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Sobriety, Relapse and Recovery

Sober for over 11 years Ashley experienced a relapse that led her back to recovery. After completing a 28-day detox program, she shares her journey of overcoming addiction, the struggles she faced, and the lessons learned along the way.

My name is Ashley. Following a relapse of my alcohol addiction, I am now in recovery again. This is my story:

I moved to Australia and started a business on my own.

It was an industry I wasn’t familiar with, and I didn’t have any family or friends to lean on.

It was scary taking on this new world by myself.  But I persevered and gave it everything I had.

My parents kept warning me that I was taking on too much and overloading my plate.

I ignored it and kept going; kept giving to others and working long hours.

Alcoholism always ran in my family, it seemed hereditary and inevitable.

My addiction didn’t start until I had an incident where I was attacked by a dog I was fostering, and my arm was torn open.

Because my arm had experienced so much physical trauma and damage, it would shake constantly.

I would regularly attend business meetings and the shakiness would continue.

It got to the point where the only thing that stopped the shaking was a shot of vodka.

This was my turning point and I started to day drink.

The alcoholism quickly transitioned from being laid dormant in the backseat to the front seat and consequently started to drive my life.

This is when I went to rehab for the first time; 15 years ago.

I did have some relapses after this but ultimately as a result, I reached 11 and a half years sober.

During my time of sobriety, I wasn’t very involved in the program.

I stopped working with my sponsor, I got busy overfilling my plate once again; I got married, I had a daughter, volunteered in the community and at my daughter’s school and eventually began a startup business.

Once again, I found myself overwhelmed and overworked.

I was used to living in “overdrive” though and thought of myself as nearly invincible.

In early December I had a big girl’s night out planned and I wanted to have fun have some much needed and well-deserved fun… which included drinking.

I discussed the idea of “trying” drinking again with my husband, and because I had 11.5 years sober, we both thought that maybe I had “outgrown my alcoholism” and so we decided to give drinking a try.

It wasn’t long before my drinking escalated rapidly, and everything went quickly downhill – so much so that it scared me.

I began attending weekly meetings at AA, but felt like my attendance was a chore and it wasn’t enough to curb my need for alcohol.

I was being told to work the program and get a sponsor, but I had forgotten what working the program meant.

I kept relapsing over a period of a year. Every time, the relapse was longer and stronger, and my periods of sobriety shrank.

I was drinking alcohol without reason, lying, and trying to hide my addiction from everyone around me.

All the drinking did was take away my life force energy, I would be bedridden.

I would sleep a lot and my depression accelerated.

It was impacting my ability to be a mum and I couldn’t give 100%. I knew this was the opposite of who I am; someone who is outgoing, exuberant and embraces life.

The alcoholism changed me. My body was shutting down and I wasn’t taking care of myself.

It wasn’t until one day when I went to give my daughter a hug and she put her hands up to stop me.

She was angry with me and gave me a look of such disappointment that it was like a dagger to my heart.

I knew then that it was time for me to raise the white flag and go back to rehab.

When I walked through the doors of Hader Clinic Queensland for the 28-day detox program, I was angry; at myself, my husband, my daughter and I was mostly angry at alcohol and for being an alcoholic.

Within 2 days of the program, I realised the opportunity I had been given, with the biggest gift being time to work on myself – something I hadn’t prioritised for a long time.

Hader Clinic Queensland taught me to recognise my pattern of addiction.

It was Mark, a support worker at Hader Clinic Queensland, who helped me realise that I drank for a release and an escape because I don’t ever allow that for myself in any other way.

During my time in the program, I found myself again.

I started loving the program again and understood the need for my own personal development in sobriety.

I learnt that I needed to maintain the balance of giving to others and receiving for myself.

When I finished the program, I gave myself 6 weeks to focus on myself at home.

I have now started a new career becoming a certified menopause specialist coach, empowering other women during times of peri and post menopause.

This fulfils my desire to help others and contribute, but also allows me to take time for myself.

I am in the most perfect place where I can re-create a life of balance and still honour all aspects of myself.

If I hadn’t of returned to rehab and pressed the reset button on my life, I would have found myself falling into the same exact pattern.

I know that if I go down that path again; I would lose everything, including my own life.

