Alcohol Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Veteran Tom’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Tom is a 47-year-old Veteran, who has been sober for 66 days. He completed a 28-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland after receiving DVA funding to attend.

My parents were both heavy drinkers. They went to parties regularly but there was no abuse or domestic violence in my childhood. I was an anxious child, I found it very difficult to fit into the world around me. Back then we rarely talked about anxiety let alone get treatment for it. I remember my brother was similar.

Growing up personal relationships were hard to maintain. I have never been able to sit still and had a very nervous energy about me. I have always been very methodical, everything had to be how I wanted it to be. I remember my dad telling me that I was self-centred. Looking back, I can see that I was just full of fear.

My parents and extended family were always drinking around us. I even have memories of my parent’s drink driving with us. I was bought up thinking that people who didn’t drink were strange and it was just a part of life. The very first time I drank alcohol, my family and I went to stay with relatives. My cousin gave me a few cans of VB and I couldn’t stand it. I was very young; 12 or 13. I remember thinking how disgusting it tasted and I couldn’t believe people drank alcohol. My mum smelt it on me and I said, “don’t need to worry about me I will never drink, it’s horrible”. They all laughed.

At 15 I started going out to clubs and pubs, things weren’t as strict back then and I was quite tall for my age so it was easy to get in. This is when my drinking really ramped up. It gave me the confidence to go and talk to people and girls. My nervous disposition was nowhere to be seen. I could dance and I felt free. It was routine. School, work, and drinking on the weekend. That’s all I saw other people doing, this was life. I don’t recall ever thinking that it could be a problem. I thought an alcoholic was a homeless drunk on the street.

I went to university straight after year 12. I was very disciplined and determined. In 1996 applied for the air force, and I was not accepted due to an inner ear imbalance. This was the career path I wanted, and I was crushed not to get in. I was focused on getting this job for 6 or 7 years. I had put all of my eggs in one basket. A few years later I joined the Police Force. This was a really structured 6 months in the academy. I was very focused and determined again. Within this structured environment, I was able to not have a drink the whole time.

As soon as I finished at the academy I went back to drinking heavily, after every shift we would drink. We drank every opportunity we could that didn’t impact our work. There is a heavy drinking culture in the police force. I found myself only drinking at the station or with other police. Between the unusual hours and the stress of the job my alcohol use really ramped up and it didn’t affect my work performance. We had our own club at the back of the police station. We even had a vending machine that was filled with alcohol for a while.

I left the police after 8 and a half years and went into the Australian Federal Police. I still had no idea my drinking might be a problem. I went to NSW and just stopped drinking altogether for a while. I would look back at this time to assure myself I had complete control over my alcohol use. I thought I could so easily stop or start. I see now it was just the situation and my perfectionism made sure I didn’t jeopardise anything in my new role.

We got deployed to East Timor on a UN peacekeeping mission. It was extremely dangerous and high anxiety. We were living in a compound with the Military. The danger and anxiety of day-to-day life there were exhilarating. Any free time we had, the whole compound would drink. There was nothing to do except exercise and drink. I loved the danger and the adrenaline and the comradery, I felt part of something. But when I look back now it was a situation in which I could have died many times a day. East Timor had fallen apart, and the government and police had disbanded. People were fighting in the streets with machetes. We would be attacked in the street daily. Our job was to take over and set up functioning police stations and restore some order.

There was so much trauma during this time. I had seen death before, but this was truly horrible. It all seemed so senseless. I was there for a year. The second time I was deployed to East Timor it was much more fulfilling. The country was a lot safer, I was able to work in a command role, and it was more productive. I could see a glimmer of hope for the country. There was a lot of downtimes to drink, and the culture supported it.

I was 34 when I got back in 2009. My anxiety got worse, I noticed I couldn’t even go to a shopping centre. I had a short fuse and no tolerance for stupidity. I would get angry quickly and was frequently in arguments. When we arrived home from the mission, a psychologist gave me a survey that asked some questions about drinking amounts and my general mental health. I was so concerned about not getting deployed again that I answered dishonestly. There was no education or follow-up in any way. I really didn’t connect my anxiety, depression, and bad temperament to the trauma I had suffered.

All I wanted to do was get back overseas. When I was there I had a sense of purpose. I was deployed two more times in my career to Cypress and South Sudan. While I was deployed I felt great, but whenever I would return I would be filled with fear and anxiety again. Every time I returned it was worse. I was afraid to seek any help as I thought it would hinder me in the future. I always wanted to go back overseas. I was completely unable to be vulnerable with anyone and I could not show any weakness.

When we returned from South Sudan, there was a lot of negativity in the AFP. A lot of people who had served alongside me had so much fear about their future; me included. For my whole life, all I thought about was policing. It was my whole world, and I was terrified of change.

Other than exercise the only coping mechanism I knew was drinking alcohol. My drinking became daily, but I was still going to work and getting the job done. I was hungover every day and full of resentment towards the organisation. My wife started to worry about me. I would drink until I fell asleep on the couch. The alcohol addiction had started to take over. I was very isolated.

In 2015 I left the AFP and started working in the private sector. For a short time, it was perfect. I thought that I had found the solution I was looking for. This only lasted a short while. I became indignant and angry at my employers and the people around me. Thinking they didn’t acknowledge the experience I had. I found excuses to hate the job and the boss. I realise now that I was trying to find a justification to drink.

I still refused to seek help, I needed to control everything, I needed to be perfect. I was paranoid and afraid. I was doing geographicals and changing jobs thinking this would fix the situation. I was trying to escape but I always brought myself along with me.

A few years later in 2017, I could see that I could not control my life. I was always involved in arguments. My behaviour had started to impact my relationship. My wife asked me to seek help. I went to see a GP, got referred to a psychologist, and attended an AA meeting. None of this helped me. I would go to the psychologist and try to convince them that I was doing well. I wasn’t ready yet.

Everything spiralled out of control again. I got a deed of separation from work, which is a polite way to be asked to leave with pay. I still couldn’t see I had lost my job as a result of my drinking and being abusive on the job. My mental and physical health were deteriorating. I was lethargic all of the time. I lost interest in everything that I loved. Work, travel, relationships nothing interested me.

My wife and I moved to Malaysia, to start fresh. I thought moving would fix it again, that I wasn’t to blame. It was everyone around me. We stayed there for about a year. It was the same problem again. Me! It got to the point where I was in complete obsession and compulsion with alcohol. I couldn’t get through a day without drinking. I thought about it all day every day. Everything went downhill really quickly and when COVID hit we decided to go home.

