got too close or too involved, they would be snatched away from us.

It was a long chaotic journey, and we were all weary. There were times where we needed something/someone to intervene, but we could not find it/them.

We had become concerned for Lawrences mental wellbeing due to a horrific accident that sent Lawrence into a downward spiral where we could no longer reach him.

One day – Lawrence had had enough and decided to seek help.

When Lawrence was accepted into rehab, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders. It was nice to be able to go to sleep at night and not worry about where he was or what he was doing – or whether the kids were ok.

We have participated in the family nights with Olivia, the staff psychologist. We were involved when Lawrence first signed in down in Brisbane, we got involved with the Zoom meetings and read, “Am I Living with an Addict?

It was an eye opener. We wondered where this book had been when we were looking for any threads of hope that may have offered a solution. It was a relief to read it and know that we were not alone. It was also a relief to speak to other families who were in the same position.

When we visited Lawrence on the weekends at the rehab, we met other families who were visiting their own loved one. We got to learn about other people and their journeys. Until this time, we thought that no one else would vaguely understand. It was a relief to know other people had similar experiences to us.

Our relationship with Lawrence began to change for the better once he was in rehab. We could see that he was mentally getting better. His eyes became clearer, and his focus came back. That “dead” drug addicted look was receding. We were witnessing the transformation back to the person and son that we used to know so well.

We wanted to be there for him and support him the whole way. We could see the change in him, almost straight away. We wanted to be part of his recovery as we had been there under duress for everything that had come before, which was horrible.

To see the happy side of him come back, to visit him where he didn’t “want” anything from us, it was uplifting.

The enabling could finally stop.

The only time he had wanted to see us in active addiction was when he wanted us to pay for something – his rent, his power bill or food (there was always a hustle for money).

Lawrence was adamant that the Hader Clinic Queensland was offering a solution for what he was seeking – We feel it was a great choice!

There have been some wobbly moments over the past eighteen months. There were a few darker times when he could have possibly picked up again. The program helped him to understand he had a new set of instructions to work things out, plus we were here with him talking through it as well.

We (especially Michele), would talk to him about the 12 Step program, using it as a means of conversation. Michele quit drinking, has a sponsor, attends AA and does the 12 Steps too. We have become the transition house in a way. We try to follow at our place along the lines of the Hader Clinic Queensland’s transition program.

Lawrence is progressing with his recovery and continues to share his experiences, strengths and hopes with others in the community. We are grateful to hear such enthusiasm that Lawrence has when he talks about a solution to others that reach out.

As for us, we would encourage other parents not to give up. Try to stay and be a part of their lives. Try to love them as much as you can.

At the end of the day, they are sick people trying to get well – not bad people trying to be good – it’s your family. It’s the drug that has taken over, not the person. Encourage rehab and don’t enable. Help is available if you need it.

The future? We take it one day at a time. We try to stay in the moment. We follow a routine. We use the tools. Each day we try to be kind and loving toward each other, and that is including ourselves.

We are grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for helping our family.

Common Roadblocks that Stop you Seeking Addiction Treatment

It takes a lot of willpower and strength to begin the journey into drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

Often, multiple roadblocks will arise that make it difficult to continue down the road to recovery. Let’s explore some of the common roadblocks and how to overcome them:

The cost of rehab

Many people will be deterred by the cost of rehab. It is an assumption that insurance does not cover rehab costs, however most private health insurance providers do provide some cover for alcohol and drug rehab services, and at the Hader Clinic Queensland, we provide an obligation-free initial consultation that is completely free of charge.

It is also important to consider that the cost of a drug addiction is much higher than the cost of a rehab program. There are fees associated with court, theft and property damages, healthcare, decreased productivity and cost of the drugs themselves that can all culminate in a very expensive addiction. There are also personal costs involved such as emotional, social and physical tolls on you and your loved ones as a result of a drug addiction.

Time commitments of rehab

The time commitment required for rehab is another roadblock that may cause setbacks. Many individuals believe rehab will take up a significant amount of time away from their work or loved ones.

When you think about the time required for rehab, it is important to remember that you need to put some time in to recover. Addictions require professional help and constant management, and cannot be resolved without putting in time to heal. Consider that you will use up more time neglecting a treatment plan, and that your overall quality of life will be improved as a result of the time sacrifice.