I am still in the beginning of working out what recovery means to me now.

But I do know that during this next chapter of my life, I will never again let myself step away from the program, the key is to stay involved.

No matter how much time goes by, the disease does not go away.

There is no magic pill to overcome addiction.

My advice to others considering rehab and Hader Clinic Queensland is to love yourself enough to give yourself to the program.

I promise you that you are in the best of hands.

If you allow yourself to trust the staff and the process, you will be amazed at the person you (really) are without the smokescreen of alcohol or drugs!

You are worthy of a remarkable life!

It is not always easy and it does take a lot of hard work and self-honesty, but I promise you that if you commit yourself, you will have an extraordinary life!

Don’t allow alcohol to take that away from you… because it will.

Steven’s Addiction Recovery

Steven’s addiction meant he couldn’t hold a job down; lost his kids, and was homeless. Now after undertaking our addiction treatment program he is sober, in recovery and working towards a better life.

Growing up as a kid, I loved motorbikes. If I think about it, that was probably my first addiction.

From sun up to sun down, I would be riding my motorbike. I couldn’t give it up.

I would say my childhood and early teens were run of the mill and indifferent.

My dad was a part of a motorcycle club when I was growing up and this was probably where my love for bikes came from.

Overall, life for me back then was normal.

I grew up on a small country farm until I was about 10 years old.

My family then decided to pack up the house and move to a larger city in Victoria.

After a little while of being somewhere new, I began to fall in with the wrong crowd.

I started to smoke weed when I was 13, everyone was doing it.

I didn’t think much of it, but that was the beginning.

That was when I began to be drawn into a life of drug addiction.

By 15, I was taking ecstasy and speed religiously.

I decided to leave school at this time to do a building apprenticeship.

It was during my apprenticeship where I found myself starting to try harder drugs.

At 18, I tried ice for the first time.

My life was turbulent and chaotic from then onward.

I couldn’t stop taking substances.

It was one drug to the next, always needing something more.

I went to rehab for the first time at 21.

I got clean and stayed clean for a bit. Life was okay.

When I was 23, I got married and we started a family.

It was good. But things turned, and the relationship started to breakdown by the time I was 25.

Not long after the separation, I picked up the drugs again to cope with the emotional fracture.

My drug use affected every single part of my life and continued to do so for a number of years.

I wasn’t able to function as a normal human being.

I couldn’t ever hold a job down; I lost my kids, and I was homeless living on the street.

There were times over the years where I would get clean for a short period.

However, relapse was always imminent.

My cycle of addiction and serial relapses continued for another 5 years. I couldn’t escape it.

I had participated in and completed various public rehabilitation programs 10 times before I made the decision to go to Hader Clinic Queensland.

Making the decision to go to rehab again wasn’t an easy one.

I kept asking myself what would be different this time, how would rehab help me, I had done it all before so many times and I knew it would just be a waste of my time.

This inner debate continued for a while.

It then got to the point where I was sick to death of constantly feeling physically sick and tired every day from the drug use.

I was at my wit’s end and had burnt my entire life to the ground.

I had lost my job and I had been reported as a missing person for 2 days.

This inescapable relapse was probably the worst one and definitely the most significant.

I had to get real with myself.

I needed to take that next step, do something different and make a change.

I chose Hader Clinic Queensland because I had known a few people who had completed the program there previously, were able to continue with their recovery journey, and now have amazing success stories.

I wanted that; a better outcome than I had experienced before. I needed to stay clean.

I am now 32 years old, and I completed the 4-week rehabilitation program at Hader Clinic Queensland just over two months ago.

I am clean, in recovery and working towards a better life for myself.

In the past, other rehabs would take me in for 6—12 weeks and then kick me out the door without any aftercare or support.

This would always be a recipe for failure.

Hader Clinic Queensland was different.

The team taught me how to connect with people again and form positive relationships.

The most helpful thing that Hader Clinic Queensland provided that no other rehab provides is connection outside of the rehab and ongoing support.

My goals for the next 12 months are to continue working, build better relationships and stay clean.

My more long-term goal is regaining custody of my kids, I know it will take a while to rebuild that trust again.

But by staying on track with my recovery, I am hopeful that one day that connection will return and they will want to come and spend time with their dad again.

