Brendon’s Addiction Recovery
I’m Brendon. I’m a 35 years young father of two young boys, aged four and one. I’m their full-time carer. I am their world and they are mine – and I plan to keep it that way.
My journey into addiction started at around 15 or 16. It was mainly weed at that stage. The benzo addiction didn’t really start until just before I went to rehab.
I left school in Year 8 because I was hanging around with the wrong crowd. Dad was a road train driver and organised work for me. He sent me off to the country (NT) to work as a stockman. I’d be away for ten months of the year then come home to two months of holidays. I worked as a stockman for eight years.
I would hit the drugs pretty hard when I was at home and then go back to work and “detox” per se. Until I went to Hader Clinic Queensland, I did not realise that I used alcohol as a substitute. There’s a huge drinking culture out West – they used to say, “swap the wicks for the dicks”.
Even when I stopped working as a stockman, eight years later, I was still really young. I became a truck driver and that’s when I started using ice and speed. I’m still a truck driver today.
My using just progressed. I never had any inkling to do anything about it – it was what I had chosen and I lived with it.
My partner and I were together for nine years. She’s now my ex. We met in Darwin and eventually moved to Brisbane. When I moved to Brisbane, it was the worst thing I could have done. I fell into old ways and old habits. I associated with the wrong people.
My ex was a heavy drinker who would dabble in drugs on occasion. I reckon she was an alcoholic. Four years into the relationship, she stopped drinking. I didn’t realise she also had a drug problem.
Just before I went into rehab, she was getting out of control. So was I. Everything was falling apart. I thought it was my fault, so that’s one reason I went to rehab.
When I left rehab, the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland pleaded with me not to go back into that situation.
However, there was just no way that I could leave my kids in that situation, so I went back.
Of course, things with her just got worse and worse and out of control. She left one night and took up with one of her drug dealer friends and I saw that as my perfect opportunity to scoop up the kids, leave the house and the relationship, and start afresh.
Since I left with the kids all those months ago, she hasn’t tried to get in contact with them once. It’s pretty sad. It’s not terrible for me, but it is awful for the kids. It’s not too bad for the one-year-old, but the four-year-old asks where she is all the time and it’s pretty hard. I’m grateful for my Mum, she’s stepped into that grandparenting role and looks after the boys a lot. So at least they are establishing a solid relationship with her.
I became hooked on benzos through friends. I wasn’t doctor shopping or anything like that, being a pot smoker for 15 years meant that I liked the effects of the benzos. My ex had a hip replacement and was on painkillers and benzos. I’d just have them here and there and then it escalated.
When I went to rehab, I was really stressed out about the physical withdrawal effects from stopping the benzos, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I didn’t think that I’d be able to sleep, but instead I went to rehab and slept like a baby.
Rehab was the best thing I have ever done. My family – my sisters and my dad got me into rehab. I accessed some of my super on medical grounds and my dad offered to pay the rest.
It was a phone call one afternoon, and two days later I was walking down the steps of the rehab.
I was very willing to go to rehab. Just before I went, I moved out of home, things were getting volatile. It spiralled out of control a bit more after that as well.
By the time I got to rehab, I was a broken mess. I couldn’t stop crying for the first two weeks. I was hurting. I knew that I had been going against the grain, against the person that I wanted to be.
To sum up, I went in a broken, defeated person and came out the other side as a completely different person. It makes me emotional just thinking about it.
Deep down, I wanted this for my kids as much as anything. Being addicted to drugs meant that I’d never been truly present for them and I was desperate for this to change.
I’m so thankful that I went to rehab because now I’ve got the kids full time – it’s hectic and there’s no way I could do that with drugs in my system. Single parenting is hard, but I am deliriously happy being a hands-on dad.
What turned me around was starting to believe that I could get off the drugs (once I realised the withdrawal wasn’t that bad). I just put my head down and worked the program, and did exactly what the staff told me to do.
It wasn’t without drama though, because I had the worry of the kids being with my drug-addled partner. She was using heavily and I didn’t know who was around the kids.
All I wanted to do was go home and retrieve them. I had Sally as a counsellor, plus JJ and Donna all helped me so much to deal with this trauma.
I wanted to leave two or three times and JJ and Donna talked me out of it, convincing me that I’d be a much more effective dad if I was clean and working a solid program.
That made me grow in there. I could have a really bad day where all I wanted to do was leave but I’d be able to calm down and work things out – whereas before, I’d just blow up.
I literally have done a full 180 in life as a result of attending rehab.
Weekend leave helped me too. I didn’t realise that eating was a problem for me – skipping breakfast amongst other things wasn’t helping me. Hader Clinic Queensland helped me realise the importance of having a routine, which I really enjoy.
There have also been some hard times. JJ, Donna, Mark and Sally have been instrumental in helping me cope. My ex filed a DV complaint against me in court – I have just been fully cleared of any wrongdoing.
After I left rehab, I did a month’s worth of outpatient’s program until I was offered a full-time job, which I took. I needed structure and certainty around work, especially providing for my boys. I work hard to be able to take out some time to continue to do meetings but to be honest my main driving force is the boys. I am clean because I want to be a better dad.
I also made a couple of good friends in rehab and we have a great connection. We support each other through the good and bad times. Plus, my relationship with my own family is the best it has ever been.
My future is bright. I love being a dad. It’s the best job in the world and I am grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me achieve this outcome.
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