I got back to Australia in January 2021. I wasn’t working, I drank all day every day. I tried to limit what and how much I drank. But I could not stop completely. I would have huge arguments with my wife. This went on for over a year. In May, my wife left me after 14 years of marriage. I was completely alone, I was constantly angry at everyone around me. I was unable to take any personal responsibility. My wife asked me to look at going to rehab before she would even consider reconciling.

I searched online for help. I found Hader Clinic Queensland’s website. I saw that DVA funding was available for residential addiction treatment. It shocked me that I didn’t know about this before. It hit me that there were others just like me and that there must be a real problem if a funding program has been created for Veterans. I read stories about people suffering from PTSD. It was the first time I realised that I was suffering from alcohol addiction. There I was completely powerless over the situation. No job or relationship or move overseas was going to fix me.

It was a very quick and easy process. Even though we were separated my wife helped me through it. We got in contact with Hader Clinic Queensland. In only a week I was approved and going in to receive alcohol addiction treatment. I felt it was a great location on the Sunshine Coast. It was peaceful.

The staff and nurses were wonderful. In the early stages, I thought I would just get some information and go through the motions. Once my head cleared, I started attending the classes, I was educated on the disease of addiction. I heard so many stories from other recovering addicts. This gave me hope and really opened my mind to the possibility of recovery. I realised I wasn’t unique and couldn’t do it on my own.

We were introduced to 12-step meetings and recovery literature. This was a turning point for me. We attended meetings daily and I started to see that I was going to need to change everything. Everything I was taught there gave me a foundation for success and still helps me today.

My life has improved tremendously, my wife can see the change in me already in just over 60 days. She has come home and we are working through this together. Not drinking anymore has cleared my head. I have job opportunities. Every single aspect of my life is already different and improving.

Thanks to all the staff at Hader Clinic Queensland I finally have a chance at an alcohol-free life. They taught me to open my mind and be vulnerable so I can finally receive the help I need.


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

Andrew’s Story of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Andrew is 49 years old and recently sought alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. After completing the 28-day program he has stayed sober for over 2 months. This is his story of recovery.

I grew up with my Mum and Sister. I was a very introverted child. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was very quiet and found it difficult to socialise. At the age of 5, I suffered a trauma at the hands of a loved one. Drugs and alcohol were my only coping mechanism.

The first time I drank alcohol was when I was 12. I stole it from the cupboard at home.

I remember drinking and feeling instant relief, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It took away the pain that I was dealing with on my own. I continued to steal alcohol from the cupboard at home regularly to self-medicate.

When I started high school, I made some older friends. They could get alcohol for me, I started going to parties every weekend and smoking pot most days. I wasn’t interested in school. I had no ambitions and no hobbies.

Everything centred around drinking and partying. Alcohol gave me the confidence I needed to make friends and feel a connection with other people.

I finished year 10 and started an apprenticeship. I would smoke pot every morning and drink every night. I didn’t see it as an issue, I believed that it helped me function. I completed my apprenticeship and started working. This cycle continued into my early 20’s.

My partying continued but progressed to much heavier drugs. I started to use amphetamines. I would drink myself unconscious every night and then use amphetamines to get through the day. Drugs and alcohol became the only way I could function.

When I was 27 I got married and started a family. We have a beautiful daughter together. I was able to stop the daily use of drugs but the alcohol addiction increased. My ex-wife was more accepting of the alcohol. I could not stop drinking, it didn’t even cross my mind to try. We were married for 16 years. In the last 5 years of our marriage, my drinking caused irreparable damage to our relationship.

As a result, my wife left me because she couldn’t live with me any longer, I was slowly killing myself and was horrible to be around. I was devastated and turned to drink even more alcohol to cope with the pain. I also started to smoke pot and use amphetamines daily again. I managed to maintain my work commitments, mostly because I needed the money to support my lifestyle.

Over the next 6 years after the break-up, I didn’t take a sober breath. My daughter stayed with me after the separation. She was basically my carer from the age of 14 to 20. She had to look after me every day. I would drink as soon as I got home from work until I passed out. She would cry and beg me to stop drinking.

Two years ago, my doctor told me I had to stop drinking or I would die. He told me my kidneys and liver were going to fail. My blood tests showed that if I didn’t stop drinking everything was going to shut down. I tried to stop but could only manage to reduce the amount I drank. I was drinking over a litre of scotch a night. I would reduce it down to a 6 pack.

This would last for a few weeks and then I would go back to drinking copious amounts of alcohol. If I didn’t drink, I would shake and dry reach. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms were unbearable and only drinking would make me feel ok again.

This went on for another 2 years. My doctor continued to tell me I was going to die. My daughter begged me to stop. One night I made a decision. I told my daughter I have got to stop or I will die. To my surprise, she had already been in contact with Hader Clinic Queensland. I work in a family business and my sister was very supportive of me getting help. I was able to take the time off work to get treatment.

I went to see my Doctor and asked him if there was any way I could do this on my own, he told me that I was completely dependent on alcohol and that I would need support. I was finally ready. I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally accepted help.

I went to an interview at Hader Clinic Queensland on a Thursday, and I was in there by the following Monday. The admission process was very easy and quick.

The staff at Hader Clinic Queensland were absolutely amazing, I learned about addiction. The stories of other recovering addicts gave me hope. I was given tools that had been proven and worked for other people. I was introduced to AA and NA. I was taught to read the literature.

They taught me how to journal, I had never done this before. This was life-changing. I was able to get my feelings out on paper and learn how to sit with these uncomfortable feelings. I still do this practice every day. I read the Daily Reflections and Just for Today reading every day. I attend regular meetings.

I couldn’t have done this without Hader Clinic Queensland, the guidance and education I received have turned my life around. The 28 days there gave me space between the last time I used or drank alcohol.

The foundation I built and the daily program I have been given have made living in the community clean and sober a possibility. I now have peers I can talk to. I finally feel a connection to the world around me.

72 days sober and I feel completely free from the compulsion to drink and use drugs. I know that I have a long journey ahead. Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland and the continuing support I feel confident that I have the tools I need to succeed.


Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

Nick’s Alcohol Recovery Story

Nick has been sober for 12 months today, after receiving residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story of recovery from alcohol addiction.

I grew up in a small country town in Victoria. I had a happy childhood. My family has always been close, and an amazing support system for me. Their unconditional love saved me in a lot of ways.

I always felt different. I was really energetic and unable to concentrate on anything. This caused a lot of trouble for me at school and at home. I was disruptive in class and my mum struggled to control me at home. When I was 10 years old, they diagnosed me with ADHD, and put me on medication. It helped me to calm down and focus.