My advice for others considering Hader Clinic Queensland is to have faith in what they tell you.

You will go there and think you know the best, but the reality is that the people running the program know better.


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

Tara’s Recovery From Alcohol Addiction

Despite losing nearly everything to her alcohol addiction, Tara, a 36-year-old lawyer, found hope and recovery through our addiction treatment program, where she learned to live a fulfilling, sober life filled with connection and stability.

Hi, I’m Tara, I’m a 36-year-old lawyer from Newcastle and I’m an alcoholic.

I love alcohol. I always have and I always will. But somewhere along the line it became a problem for me. A big problem.

But I’m proud to say that today I am 12 months clean and sober.

And for someone who couldn’t go a day without drinking, this is a big deal.

This is the longest I have ever gone without putting a drink or drug in my body to change the way I feel since I was 14.

That’s over 22 years.

I have a disease. A progressive illness that usually ends in jails, institutions or death. And unfortunately, I am just one drink away from that ending.

In the last few years, I lost everything.

My relationship, my friends, my family, my house, my car, my career and my will to live.

Last year I broke my neck in two places while drunk and yet I couldn’t stop drinking.

I was hospitalised more times than I can count. My life was unmanageable. I couldn’t take care of myself, but I couldn’t accept I had a problem and needed help.

I would lie, steal, and do hurtful things to the people I loved with no regard for them.

I was completely self-centred and blamed everybody else.

I blamed the world for my problems when I was creating them myself. My morals and values went out the window.

I was doing insane things and no matter how hard people tried to help me, I pushed them away.

In the end, I drank alone in isolation.

I wanted everyone to leave me alone so I could drink in peace.

I drank to the point of blackout and unconsciousness daily.

Eventually I tried detoxes and mental health hospitals to please others and got kicked out of every single one for continuing to drink in there.

I always found a way.

I continued on until I had nowhere else to go but be homeless and living on the street or going to a long-term rehab.

I finally gave in and found Hader Clinic Queensland. I spent months away with other addicts in regional Queensland.

No phone, no money, no hope. I spent 29 days in the detox before doing another 4 weeks in the residential rehabilitation.

I learnt there that I wasn’t alone.

I wasn’t the only one with this disease and there was a way out if I wanted it.

I learnt about my addiction.

I learnt the value of connection.

I learnt HOW to save myself.

I can honestly say that Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life.

The program, the staff, the therapeutic community, the family support, the aftercare.

My family and I will be forever grateful.

To this day, I still remember the little antidotes, the powerful messages, the affirmations and the tough love from my time in there.

I learnt that it was ok to be myself and people would accept me.

I learnt that addicts are good people who are just sick people.

I learnt how to live in the solution.

I’m so grateful for where this journey of recovery has taken me.

I may not have kids, I have never been married, I don’t own a house or a car.

But today I have my family back in my life, a loving partner who accepts me for who I am, amazing new friends, a job I love, a home, a puppy and connection to others.

I can manage my life and do the things I love.

I have stability.

I live an honest life and I show up.

I have integrity.

I exercise and try to eat well.

And I’m the happiest I’ve been in as long as I can remember.

I am learning to accept who I am and where I am at in life.

I just want to say thank you for all the love and support I have received, especially from Hader Clinic Queensland.

It has taken hard work.

It’s probably been the most challenging thing I have ever done.

Harder than law school or moving by myself to the other side of the world to London.

But I’ve just decided to do the next right thing, and put my head on the pillow sober, one day at a time.

I’m feeling grateful for the gift of recovery.


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

Our Sons’ Paths to Addiction Recovery

Never lose hope. As a parent of two children suffering from addiction, Jordan and Jarryd, my advice is that there’s always hope.

We are a family of six navigating two addiction recovery journeys; this is our story.

We were a normal family you could say, kids played footy and netball. We have always been ‘anti-drug’ and encourage our kids to make the best life decisions.

Alcohol was a part of our lives to a small extent when the kids were growing up; social parties and going to the football club for our children’s games.

We were happy, things were okay.

It was during their teenage years where life for our two boys began to de-rail.

Jordan was shy, wanting to fit in.

An incident occurred where Jordan was king hit and ostracised from his friends.

Feelings of helplessness and loneliness began to set in.