Career responsibilities

Job responsibilities are a big reason why individuals may reject addiction treatment. It can be the fear of missing out on work or career goals, or the fear of getting fired due to the drug addiction. You must remember that your addiction will be more damaging to your career than addiction treatment will be. Outpatient treatment options can also be considered that don’t require you to be present in a professional facility 24/7.

Fear of losing friends

Many people who are addicted to drugs often find themselves surrounded with others who contribute to their addiction. You may consider these people your friends, but you shouldn’t fear losing people who are negatively impacting your life.

You may not realise it now, but these people are enabling your addiction. Seeking treatment may require you to cut off some of these ‘friends’ and instead rely on a healthier support system. You may also be the positive example your addicted friends need to seek treatment themselves.

Denial

Denial is the hardest obstacle to overcome if you are trying to seek treatment. There are many turning points that may help you overcome denial, such as losing a job, having a conversation with a loved one, receiving an injury or being arrested. It can be helpful to learn about the science of addiction and the help resources available to you.

If you are struggling to overcome roadblocks to treatment, the Hader Clinic Queensland can offer suggestions for how to get back on track with your life and overcome these obstacles.

 

Is Addiction a Disease?

Is addiction a disease? Yes it is, but unfortunately it is still a popular opinion that addiction is a choice rather than a chronic disease.

This adds to the considerable social stigma addicts and their friends and families face every day, which sometimes acts a barrier for those seeking addiction treatment.

How is addiction a disease?

It is absolutely true that you can’t “catch” addiction like a common cold or virus nor is it a moral failing. Addiction will always start from a decision to experiment with drugs or alcohol, however, when we look at the way addiction works, this is the only major difference between addiction and what we accept to be a disease.

While the act of using a substance is a choice, the process of becoming an addict is not.

No one chooses to develop a substance abuse disorder; addictions evolve over time, changing the brain function and even the brain structure of the user, until quitting is no longer simply a matter of will power.

Most addictive substances overstimulate the production of chemicals that occur naturally in the brain – such as dopamine, adrenalin, endorphins, serotonin – thus giving the user feelings of euphoria and heightened confidence.

Once the effects of the drugs or alcohol wear off, the user is left with a deficit of these chemicals, leading to a steep decline in well-being and subsequent cravings for more drugs to re-establish the sensation of being high and happy.

Depending on how susceptible a person is to the effects of a substance, and depending on their natural capacity to produce these chemicals, the brain will, over time, change in order to accommodate the effects of frequent drug or alcohol use.

Once an addiction has taken hold, it is bound to have negative effects on most areas of the addicts life, much like chronic diseases which lower the quality of the sufferers’ lives significantly.

Addicts are likely to experience physical changes, health problems, social problems and mental health issues as a result of their substance abuse.

Once substance abuse has moved past a person’s control, which is one of the defining characteristics of an addiction, they are going to require professional help in order to be able to break the cycle of addiction.

What difference does it make to treat addiction like a disease?

The biggest upside of recognising addiction as a disease is the instant removal of social stigma.

Addicts are often reluctant to admit their substance abuse issues to themselves or their loved ones, because they fear harsh judgement.

If we understand addiction as a chronic disease, seeking help becomes less daunting and this empowers addicts to take steps towards recovery.

Addiction is not just a physical condition, it is also heavily impacting the users’ mental health, which is why holistic treatments for substance abuse disorders are required for successful treatment.

Addicts beginning the recovery process require not just medical supervision in order to manage their physical withdrawal symptoms, they also need in-depth therapy and mental-health support in order to beat their cravings, break destructive behaviour patterns and understand the triggers that might lead to relapse.

Can addiction be “cured”?

Addiction, much like chronic disease, can not be cured in the traditional sense, however a successful addiction treatment program will address not only the physical, but the emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual aspects of recovery. This helps the recovered addict manage their addictive behaviours and prevent relapse.

Recovery is not possible until a person can recognise the triggers for their addictive behaviour. Identifying and eliminating or minimising triggers is an important step in the journey of recovery.

Sources

https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/brain-health/science-says-addiction-a-chronic-disease-not-a-moral-failing
https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/02._webcast_2_resources.pdf
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/addiction-science

How Effective is Rehab for Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

So how effective is rehab for drug and alcohol addiction? Put simply, very. Residential addiction treatment is the most effective form of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Drug and alcohol rehab is considered successful when the person is abstinent from drug and alcohol use, and they can manage their addictive behaviours. The person’s quality of life will improve as they are able to live their life normally and free from addiction.