When I started high school, I was one of the popular kids and found it very easy to make friends. I put on a mask by being funny and the class clown. I was also a bit of a bully which is not something I’m proud of at all. Underneath all of this was a crippling feeling of not being comfortable with myself and never feeling good enough.

I didn’t want people to see how afraid I was on the inside. The doctor advised me to take my medication in the morning and at lunchtime. I didn’t know of anyone else at my school on medication and I felt embarrassed about being different, so I wouldn’t take the medication at lunchtime. This resulted in my ADHD symptoms returning. I was impulsive, restless, and discontent.

All of my friends started drinking well before me. They drank beer, and I didn’t like the taste of it. I had my first drink around the age of 15. It gave me the confidence that I felt I was lacking. Alcohol wasn’t a problem for me straight away. I could take it or leave it.

When I finished school, I moved to Melbourne, and was living with a couple of mates who were also big drinkers, but not as heavy as me, they could control it though.

I secured a good job on the oil rigs, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off and finally 1 week on 1 week off, because I couldn’t drink when I was away on the oil rigs. I felt like I had a handle on it.

I wasn’t drinking daily or homeless. These were the things I associated with being an alcoholic. I didn’t feel like it was a problem and drinking made my ADHD symptoms better, so I could justify it. I can see now that I was self-medicating.

I had a high tolerance for alcohol. For most of my 20s, I was a binge drinker. The cycle of addiction started to cause problems in my life in my late 20s. I could see how it was negatively affecting my relationships.

Alcohol took priority, and I always lost interest in the relationship I was in. Things would be good for a while, but there was always this feeling of self-doubt, self-hate, and fear bubbling under the surface. Ultimately, my relationships would end, which led to more drinking. I was plagued with waves of depression.

One night I was so heavily intoxicated that I called my mum while I was vandalising cars by smashing their windows with my fist, my mum drove to Melbourne at 3am and stayed at my brother’s house. They lured me over there in the morning, without sleeping and I continued to drink.

My mum had been trying to help me for a while as I had already had a couple of suicide attempts (which were cries for help). She was worried about me and was trying to confront me about my drinking problem. I became abusive towards my mum and my brothers. They had organised for the police to come and when they arrived, I had an altercation with them. The police arrested me and took me to hospital.

They put me on an involuntary hold for over a week and then released me back into my family’s care. I stayed at my family’s home in the country. I stopped drinking for a few weeks, but I was unable to remain sober. It troubled me that I couldn’t stop drinking even though my family desperately wanted me to.

It made me feel like such an awful person. I couldn’t understand in the face of all the harm I had caused my family; why couldn’t I just stop drinking? I felt like a complete failure and the shame, guilt, and self-loathing were worse than ever before.

In the next few years, I had multiple near-death experiences driving cars and was charged with drink driving multiple times. The cycle of addiction was affecting every area of my life.

Drinking led me to use party drugs like ecstasy, speed, and cocaine but I was never addicted. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it would. Even with the serious consequences I was facing, I still couldn’t accept the fact that drinking could be the cause of all of this. I felt my mental health was more to blame.

I was part of a football club and drinking and partying were a huge part of the culture. I felt like everyone else was doing it, so why couldn’t I? I was completely unaware that alcohol affected me differently.

I met the mother of my children when I was 32 years old. Within 5 months we were pregnant with our first child. I was the happiest I had been in a long time; we owned a couple houses and things were great. My drinking continued but didn’t disturb me as much.

So not too long after our first child we were pregnant again, I was over the moon, I had a beautiful family of 4. We were very happy, I had two adorable boys and a very caring and loving partner. Life was good.

Soon after I fell back into a deep depression and it all started to unwind and things turned bad, my drinking had taken over. I couldn’t be the loving partner or father.

The same feelings as other relationships had crept in, I hadn’t lost interest, I still loved my ex-partner, but I couldn’t show it or be a father because of my drinking.

It was the worst feeling of my life as I had everything, but I just couldn’t see it or do the right thing.

At this stage, I stopped trying to fight my drinking. I had come to terms with it. No matter what, drinking came first. I felt if people didn’t accept this about me; I was better off without them in my life.

We had moved into our other property due to me losing my job and having to sell one of the houses. My disease had progressed, and I was drinking daily at this stage. I had no patience with my kids, and I had no energy unless I had a few drinks under my belt.

I just couldn’t handle the partner and father I was. It filled me with shame, and I truly wanted to just end it all. There were more suicide attempts. I ended up in a private mental hospital multiple times because of the attempts to take my own life. I decided it would be better for everyone if I just left. My eldest was only 3 years old when I left.

During my stay at the private mental hospital, they gave me ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) where they put you to sleep and put an electric current through your brain, this affects the brain’s activity and aims to relieve severe depressive and psychotic symptoms. My family was against it, but I wanted to try anything to stop the emotional pain. Looking back, all I had to do was stop drinking.

Denial is a big part of addiction. I still couldn’t admit that the drinking was the problem. The alcohol addiction had really isolated me from everyone I loved; I put my children and ex-partner through so much pain I couldn’t imagine them wanting anything to do with me.

This all continued to progress until I found myself completely alone. I had no one to talk to and nothing but the alcohol. I made another attempt to end my life. This time I woke up 3 days later, after being on life support. My family surrounded me. The way they looked at me was unforgettable. The nurse told me after they left that the doctors didn’t know if I was going to make it for a couple of days.

When my family left, I cried because I really didn’t want to be alive. I couldn’t bear the thought of living this way any longer. I was in the hospital for 5 or 6 nights. While I was there, my family had researched alcohol addiction treatment options for me and gave me contact information for rehab at Hader Clinic in Queensland.  We called them and signed up for the 90-day program. Before my stay at Hader Clinic Queensland, I had gone through alcohol detox at home. My family had me under round-the-clock supervision.

When I arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland, the alcohol addiction and depression had beaten me into submission, and I was finally willing to give anything a go. My brother had travelled to Queensland with me, and when he left, the reality of it all sunk in. I was terrified and felt so alone.

The first month was extremely difficult because as the fog slowly lifted, the destruction drinking had caused in my life became the only thing I could think about. The cycle of addiction had isolated me from everyone that loved me. I had lost my children, my job, and my house. There was nothing left, it was very sad, lonely, and scary.

About halfway through the 90-day program, it was like a recovery switch had been turned on. The other recovering addicts and the support workers helped me so much. I could talk about what I had been through without fear of judgment. I felt the support workers and my peers truly wanted the best for me and to see me get well.

It has been nearly 12 months since I completed the alcohol addiction treatment in May 2021. I have moved in with my family in Victoria. Happiness is having my family and close friend’s love and support. Seeing them all the time helps me to stay the positive and happy person I am today. It’s a long process but it’s worth it.