Alcohol and marijuana was first and then it quickly snowballed into addiction to harder drugs and gambling.

If it wasn’t one addiction, it was another.

This is when the regular trips to hospital and consequent admissions started.

He had visitors during these periods, people would sneak him drugs or take him to the pub when he was granted leave.

The cycle of addiction continued.

We tried over years to get him help, pull him away from toxic relationships and find something (anything) that works; I think as a family we went to hell and back. We needed a circuit breaker.

Jarryd, our youngest, looked up to Jordan as an idol and started to gravitate in a similar direction.

He lived more of a nomadic life, often couch surfing with friends and would rarely come back home.

We knew that his addiction was growing too.

Anything we tried to say wouldn’t get through.

We lived in a war zone for quite some years.

As parents it was really hard. We would ask ourselves where we had gone wrong, what we could have done better.

We would often wonder what other people thought of us as parents and as a family; we felt judged for having two sons experiencing addiction.

People will always judge, but they shouldn’t because until they stand in our shoes, they have no idea what the true story is.

I would hate to see the amount of tears I have cried, I think I have cried oceans.

It was extremely difficult to get our boys to go to rehab.

It was like a merry go-round; Jordan would just go round in circles.

I can remember our youngest son saying to me that we wouldn’t get Jordan back, that he was too far gone.

I didn’t want to believe it.

The final attempt as a family to get Jordan to rehab was when Jordan decided it for himself.

He had hit rock bottom and said it couldn’t go on.

Sending Jordan away to Hader Clinic Queensland was the best decision we ever made.

Jordan participated in the 90-day residential rehabilitation program and when he came home, we got our son back, the kid we once had.

Now, over 12 months clean, he is beyond our wildest dreams.

For Jarryd the youngest son, accepting rehab was a different story.

We knew he needed to walk away from the poly-substance use.

We tried on numerous occasions to get him back.

Jarryd was still couch surfing at this time, sometimes he would spend a few days at home and then disappear again.

It got to the point as a parent where I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Addiction had been a part of our lives for many years now and I decided to block Jarryd’s number on my phone.

I felt I had come to the end of my road, I wanted to be there for my son, but for my own sanity I couldn’t, I needed to stay strong.

A while later, I knew he had started to get into trouble and was attempting to reach out, so I rang him and he came home.

In the end, we said to him, if Jordan can be where he’s been and come out the other side, why can’t you?

There’s always hope.

Jarryd has now started his recovery journey with Hader Clinic Queensland.

I learnt one thing from my experience as a parent while my son was completing his addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland; I was an enabler.

I had to put my hand up and say yes that was me.

I thought back then that I was doing was the right thing. I have now since learnt not to blame myself and let that go.

Regardless, we as parents have always had so much faith in our sons and continue to do so.

Today’s world is not an easy one.

My advice for other families is to never lose hope.

You will try everything that you can, you try all the right avenues, you just need that one avenue that works.

After my first son completed his treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, he said to us that “people can talk to you, tell you what it is out of a book, but that’s not it. People don’t understand or know how you as a person feel during addiction. The support staff at Hader, because of their lived experience, have lived this, they know.”

This was the biggest thing that stuck for my son and reinforced his decision to continue with recovery.

I would send my children to Hader Clinic Queensland again in a heartbeat.

Veteran Reclaims Life After Addiction with DVA-Funded Rehab

From joining the military to facing the depths of despair and homelessness, Jaymie’s journey is a raw and powerful testament to the challenges of addiction and the resilience required to overcome it.

Jaymie’s life took a dramatic turn when, at age 18, she enlisted in the Australian Defence Force, a decision that unwittingly steered her towards a harrowing battle with alcohol and drug addiction.

Her struggles with substance abuse during and after her military service, her courageous fight to reclaim her life through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) funded rehab programs at Hader Clinic Queensland, and the transformative power of recovery has led her to a fulfilling life with her family.

This is Jaymie’s story.

I had never touched alcohol or drugs before I joined the defence force when I was 18.

Since then I have lived normally, lost everything to my alcohol and drug addiction, and then fought for it all back.

I have completed DVA funded residential addiction treatment and the Transition House Program at Hader Clinic Queensland.

I am now living a great life in recovery with my husband and our children.