How we assess how effective addiction treatment is

There are several criteria to be considered when assessing the effectiveness of addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol, including:

  • Abstinence from drug and alcohol use
  • Improved and sustained employment
  • Higher performance in studies
  • Healing relationships with friends and family
  • Cessation of criminal activity
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved emotional state
  • Improved physical health

Addiction recovery is a life-long process and unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and feelings of defeat and hopelessness. It is important to understand that every day of sobriety and every improvement, no matter how small, constitutes a win.

How to maximise the effectiveness of addiction treatment?

Long-term recovery and behavioural changes are significantly more likely if the complete rehabilitation process is completed. This process includes:

  • Medical detox – the process of removing the substance from the body and managing the acute withdrawal symptoms safely under medical supervision.
  • Psychosocial education program – a range of psychological therapies, including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and strategies on how to manage the person’s addiction.
  • Residential treatment – a period of 30 to 60 additional days spent at a treatment facility, where the education, counselling and therapy program is continued, equipping the person with the life skills necessary to live a normal life free of drugs and alcohol.
  • Transitional housing – a safe, secure, and supportive living environment designed to help the person integrate into normal life. The person is supported through regular group meetings, individual counselling sessions, and daily AA and NA meetings.
  • Aftercare – support is always important for a recovering addict, so aftercare still involves regular meetings and check-ups with GPs and counsellors.

Relapse does not mean failure

Recovery is a process and, unfortunately, sometimes a relapse can occur. However, a relapse does not mean the recovery process has failed.

A relapse can occur as an isolated incident or involve several weeks of engaging in addictive behaviours. It is important to recognise the signs of relapse and act quickly.

This could involve medical detox, and readmission into residential rehab.

Even though relapse can occur, long-term recovery is possible. Recovery isn’t easy – but it’s possible

Support and help is essential

If drug and alcohol use is impacting your ability to live a fulfilling life, support and treatment is available. To find out what help is available, please get in touch.

 

Sources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment

Steve’s Drug Addiction Recovery

After being put in jail in his early fifties, Steve completed the residential addiction treatment program for drug addiction with the Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

Hey, my name’s Steve, and I’m fifty-five years old. I’m currently undertaking the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program. I’ve been a drug user for over forty years. You could say that before I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, that I knew no other life.

It all started in my early teens. My old man, who’s an ex-bikie, called me and my brother into the kitchen one night. He had some hash on the stove and he said, “go on, try it”. We smoked it thorough an old milk bottle with the bottom broken out of it and two knives on the stove.

So, my brother and I used to smoke hash underneath the house with Dad. We’d be up all-night giggling. We all thought it was bloody great. And that’s where it really started. Later on, I got into the weed and after I got married and started working a lot of twelve-hour shifts, I started getting into the speed and then got into the rock (ice), and things just got worse.

I got really bad into the ice when my mother died, and I’ve never really gotten over that. That was about ten to fifteen years ago.

My wife never got into the ice or anything. I got her into it about ten years ago. I wish now that I’d never let her try it. I was working in transport. We’ve always been pot smokers – and hash, and got onto the eccies, and acid trips. Had a crack at everything except heroin. I’ve always been a smoker, not an injector.

The smoking of meth caused aneurysms in my brain. I haven’t had them attended to yet but smoking all that crack gave them to me. It’s a good reason to stay off it.

How did I get to rehab? Well, that’s a bit of a story. When COVID-19 hit, the price of meth went through the roof. So, my partner and I turned to selling to maintain our habit. Then I got caught and sent to jail. I was there for three months and was offered the opportunity to be bailed, so long as I went to a live-in rehab, which I did for three months and had to wear a tracker on my ankle.

Honestly, I had no clue that rehab even existed – that there was a place that could help people like me. I just thought it was a way to get out of jail. Initially, I didn’t want to be there when I was in jail, but then I got there and started learning about the 12-step program.

I started reading the text.

“This is about me,” I thought. Being raided by the cops saved my life. The pain of trying to maintain my addiction through COVID-19 had planted the seed in my mind that I’d had enough.  Once I started reading about it, I started liking it – and then I started learning it. I thought, “I have to do this”.

And I did do it. And I’m going to stay clean.

While I was devastated to be in prison, I was relieved at the same time. I didn’t touch drugs in jail. I decided that I wanted to stop using for good.

My partner, however, wasn’t keen on stopping. Before we got raided, we were arguing a lot – we’d never been like that before. I said, “this has got to stop. I’ve had enough”.