Being involved in the football club again has helped me a lot, yes they drink but they drink responsibly, something I couldn’t do in the past. The atmosphere and culture around the club is amazing for not only football but also life skills, responsibilities, and caring nature.

AA meetings both online and face to face are a big part of my life now and will continue to be.

I am so grateful to be alive and to have my children back in my life. To be the father I always wanted to be. Today I am proud to be myself and I know that by living sober, I am an excellent role model for my boys.  Recovery will be my primary focus for the rest of my life because everything good in my life starts from that. From being a good son, a good brother, a good father, and a good mate. I am finally comfortable in who I am.

I hope my story can help people suffering from alcohol addiction. Recovery is amazing and there is so much happiness in life.

Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life. The tools they taught me there still work in my life today. I am finally happy and free.


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

Even the Love for my Child Couldn’t Stop Me from Drinking

Anne is a registered nurse that recently completed a 90-day alcohol addiction treatment program at Hader Clinic Queensland. She is now just over 5 months sober after picking up her first drink at the age of 10. This is her story.

I was a happy child and was part of a loving family. My parents were heavily involved in the church. I felt my parents were very busy with their work, but I was loved and supported. When I was 10 years old, a friend’s father sexually assaulted me during a visit. It was a singular event. However, the trauma I experienced changed the course of my life forever. I felt so afraid and alone. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone about what had happened. Even if I wanted to tell someone, I couldn’t find the words. I loved it at my friend’s house. She had horses, and I wanted to be allowed to go back. I wanted everything to stay as it was before.

Shortly after this event, I had my first drink. I remember thinking this is a wonderful feeling, this is a real escape. Looking back, I can see that I threw myself into anything I could to escape from the reality of the pain & confusion I was experiencing.

I got into ballet. It became my world, and I did it obsessively. The music and movement took me somewhere else. I was a complete perfectionist about it. Dancing was an escape and gave me a place I could feel peace in my mind.

I didn’t have another drink until I was 14. It was with some girls at church. I noticed they didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. My behaviour was erratic and not acceptable. They took me home to my mum and told her I had been drinking alcohol. She said I would have a headache in the morning and that would be punishment enough. It shocked me she didn’t get angry. I wanted her to. I see now I was trying to get her attention. It was a cry for help. She didn’t tell my dad, so I felt like I got away with it.

In my mind, it was a pretty normal teenage experience to binge drink. Even though I often drank so much that I got sick. When I was 14, I met my future husband; he was 18. He was a very caring and loving person. I felt happy when I was with him. It had been 4 years since I was assaulted and I had told no one about what happened to me. During my teenage years, I continued to use alcohol and the relationship I was in to escape.

We got married when I was 20. During the first year of the marriage, I started drinking red wine a few times a week. I felt very depressed and trapped. I didn’t know if I wanted to be married. I had been in this relationship since I was 14 and felt that I didn’t have a childhood. I wondered what other girls my age were doing. There were a lot of powerful feelings.

My unresolved trauma, regular drinking, and feelings of being trapped led me to have a nervous breakdown. I told my husband that I just wanted to run away. Anywhere would be better than where I was.

I went to Tasmania with some money I had saved. I wanted a break from the marriage, a break from my reality. I stayed at BNB’s and hotels. I would go out at night to party and drink heavily. I was very promiscuous and would go home with random men. I wanted to be as free and wild as I could be. The holiday lasted for 3 weeks in total. I rang my husband and told him I had affairs and that I didn’t want to be married anymore.

When I got back, we separated. I had progressed to drinking 1 bottle of red wine a night and was a regular at bars and nightclubs. This was a very wild time in my life. I don’t recall having any control of my emotions. As devout Christians, my parents were very concerned about my divorce. I didn’t care about anything; I don’t recall caring what anyone felt or who I was hurting.

Things spiralled out of control, and my alcohol addiction was progressing. I was a registered nurse and I stopped working for around 6 months. My parents supported me financially. Because of the divorce, we sold our house in the Blue Mountains and I moved in with my sister. I had nowhere else to go. I couldn’t stay with my parents as I wanted to drink and had also started smoking pot. I lived with my sister for around 4 months.

When I was 23, I moved into a share house and started working again, but only part time. The rest of the time I was drinking and going to pubs and clubs, I still had the same agenda of escaping with men and alcohol. Shortly after moving into the share house, I met my second husband. He was a friend of one of the people I lived with.

He was a binge drinker but didn’t consider himself an alcoholic as he didn’t drink every day. My daily drinking habit concerned him, and this caused friction during our marriage. He would often talk to me about it and would even try to enforce restrictions on the amount and time I could drink.

He was a daily pot smoker. After a year of being with him, I fell pregnant with our first son. I continued to drink occasionally and smoke pot with my husband.

In the late 90s it wasn’t as unacceptable to smoke and drink a small amount during pregnancy as it is today, there wasn’t as much information about the harm it could cause. Even so I felt guilt and shame about doing it. I was rationalising and justifying my behaviour. We had 2 more children, a boy and a girl. All of my children from this marriage were born healthy. I remained married to him for 14 years.

Our marriage was not a happy one, and I had still never addressed the internal struggles I faced daily. There was no limit to the amount I drank. I would often drink so heavily that I would have blackouts. My husband was an interstate truck driver and he would go away for long periods of time.

I was working as a nurse full-time, so I only drank at night, but most nights so heavily that I would pass out or not remember what had happened. I rationalised it was ok as I would make sure the children were fed and put to bed beforehand. Although everything I did for the children, I had a drink in my hand. It was the only way I could cope with life.

There were periods where my husband would want me to stop drinking. I would try to stop, but deep inside I didn’t see it as an option, as it was my only coping mechanism. Our relationship became really unstable when he realised I had a drinking problem. He would get in his truck and leave us. He was dishonest and unfaithful. The more he lied to me, the more unhappy I got and the more I would drink to cope. It was a vicious cycle. It felt like I was trapped in this horrible cycle of alcohol addiction and couldn’t get out.

When this relationship ended, it was terrible. He fought for custody of the children. He used my drinking to say I was an unfit mother. The children were old enough to decide, and they went with their father. He had really painted me as an unfit mother to everyone that would listen, including my kids. I couldn’t cope with this. I felt so alone. I drank a lot.

Anytime I wasn’t at work, I was drunk. I was devastated and mentally unstable. This was the first time I contemplated suicide. But I knew I had to stay alive for my kids. They needed me.

I eventually got my children back in my care. They were gone for four months. It was a bitter break up and this feud continued for years.