I had my first drink in the military when I was 18 as it was heavily encouraged.

Throughout my career in the military drinking was promoted as a coping mechanism.

You’re exposed to high risk situations where you need to be able to react quickly, so it’s this constant state of fight or flight response.

When we’d travel overseas for defence the first thing people did was go get a drink.

I’ve been all over the world from my time in the military but I’ve barely seen outside of a bar. I drank quite heavily and identified as an alcoholic from the very beginning.

After I left the defence force I became a parent and lived a double life.

I was a normal Mum during the week, looking after my kids and functioning normally, and then I was a binge drinker on the weekends.

I was married with a nice house and nice things, but I couldn’t stop myself from drinking excessively at the end of the week.

That isn’t to say I didn’t try.

I committed myself to being sober for one year, and then switched out alcohol with pharmaceuticals.

They are still the most dangerous drug for me.

I was trying to change the way I felt all the time.

I couldn’t sit with myself, my emotions or the stress of being a mum and trying to be perfect.

I thought I was fine because I wasn’t drinking but I was really unwell from overusing prescription drugs, eventually ending up in hospital.

My marriage broke down as my husband was struggling with PTSD from his time in the military, and after years of abuse I took my kids and left.

This is when things really went downhill as I turned to drinking to cope.

It was almost like the beginning of the end for me.

The week that I didn’t have the kids I would party and drink and use drugs to numb everything.

I went from having a normal home and going to parent/teacher and P&C meetings, to being homeless and waiting in front of the bottle shop so I could stop the withdrawals as soon as it opened.

I ended up losing my kids and had no idea how I was going to get them back and get free of my addiction’s hold on me.

So I turned to harder drugs to escape and cut off communication with everyone.

I just wanted to disappear as I didn’t feel like I was worth anything.

Then one day I went to walk in front of a train and I suddenly thought about how I just wanted to see my kids one more time.

I called my Mum for the first time in three months and this was the turning point in my addiction.

I had presented before at a hospital asking for help and telling them that I was a veteran, but they turned me away.

My Mum was able to get in touch with the local police officer (I had been reported as missing), and from his experience with DVA services, he told us about a detox service that takes Veterans.

I detoxed and felt much better but I knew that 6 weeks wasn’t enough time so I worked with DVA on a longer-term solution which is how I found Hader Clinic Queensland.

I signed up for the 90 day rehab program and walked into Hader Clinic Queensland full of hope.

I entered Hader’s program and finally learnt the reasons why I was doing what I was doing.

They introduced me to AA and NA, and the incredible Fellowship on the Sunshine Coast.

I was exposed to this world of people like me who got better and were happy.

The best thing about my time in drug and alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland was the community.

I was surrounded by like-minded people going through similar things, and together we were healing ourselves and each other.

And then as you progress through the rehab program you become the older, wiser member to the new people coming in, and you get to see how far you’ve come in the little time that has passed.

It makes you feel proud that you’re in the right direction and motivated to keep going.

I had 3 months of being able to completely switch off from the outside world and focus on me and my recovery.

Then I spent about 5 months in the Transition House Program, which was really valuable.

You have a bit more freedom but you still have that accountability.

I’d highly recommend the Transition House program to anyone considering it as it really helped me adjust back into the real world with support still from Hader Clinic Queensland and the accountability to keep you on track.

It’s been some time since I completed the DVA funded residential addiction treatment and Transition House Program.

I’ve gotten married, I have my kids back and a new baby, my life is better, and I’m happy.

From homeless with nothing to a nice home and normal family life in just a few years.

I found someone that I can share my life with who understands the journey I’ve been on and celebrates what has been overcome to build what we have together.

I feel like I got to redo my life because I have the support from DVA that allows me to access services like Hader Clinic Queensland.

Going to rehab saved my life and every day I am really grateful for that second chance.

Alan’s DVA Funded Addiction Treatment

Alan is 6 months sober after completing DVA funded addiction treatment for his alcohol addiction. This is his story.

I didn’t see myself as an alcoholic until I ended up in alcohol addiction treatment and started to see my life in a new perspective.

By that point I had been drinking heavily for about 20 years and I realised I was becoming a slave to it.

I ended up signing up for 90 days of DVA funded addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland and now I’ve been sober for 6 months.