I was relieved when we were raided. Yes, I was finished, you know. Because my partner didn’t want to get clean, it stopped me. You really have to both want the same thing in order to stay away from the drugs.

At my worst, I’d be collapsing to the ground and not knowing I had these aneurysms. I thought it was just the gear, that I was tired. However, it was way more serious.

At the rehab, I really liked Donna and Mark. It wasn’t all roses with Mark, I got myself into some arguments and I had to write a 500-word awareness essay because I coughed and farted at the same time, and someone complained. I can laugh about it now.

There were a few blues, but when I finished, I bought them all a box of chocolates and said “thank you”. They’re all good people and they are all doing a tough job.

My life is completely different.

A typical day involves getting up and going to check in. Then I come home and work in my two big sheds. I used to fix lawnmowers and motorcycles but that went past the wayside, and it all grew into a bit of a mess. I’ve been fixing up the yard and cleaning up the sheds. It keeps me busy.

I go to a meeting at 7pm, usually after tea.

I have a sponsor, who also attended Hader Clinic Queensland. He gives me solutions and answers to the questions. He meets me in the coffee shop outside the Hader Clinic Queensland.

My wife comes to meetings with me and is now clean. It’s fantastic.

I was about to do Step Four of the 12 steps, but my sponsor suggested to go back and do the first three which has been fantastic. In the rehab, you tend to rush them, especially if you haven’t done them before. It wasn’t until I did the first step again that I got a good understanding of how it all works.

I said to my wife, “I get how this works”, and she said, “Maybe I should give it a go too”.

She’s been through it with me. She was jailed for a month. She has been so great, loving and understanding. I couldn’t do it if she wasn’t clean.

Our kids are proud – they’ve never touched drugs and for that I am so grateful. I’ve never hidden my using from them. They can see that there’s no happy ending with them.

I am grateful and happy to be in recovery. I’m living a life now that I never knew could be possible. I have court proceedings ahead of me and I have still been able to stay clean despite the stress of this. Thank you to Hader Clinic Queensland for all your support and help.

Eleven Signs Your Drinking may be More Than Social

Spotting the warning signs of unhealthy alcohol consumption can be difficult; because alcohol is everywhere and drinking is not just socially accepted but somewhat expected in Australian culture.

It is easy to find a good excuse to have a drink. Knock-off drinks on a Tuesday, big nights out on the weekend, birthdays, engagements, work functions, Sunday afternoon barbeques… the list goes on.

There is a fine like between social drinking and habitual drinking; and while it can be confronting to take an honest look at your drinking habits, it is nonetheless an important thing to do.

If you are suspecting that your drinking habits are getting out of control, or if you feel like you are developing an alcohol dependency, it might be time to re-think your drinking behaviour. It’s never easy to address uncomfortable truths, in fact, it can be hard to know where to start the process.

The following questions are designed to kick-start your introspective – take your time and answer honestly. Remember, you are not the only one going through this; and it’s never too late to get help and change.

How much are you actually drinking?
When we talk about alcoholism, we usually distinguish between heavy drinkers and binge drinkers. Per current definition, heavy drinking constitutes more than four standard drinks per day/fourteen standard drinks per week for men and three standard drinks per day/seven standard drinks per week for women. The term binge drinking describes less frequent but very hard drinking behaviour; more than five standard drinks within two hours for men, four or more for women.
If you exceed the weekly or daily limits, you might be at risk.

Are you drinking on your own?
If you no longer require company to drink and have started drinking regularly on your own at home, it might be time to start monitoring your intake more closely. There is nothing wrong with a quiet beer or wine on the deck after a hard week; however, if you feel you can’t unwind without alcohol, this could mean you are developing a dependency.

Are you drinking secretly?
Secrets are never a good thing when it comes to alcohol consumption. If you feel you must lie about how much and how frequently you drink to avoid judgement, it’s time to put on the breaks and rethink your behaviour.

You might think you are protecting your loved ones, friends, and colleagues by bending the truth about your drinking habits; but at the end of the day, transparency it always the best policy.

Do you feel guilty about drinking?
Problem drinkers are usually in denial about their unhealthy habits; however, even the most powerful denial can’t keep feelings of guilt at bay.

While some might describe drinking as a ‘guilty pleasure’, once the guilt takes over there is nothing pleasurable left – and if you’re not drinking for pleasure, you might be drinking for the wrong reasons.

Is your drinking causing problems?
To be clear, you don’t have to be a rock-bottom level alcoholic to acknowledge that your drinking habits are problematic. Even seemingly small things can be red flags for alcohol abuse.