When I was 38, I went out with a friend of mine. I met a man and got into a new relationship. Things moved fast, and he moved in shortly after we met. He was great with my kids at the start. However, he was a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. I liked this about him. It was a total green light. He completely enabled my drinking. He was 10 years younger than me, and we had the common interest of sex and heavy drinking.

2 years into this relationship, I fell pregnant with my youngest daughter. I was still drinking heavily and smoking pot. I rationalised I was healthy and that it hadn’t affected my other 3 kids. I had no choice to stop. The relationship struggled. He became very abusive after my daughter was born. He would runaway through the night. I knew he was an alcoholic, but I later found out he was an ice addict as well.

When our daughter was 6 months old, he became very violent towards me. He refused to work so I had to go back to working full time. I had 4 kids to support and a mortgage to pay.

For the next 2 years, I was assaulted physically, mentally and sexually daily. My drinking was continuous and I would regularly have blackouts. When I was unconscious, he would assault me. He would always come back despite me trying to end the relationship. I was powerless, my life became a living nightmare, I was so sick. I couldn’t end this relationship or stop drinking.

Our daughter was 2 when I finally got him out of my life. My parents came and stayed with me on and off. They helped me get him out of my life for good. I took him to court and got an AVO against him.

They charged him with the physical and sexual assault. They offered me domestic violence support which helped me, but I was still drinking so heavily that even though he was gone, my life remained completely out of control.

My daughter had learning difficulties at school. She couldn’t read well and was behind her peers at school. I took her to specialists. They thought it was because of all the trauma she experienced. They later diagnosed her with foetal alcohol syndrome, complex trauma, and depression. I was devastated. I could no longer deny the impact my drinking and my unhealthy relationships had on my children’s life. I desperately wanted to stop but could not find a way out.

I had no choice but to live in this horrible cycle of drinking to cope with life. The constant shame and guilt I felt was unbearable.

Two years ago my family intervened. They took my daughter to Cairns to live with my sister. My alcoholism had progressed so far, and I could not care for my daughter. I couldn’t do anything. The alcohol was the most important thing in my world and I became completely depressed. I tried to commit suicide multiple times.

My parents gave me an ultimatum to either get well or I could not have my daughter back in my care. Even the love I had for my child couldn’t stop me from drinking. For 18 long months, I was in a living hell. I still had my house and my job but I was completely alone. I had no family, no children. The only person I could speak to was my sister, and this was only to talk to my daughter.

The isolation and the degradation I felt are unforgettable. I missed my daughter immensely. I made many attempts to stop drinking on my own. I was never successful. I did not understand the disease of addiction. I would try to stop cold turkey or try to just smoke pot. I could stop for short periods of time, but I couldn’t stay stopped on my own.

Six months ago I had come to a point where I felt like my life was so awful, I was so unhappy. I knew I couldn’t continue this way. My sister said to me, why don’t you just go to rehab, just give it a go for even just a month? I did some research online. I saw Hader Clinic Queensland offered a 90-day rehabilitation program. Rehab had not been something I had considered previously.

After some research, Hader Clinic Queensland seemed like the best place to go. I felt I had a good chance to get sober there. I thought if I am going to do this I want to go somewhere that I had a good chance of recovery and reading through the recovery stories gave me hope.

I decided to go there. I was not forced or manipulated to go there; the choice was mine. I think that is important because all the other times I had tried to get sober had been for other people. This time, I wanted it for myself.

Of course, I was afraid and didn’t really like the idea of going to rehab. I slept a lot in the first 5 days and just took direction from the staff. I felt awful but I knew I was in the right place. After the 3rd day, I started going to the classes. The staff really cared for me and supported me.

The Hader Clinic gave me a great foundation. The accountability and structure they taught me still help me today. I learned that alcoholism was a disease, that it was a progressive fatal illness with no cure. The only way out was to follow the program they gave me. They also encouraged me to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and work the 12 steps. Since leaving rehab, I have thrown myself into the AA program.

I have made connections with people in the rehab and in my fellowship. I am now coming up to 5 months. Hader Clinic Queensland changed my life. I have now bought a house in Cairns and I am working as a nurse.

The tools I have learned help me be a part of my family and my community in a way I have never experienced before. I go to my sister’s house every day to spend time with my daughter. She is 10 next week and is going to stay with me regularly.

Hader Clinic Queensland gave me the knowledge that I was just a really sick person and being with other people with the same illness showed me I was not alone in this. They introduced me to Yoga and many daily practices that keep me healthy. Body, mind, and soul.

I finally have a reprieve from this disease. I have replaced alcohol with real coping mechanisms that help me deal with a range of emotions and live my life to the fullest. My mind is clear and I can finally find the words and the strength to get help with the trauma I experienced as a child.

I am finally free to be my true self. Today, I experience true joy.

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

Kristen’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

When Kristen went to rehab, she had no intentions of giving up drinking. Her plan was to do a 90-day residential addiction treatment at the Hader Clinic Queensland, and then carry on drinking. She didn’t know any other way. It turned out Kristen can live without alcohol.

This is her story.

My name is Kristen. It’s been 4 years since I completed the 90-day residential rehab program and outpatient program for my alcohol addiction. I was in active addiction for over 25 years. I’m sober now.

I had a normal childhood. I had a Mum, Dad, nice home, and didn’t want anything else. My mother had a short temper. In those days, it was expected that children behave; if they didn’t, they were punished. My punishments usually involved high levels of violence from my mother.

My father was an alcoholic – though he was a kind, gentle man.

My parents gave me a lot of freedom when I was a teen, but not a lot of education around that freedom. I had my first son when I was very young, and I wouldn’t change it for the world now. Mum and Dad were very supportive, and now I have a beautiful grandson who’s 16. I finished school and completed an apprenticeship. I met my now ex-husband, got married, and had two more beautiful children.

My husband was very dominating and controlling – he never hit me, but he made me feel less-than, useless, stupid, and inadequate.

I couldn’t make decisions about anything…. ever!!!!

We were very social. We’d often go out or entertain at home; birthday parties, anniversaries, sporting events…. any excuse to celebrate.

Drinking enabled me to talk – I was quiet and had no self-confidence. I’ve realised since I’ve been sober that even back then, when I drank, I drank to get drunk. There were never 1 or 2 drinks – what’s the point? I always drank to get drunk. I never thought, even in the later years, that there was anything wrong with that.

We’d go to barbeques, and all the mothers would sit together with half a glass of wine that had long gone warm, and I’d be drinking with the men. I’d often think, “what’s wrong with you ladies?” not “what’s wrong with me?”  Social events to me, were an excuse to drink, and to drink was to get drunk……every time.