I grew up in a pretty big family, had a pretty good upbringing and was in music.

Times were different back then so you’d go round to a mate’s house as a teen and have a couple of beers.

But being in the music scene there was a pretty strong drinking culture that then continued into my time in the Navy.

I participated somewhat, but I generally tried to distance myself from it.

I did transport in the Navy so I had to stay sober to drive the trucks and operate the machinery.

When I left the Navy I got a job driving buses, so I didn’t drink and drive.

It wasn’t until I was let go from work due to a back injury that I started drinking heavily and my alcoholism started to take hold.

Being unemployed I couldn’t afford to go to the pub, so I drank homebrew, which unfortunately lead to isolation.

I was living out pretty remotely with my wife and kids so we didn’t even have neighbours to interact with frequently.

My weekly outing was going to get treatment for my back and doing the grocery shop.

This continued on for about 20 years, and as the heavy drinking and isolation continued I stopped feeling like myself and eventually ended up in hospital.

The mental health ward staff were the ones who referred me to Hader Clinic Queensland.

I agreed to go, and DVA moved quickly putting everything into place, so soon after I was on my way into 90 days of alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.

The first 28 days were hard, but I knew pretty quickly that I did need to complete the whole 90 days.

The rehab program gave me back structure and discipline, but the best thing was the education.

Learning about yourself and where your problems lie, which can be hard to come to terms with.

It was an emotional time for me.

When it came to the end of the 90 days, I had a choice to make.

Go home, or continue on in the Transitional Housing Program.

I’d been drinking alcohol for 47 years and I was determined to give myself the best chance for recovery post treatment.

This meant I needed more time, and with my family’s support I went into the Transitional Housing Program.

I live in the country and don’t have access to a lot of alcoholism support out there, so I need to have a strong base of recovery knowledge and practice what I could pull from when I went home.

I’ve now done 12 weeks of the Transitional Housing Program at Hader Clinic Queensland in addition to the 90 days of residential rehab and it’s been very valuable.

I’m 6 months sober, and if it wasn’t for DVA and Hader Clinic Queensland I wouldn’t be here.

I’ve started sponsoring another alcoholic which has made me stronger in my sobriety.

I’m passing on what I’ve learnt from AA to someone else, reinforcing my knowledge base.

I’ve got a few more months until I’m back home, but I’ve got a lot of people that are helping me and I’m helping others too.



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

Max’s Addiction, Treatment & Recovery

After 60 days of residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, Max* is 6 months clean and sober and looking to the future. This is his story.

If you saw my school record, you wouldn’t think I would have ended up in residential addiction treatment let alone jail.

I did well at school, graduating with an OP 1 as dux of the school.

I was awarded a scholarship to study at the Australian National University in Canberra, where I moved when I was 18.

Living in a student college, I was thrown into a strong drinking culture, which I participated in.

I soon started experimenting with party drugs and study drugs, which made me feel better as I was struggling with mental health concerns at the time as well.

I started taking the drugs daily and that’s when things really began to go downhill for me.

I was functional enough to hold down a job for a few years, but the pressure started to build as I got high pressure internships and then jobs, which led to working full time and studying full time simultaneously.

The pressure was so bad that I turned to harder drugs to try and keep functioning.

After the work finished, my studies were in disarray and I withdrew from university.

At this time I got addicted to benzodiazepines which were helping with the intense anxiety that I was experiencing.

To uphold this addiction, I resorted to crime and was eventually remanded in custody.

Coming out on probation, I was doing well for a time but then relapsed.

I thought the only way to deal with the incredible anxiety, isolation, and shame I was feeling was through using drugs.

After around a year, I was in custody again for 60 days, and then released on parole.

At this time, I was struggling with housing and experienced incredible isolation and social withdrawal.

I could see no purpose in my life, so I started looking for other options.

After doing some research, I ended up calling the Hader Clinic Queensland, which may have been a call that saved my life.

I researched Hader Clinic Queensland and saw that they were accredited to the Australian Healthcare Standards and were based on a model that treated both addiction and comorbid mental health conditions.

The fact of intensive medical support in the form of an onsite hospital was something I thought I would benefit from, so I booked myself in and was there within four days.

The program was more intensive and well-rounded than any institution I had stayed at, which was exactly what I needed.