Do you spend more money on alcohol than you should? Are your drinking habits causing arguments with your partner? Have you missed work or school because you drank too much the night before? Have you engaged in unsafe behaviour while intoxicated?

There is no shame in admitting that things have spun out of control; but the sooner you acknowledge these issues the sooner you can address them.

How often do you think about alcohol?
Are you spending a disproportionate amount of time thinking about when you will have your next drink/where you will procure your next drink/how soon it will be socially acceptable to have a drink? Do you think about having a drink as soon as you wake up? Do you worry about not being able to have a drink until much later in the day?

If alcohol is a source of anxiety and rumination, you might need to consider seeking help to adjust your drinking behaviours.

Are you experiencing extreme mood swings?
Alcohol abuse doesn’t just impact your physical health, it also destabilises your mental health.

If you find yourself getting snappy and agitated over small things, impatient with loved ones and generally unable to cope with life’s little annoyances, your drinking habits could be part of the problem.

Even high-functioning alcoholics – who are holding down a job, paying the mortgage and maintaining relationships – aren’t immune to mood swings; so, if you’re reactions are out of character and out of your control, it might be time to seek help.

Do you drink first thing in the morning?
Feeling the need to have a drink as soon as you wake up and being unable to resist this need is a huge red flag. Drinking in the morning often translates to ‘drinking to feel normal’, which is the very definition of alcohol dependency.

Can you stop yourself from having ‘just one more’?
Drinking alcohol becomes a problem when you are no longer in control of your intake. Often this means going out for ‘a drink’ and staying until the bar runs dry or the money runs out.

If you can’t stop drinking once you have started, it can be a sign that your alcohol consumption has moved outside your control; and that professional help might be needed to change your habits.

Are you neglecting your responsibilities?
Alcohol dependency tends to get in the way of fulfilling your responsibilities.

You might be late to pick up the kids because you got waylaid at the pub. Perhaps you missed an important meeting because you overslept with a hangover. It could be something as simple as not contributing to the housework because you are too busy having a relaxing drink (and then some) on the couch.

If you find that you prioritise drinking over everyday tasks, it is time to examine your behaviour and get help.

Is the fun gone?
Can you still enjoy yourself without having to drink alcohol? Do you still get pleasure from simple things, like hanging out with your partner on the sofa or having a quiet coffee or walk with a friend? Or are ever-present cravings and thoughts of alcohol getting in the way of having a good time sober?

No one deserves a joyless existence; and there are many options available to help you break this cycle of misery. The Hader Clinic Queensland can help you with Alcohol Addiction Treatment today.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

Addiction is a serious issue, whether it be to alcohol or drugs. It can be difficult to recognise if you or someone you know has an addiction problem, and when they need residential addiction treatment.

Addiction is defined as a chronic disease which affects many of the brain’s functions such as reward, motivation and memory. If you have an addiction, you will crave a substance or type of behaviour, and you will ignore the other areas of your life to maintain your desire.

Common signs of addiction are:

  • You have a lack of control or an inability to stay away from the substance or behaviour
  • You experience decreased socialisation or you pull out of commitments or ignore your relationships
  • You ignore other risk factors such as sharing needles despite being aware of consequences
  • There are physical effects such as withdrawal symptoms or requiring a higher dosage to feel the effect

The intensity of your addiction may depend on how long it has been going on or the type and amount of the substance you use. Individuals without addictions can often identify a negative behaviour and remove it from their life, however if you have an addiction, you will find a way to justify the addiction rather than getting rid of it.

In order to get help, you must recognise the signs of addictions. These may be physical, mental or emotional. For example, you may experience changes in your personality, your weight, or how your loved ones act around you.

There are many types of substances you can be addicted to. It may include one or multiple of these:

There are also various behavioural addictions, such as:

  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Video games
  • Internet
  • Sex
  • Working

Whatever it is that you are addicted to, it is important to recognise the signs early on and seek help if required.

Often, individuals with addictions show signs, such as:

  • Lacking interest in previously enjoyed hobbies
  • Neglecting loved ones
  • Missing important events
  • Taking risks
  • Ignoring consequences of actions
  • Keeping secrets
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Change in weight
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in mood
  • Aggression

Addictions can severely impact your life. For this reason, it is important to reach out and get help, so you can begin to move forward with your life and go down a healthier path.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, The Hader Clinic Queensland can help you understand how you can get on the road to recovery.

Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation

We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.

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