My husband was always the one who would take the kids home after a night out. I would usually stay and party.

I could never guarantee my behaviour when I was drinking. I wanted attention – attention from other men mostly. It was inappropriate, and all as a result of drinking.

In the beginning, it was at events I’d be drinking – I didn’t really drink at home. In my 30s, I started drinking at home – just on weekends. But then it progressed and became every day.

At around age 40, my drinking really started to escalate. My ex-husband told me he wasn’t interested in me anymore, but he didn’t believe in divorce. He firmly believed marriage was “til death do us part” – even if you’re miserable. And I believed I wouldn’t be able to make a life for myself and the kids on my own.

For the last 10 years I was drinking daily, it was just me and alcohol. I isolated and withdrew from the world. I would black-out every time I drank. By the end of my drinking career, just a couple of drinks caused me to black out. What few memories I have of this time are not good ones.

I used to sit in my room in the evenings, alone, watching TV and drinking. I’d write myself notes about what I was doing; what I cooked for dinner, what time I went to bed etc. Just so I knew what happened each night.

In 2016, I had weight loss surgery, and things really became bad then. After that surgery, my tolerance for alcohol was greatly reduced. Though, that didn’t stop me from consuming the same quantities I always had.

Most nights, my ex-husband would find me in various places around the house, passed out.

One night, I fell passed out on a chair outside, and was leaning up against the doghouse. It compressed a nerve in my upper arm; this caused my hand to become paralysed for 7-8 months. I woke up and I couldn’t move my hand at all.

I was always covered in bruises and scratches. I had no idea how I got them. I’d long stopped going out anywhere drinking. I would go to work each day, finish at lunch time. Then I’d go home and drink for the rest of the day.

In 2017, I came to Brisbane to care for my mother after she had an operation. I lost my job at home, so decided to stay with my mother indefinitely…. my drinking progressed even more. I would take my first drink the moment I woke in the morning.

My feet and legs were turning purple. I was a mess. I was underweight too – 56 kgs, skin and bone.

Eventually, I was sat down by my ex-husband who said, once again, “You’ve got to stop.”

I wasn’t happy. I wouldn’t listen to anybody – especially him of all people.

He put me into the Damascus detox unit first. I had two stints there. Both times I left, my first stop was the pub, which is right next door.

They gave me a lot of education about what alcohol was doing to my body physically, but it didn’t take away the need to drink.

It was July of 2017 when my ex-husband said I had to go to the Hader Clinic Queensland. It was a family intervention, I guess. By that time, I had no fight left in me. I thought, I can’t live without alcohol, I’ll die if I can’t drink. I also knew if I continued down the path I was on, it would kill me.

It was the best thing he ever did for me, and I’ve thanked him for it.

I didn’t know what to expect at Hader. It saved my life. There were routines and rules, and I loved that. The routine I learnt in there, is one I still use today. We exercised daily. There were group classes, discussions, meetings, weekly rostered cleaning and cooking duties, weekly social trips out to various places, art classes, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions.

Hader Clinic Queensland introduced me to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would go to meetings daily. It has saved my life. I used to think it had changed my life, but it has changed me. Taught me how to live.

At some point during rehab, things started clicking for me. I can’t remember the specific day. But going to those meetings, and just seeing people with happy smiling faces, that feeling of connection and belonging, and just realising that I wasn’t the only one, I wasn’t alone, really changed things for me. I learnt that I suffered from the disease of alcoholism. I wasn’t a bad person; I was a sick person.

I was lying in bed one night, doing my meditation. My eyes were closed, and I saw this white light. I don’t know if I was asleep and dreaming, or still awake, but I felt this sense of calm. I remember thinking, Jesus… there really must be something to all this.

When I left Hader I didn’t want or need to drink. That insanity was gone. I do remember thinking in the first few days though, this is all too hard, too much work (Alcoholics Anonymous has a few things they suggest we do to maintain our sobriety……and they aren’t hard, really). My next thought was, you know what, no one else is going to do it for you, so just get on with it. Now, what I thought was hard work, is my routine. And it is keeping me sober.

I did the Aftercare & Relapse Prevention program with the Hader Clinic Queensland. My ex-husband supported me financially. I travelled all over the place to different AA meetings.

When I was 6 months sober, I went back home to visit the kids, thinking I’d be fine. But I wasn’t.

I was in the same house; it was just the same. I had a drink. Then I came back to Brisbane.

That madness was back in my head.

I wanted to drink. Though I didn’t, I wanted to. I kept going to meetings, kept doing what I’d been doing since leaving Hader – I didn’t want to do rehab again.

I was white knuckling it.

On the 5th of June 2018, I said fuck it. I’m going to have a drink – a big drink. I can’t fight this anymore. But I’ll be civilised, and I won’t have it till 5pm. I went to an AA meeting, then caught the train home. I was trying to meditate but knew that I would be going to the bottle shop straight after doing a few other things. I heard a story during that meeting. He said, I’ve lost my home, lost my family, and all I’ve got left is myself. That just kept going round in my head. I’m the same. All I have left is myself. And if I drink today, I’ll lose that too.

By the time I’d done my errands, I realised I didn’t want that drink anymore. The thought, the urge, had gone. That voice telling me to drink was quiet. It had been about 5 weeks since that drink at home.

So, I didn’t drink that day. I cried. I sat down and cried, because I knew, if I had had a drink that day, I would have got 2 bottles of wine and a litre bottle of vodka and had a decent drink like the good old days. I would have drunk it all.

I then got myself a sponsor and continued to work the steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

This day was 5 June 2018, which just happens to be my late father’s birthday. I believe my dad and my higher power saved me that day.

Today, I’ve mended my relationships with my children and extended family. I’ve got a great job. I can live life. It’s just amazing.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning to start my day, is to sit and read the Daily Reflections. I’ve always done that. I say a prayer. They’ve changed over time, but the main one is to thank God that I’ve woken up, thank God I’m sober, and thank God for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘Please help me turn my fear into faith and show me where I can be of service to others’.

These are all things I’ve learned in the last 4 years.

After I’ve read and done my prayers, I exercise. I go to boot camp. That was another thing we did in Hader, the exercise – something I’ve always liked. They’re a great group of people. It’s called PEPT – positive existence personal training. It’s feel-good stuff. I’ve got some great friends out of that.

My partner and I enjoy going away and attending various social events. When I was drinking, I’d have a bottle of wine before I’d even left the house. In social situations now, the thought of a drink doesn’t even enter my mind. I don’t want it. I’m not looking for it. It’s just not a thing. It’s as though I was never a drinker. There’s no thought or effort on my part.