After 28 days, my family and I were pleased with my progress and decided to extend my stay in treatment for another 30 days.

The best thing about my 60 days in rehab was that Hader Clinic Queensland teaches a program of recovery that prioritises connection with others, service, honesty and principles that can be applied to every area of your life.

What I learnt from the Hader Clinic Queensland has continued in its development through my attendance at 12 Step Fellowship meetings, which I began whilst an inpatient at Hader Clinic Queensland.

This, in combination with the strong medical component of the first 28 days at Hader Clinic Queensland was a massive benefit to me, having the medical staff, doctors and a psychiatrist on site.

After my 60 days of drug addiction treatment, I went to meetings most days and now have supportive and stable accommodation.

I also have a sponsor, I’m attending several weekly meetings, I have a service position, and I have a homegroup.

I’m coming up to the end of my parole and I’ve started back at university this year.

I’m 6 months sober and clean thanks to my time at Hader Clinic Queensland, studying again, living at secure accommodation, and on my way to reaching my goals.

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

Ten Ways to Avoid Social Triggers

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

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

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


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

Clear Boundaries

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

Buddy Up

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

Escape Routes

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


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

Be Selective

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

Compare Notes

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

Realistic Expectations

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


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

Trust Your Gut

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

Drug Addiction, Psychosis and Redemption

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She tried rehabilitation. It didn’t stick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That requires multidisciplinary care by various health professionals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article appeared in the Courier Mail on November 11, 2023.

Fears in Recovery

The fears in recovery can be overwhelming for individuals seeking help with addiction.

From the fear of withdrawal symptoms to the fear of relapse, these concerns can hinder the progress of recovery. However, there are effective strategies to overcome these fears and achieve long-term sobriety.

Explore the top 10 fears in recovery and learn about proven ways to beat them.

Top 10 Fears in Recovery:

  1. Fear of withdrawal symptoms: Intense physical and psychological discomfort during detoxification.
  2. Fear of judgment: Stigmatisation or labelling as a “drug addict” by friends, family, or society.
  3. Fear of failure: Concerns about successfully completing the rehabilitation program and maintaining sobriety.
  4. Fear of change: Intimidation towards making significant lifestyle, routine, and social circle adjustments.
  5. Fear of losing control: Anxiety about surrendering control to a treatment program or therapist.
  6. Fear of facing emotions: Frightening and uncomfortable feelings associated with confronting and working through emotional issues.
  7. Fear of the unknown: Anxiety and uncertainty due to unfamiliar environments, therapies, and routines.
  8. Fear of isolation: Apprehension about being away from friends, family, and support networks.
  9. Fear of addressing underlying issues: Overwhelming emotions linked to facing deeper underlying issues like trauma or mental health disorders.
  10. Fear of relapse: Anxiety and uncertainty about the possibility of returning to old habits and facing the consequences.

Ways to Beat the Fears

The good news is that any fears you may experience once you are in recovery are completely normal.

Here are 10 proven coping strategies to help you overcome these fears  and enhance your overall recovery experience:

  • Taking it one day at a time: Focus on the present moment to alleviate anxiety.
  • Connecting with recovered addicts: Find inspiration and perspective through group therapy sessions and support meetings.
  • Communicating your fear: Share fears with counsellors, therapists, and the recovery community to release their power.
  • Reaching out to family and loved ones: Seek open communication and family support to overcome feelings of failure.
  • Taking a leap of faith: Embrace the safe environment provided by trained professionals for psychological recovery.
  • Giving yourself permission to be vulnerable: Allow honesty and vulnerability as part of the healing process.
  • Engaging with the program: Trust the process and professionals to regain a sense of control.
  • Trusting: Believe in the decision to seek help and have faith in the staff’s expertise.
  • Fine-tuning your support system: Maintain connections with support groups, counsellors, sponsors, and mentors for ongoing assistance.
  • Accepting the possibility of relapse: Understand that relapse does not equate to failure and access support to get back on track.

By acknowledging and addressing these fears, individuals in recovery can overcome them and find the support needed to achieve successful recovery.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation program offers comprehensive assistance and guidance throughout the recovery journey, providing the tools and support necessary to conquer these fears and thrive in 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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