It’s amazing.

And guess what!!! I can go out and have a great time. I can go to pubs for a meal, go to an 80s night with a live band, dress up, have fun and dance. I can drive home and remember the great night.

I have an amazing partner. He loves the AA program too – he’s never been in addiction, though he has been to meetings with me. He gets so much out of them too.

He’s seen what AA has done for me; he saw me at my worst.

I’ve learned so much. It’s a real program for living.

I never thought life could be so good. My kids want to be a part of my life now. I don’t see my daughter all the time, due to distance. The last time I saw her, she was just watching me, and her jaw was pretty much on the floor. She said to me, “I’ve never seen you like this mum. You’re so happy.”

My youngest child was 25 when I got sober. My kids missed out on a lot because my drinking always came first. They have forgiven me. They are grateful I am well.

They want to be a part of my life now. They’ll stay with me. They’ll ring me. They’ll ask me for advice. They’ll leave my grandkids with me.

I’ve recently got my first “sponsee” (person I sponsor) and am enjoying taking her through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’m also looking into doing H and I (Hospitals and Institutions, a committee of AA members that carry the message of AA to alcoholics in hospitals, prisons and other institutions).

I look forward to life every day. I love waking up in the morning and living life on life’s terms.

I just love what the Hader Clinic Queensland has done for me…. a second chance at life. Thank you.

Renee’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

A successful psychologist, Renee never thought she’d be the one needing help. After an unsuccessful rehab stint overseas, Renee attended the Hader Clinic Queensland for alcohol addiction treatment. This is her story.

It wasn’t until I was 37 that I had my first drink.

Growing up, I had a very normal childhood and upbringing. I was raised in a Christian family, and particularly in the church back then, alcohol was very taboo. It was frowned upon, and people just didn’t do it.

In my family, we were never allowed it. There was never a drop of alcohol anywhere in the house. Or when we went out. If you were to drink, that would be a big deal. I was never exposed to it as a teen or even as a young adult.

I got married at 18 because back then, you were encouraged to get married rather than have sex outside of marriage. It didn’t really matter if it was the wrong person. I was married for 18 years.

My husband left me when I was 37, and that’s when I first started drinking.

I realised at the time, that it numbed the pain. It gave me some relief from the feeling. That was my introduction to what I thought was the benefit of drinking.

After that, I realised that I didn’t even like the taste, but I liked the effect. So, at the end of the day, I would have a glass of wine, just to settle me before bed. It became a regular thing, that one glass. Then that built up to two, and then three, and then a bottle, and then two bottles.

I always knew it was a problem. And I was very proud that I could get away with it. I didn’t really think I was an alcoholic, just high functioning.

I’m a psychologist, and it wouldn’t affect my work. I would work every day. I knew my limits for me to maintain my work schedule during the week. I would go harder on the weekends because I knew I could. I thought I wasn’t like anyone else. I thought I’m not harming anyone, it’s not doing any damage, so why can’t I do this?

However, my husband (I got remarried), who has been wonderful through all this, would regularly say to me that he felt lonely at night. He said it was like I wasn’t there; like I was checking out. He felt lonely in that period. I wasn’t nasty or rude, but I was absent.

Out in public, you couldn’t pick it. When I was out with friends, I wouldn’t drink. I didn’t drink for the taste and one drink wouldn’t do anything for me, so I’d rather not. Then I’d go home, go to the bedroom, and down a bottle.

In 2018, I went to rehab in Thailand. It was great. I went for a month. It was very luxurious – like a resort, and quite cheap. They had lots of psychologists, the accommodation was luxurious, and there were celebrities there. But it ended up failing, and I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, which gave me results.

I did enjoy rehab in Thailand, but after returning, I was sober for about 6 months. One thing I didn’t do when I left rehab was attend any AA meetings. It was wonderful while I was there, but after I came back, I didn’t give it anything.

Hader Clinic has been life-changing.

One thing I didn’t ever want to do because of my profession, was go to AA meetings. With our AHPRA registration, if people find out you’re an alcoholic, it has the potential to affect your registration. It was a big barrier for me in getting help. In fact, for anyone in the medical profession, it’s a big barrier. You’ve got to really trust the people in the rooms, and I didn’t really trust the people, especially here at the Sunny Coast where I’m known (I practice psychology here).

My husband dropped me off at Hader Clinic, and I couldn’t believe it; the first day, that afternoon, they said we were going to an AA meeting. The meeting location was in the area where I lived.

I couldn’t believe it.

I was really shocked that first night. I was close to going back home, after hearing I’d have to attend a meeting. It had really annoyed me and scared me.

But one thing Hader Clinic Queensland did well was the meetings. Every day we had to go to a meeting, and the more I went, the more I got used to it, and I didn’t feel so paranoid about what it would be like. It was different to what I thought it would be.

Over in Thailand, we only did it once a week. I think it was the biggest point of difference between the two rehabs.

That first meeting was scary. I was just scanning the room for anyone who might possibly know me, thinking, who do I know, who do I know? Being a psychologist, I was looking around to see if there was anyone there I had worked with. I couldn’t really relax or enjoy it because I was too busy scanning the room.

It took me a few sessions to calm down. But what worked was the next night when we went to Cotton Tree for the women’s NA.

I walked in and I did know someone in the room.

I looked at this woman, and it was my worst fear – seeing someone that knew me in a professional capacity. She came up to me after the meeting and gave me a big hug, and just said, “Welcome. It’s so good to see you.”

I was quite overwhelmed with how she just accepted me, and that there was no judgement.

After that, I was fine and realised my fear was all in my head.

I think the strength of Hader Clinic is the support staff. They were great. JJ was awesome, and Mark, and Donna.

The staff were just amazing. And the psychologist I had too, she was good to work with.

The staff, meetings, and family components were the standout things for me.

I’ve got adult children, some with partners. So when I was in rehab, they all did the family therapy program. It became this whole investment; the family became a big part of it.

My family were really invested, so it put pressure on me in a good way to step up. When they’re all invested, it makes me want to do my best. It’s another layer, realising that my drinking has an impact on the family as well.

We’ve had rules since I’ve been out. They all drink around me, but they must take the alcohol with them; it’s not to remain at the house.

Another thing that’s really helped me is that my husband’s never had any alcohol around me. If we go out, he won’t drink. At home, he won’t drink. Wherever I am, he won’t drink, and it’s been helpful.

Having family be a part of rehab is huge. I feel differently now. I don’t feel like a failure anymore. I feel like I modelled something to my family. I showed them what it’s like to go and get help. I also modelled to them that it doesn’t matter how addiction presents, it’s not okay, and this is what you should do.

I feel as if I’ve created a bit of a legacy in the family. Potentially something that was quite shameful, shame-filled, and negative, became a real positive for me.

I’m nine months sober now. I never thought making it through Christmas and New Year would be possible, but I did. The kids tell me how proud they are of me.

Thank you to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me get where I am today.


Phil’s Addiction Recovery

After this 5-year-old son had a life-changing accident in his care, Phil’s teenage drinking habit became a lifestyle. This is the story of his residential addiction treatment and recovery.

Before everything happened, I would only drink on the weekends.

When I was a kid, I was quite nerdy (I played dungeons and dragons). When I was 15 though, I grew out my hair and suddenly became popular. I got into the party scene, and my new friends and I would party and drink on weekends. After finishing school, I lost those friends and took up ice skating as a hobby. Me and my ice-skating friends would go for a drink after skating on Friday and Saturday nights. At some point I ended up having a drink before skating as well.

And I did this for years until I was about 26, when there was big snowfall that ended up destroying the ice rinks.

But I maintained my habit of drinking. Occasionally I smoked weed as well.

I met my wife in November of 1996. We got engaged in February, and then a year later, were married in January of 1998. My first daughter was born in 1999, and in 2004, my family decided to move to Australia.

In 2005, my son Jordan was born. We built a house, and life was very normal. We were your typical nuclear family you’d see on TV.

In 2010, Jordan had an accident.

It was a Wednesday night. My wife wasn’t at home at the time, so he was with me.

He choked on a piece of Lego.

He basically died in my arms.

He turned blue and stopped breathing, and did CPR on him until the Ambos arrived. They managed to get his heart beating again. They rushed him to the hospital, got the piece out, but by that time the lack of oxygen had damaged part of his brain.

I think because of that, I do suffer from some PTSD.

He now can’t speak or swallow or move his arms or legs. We just communicate through blinks, smiles, cries, and laughs, but that’s about it.

That’s kind of when things started.

I was drinking on weekends, but then it spiralled. I don’t know how it happened, but it became every day. I would go from work straight to the bottle store and buy a bottle of Jim Beam. I’d drink three-quarters of that on the way home, then pretend I wasn’t drunk. But obviously, my wife saw through that straight away.

For years it was a blur. I wasn’t there for my family; I wasn’t there for my wife. I basically isolated myself. I’d be in one room, and they’d be in the other.

I guess somewhere in my head I thought if I can’t see it, it isn’t there.

It got to the point where she had had enough. On September 16, 2020, she said she wanted to separate. That just hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt overwhelming emotion and I broke down.

She said, “Oh. I didn’t think you’d take it this hard, I thought you’d be happy.”

I was like… “No way.”

I said I’d do anything. I googled all the rehabs and got into Hader Clinic Queensland. I went there for alcohol addiction treatment, not knowing what was going to happen. I still had hope at that stage, that things were going to work out between me and my wife.

I did my thirty days, which was very interesting.

It wasn’t what I expected rehab to be.

You hear about rehab and see it on TV, and you think hospitals and doctors, and a clinical setting. But it was different. It was good. You got involved in everything. You were responsible.

The biggest thing I learned in rehab is that addiction is a disease – a physical and psychological disorder. I never knew that. I had once thought it was a choice.

Learning that it’s something that’s hardwired in your brain was a real eye-opener for me.

The whole concept of it changed. I’d tried to get my wife at the time to go to al-anon to get some perspective on it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

It was also eye-opening to see other people who had the same problem. Even though the drugs were all different, the psychological effects and symptoms were the same.

We could relate to each other’s stories. There were people in there I’d initially just thought were “druggos”, but they were really just everyday people. It was crazy finding out how many people have these problems. My old way of thinking was that I was the only one. But it’s a widespread problem. So many people are going through this.

It was a very supportive environment there. The staff were strict but caring. There was always someone to talk to if you needed it, and they took everything you were saying very seriously. They didn’t just brush you off.

You’d get phone calls on Sundays. During my last phone call to my wife in rehab, she said she was done, it’s over.

I said, “Please don’t say that yet.” That was heart-breaking.

I got home and she was still there. I didn’t get any hugs or anything.

I got out of rehab October 23rd and Christmas was really awkward. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know if we’d still be together or not. But come January, she said, “I think we should start talking to some lawyers.”

That’s when it hit home that this was actually happening. I thought coming out of rehab, I’d be different. But I was still the same person, just not drinking.

I reluctantly had to go to a lawyer. I went through the motions, ended up selling the house.

I’ve been living alone since February 6.

It’s kind of ironic – February 6 is the day I proposed to her. And it’s also the day I moved out. 24 years later.

Living alone isn’t bad. Sometimes it gets lonely and boring, but I just keep my mind active by doing things.

When I got out of rehab and things were spiralling, I was very suicidal for a while there. I lost a whole lot of money trying to find ways to euthanise myself, with drugs from overseas.

At the end of the day, I didn’t end up doing anything. I guess there was a reason for that.

I got through that. And I’m still here. But there was a time, just last week, where I felt the same way. I think it’s because of Christmas. This will be my first Christmas by myself. The kids have kind of ignored me. I haven’t had a visit from them at all since February. I have to go down there to see them.

I think my daughter pretty much blames me for everything. Unfortunately, like a lot of people in this world, my now ex-wife seems to think that it’s just a choice. That you can choose not to pick up.

I tried to explain to her that it’s not quite that easy.

I tried to do everything I could to fix things, but obviously for her it was too little too late. She’d made her mind up. I don’t see us ever getting back together, even though I’d like to.

I’m not proud of what I became, but every day, I’m trying to be a better person.

I think my heavy drinking started just to numb the feelings and the pain and guilt of my son’s accident. Those feelings will probably stay with me forever.

It’s just the way it is. I can’t change what’s happened. If someone had a time machine, I would go back and change things.

But I believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what the reason was, that Jordie had his accident, but maybe if he hadn’t had his accident, a week later he could have been in a car crash and died, I don’t know.

When I feel down or negative, the best thing that works for me is going for a drive. I live in the Gold Coast, so I like to drive up to the Hinterland. Or jump on my bike and go for a ride. Go kayaking. Anything that keeps my mind active and not getting in my own head. It’s easy to slide downhill when your mind goes to that place. Even just the other day, I thought, what if she’s got another boyfriend, what if she’s moved on? What if this guy is treating my kids as his own?

Then I had to snap myself out of it. That thought would have gone somewhere bad. I’m still on medication for antidepressants and stuff. I don’t know how long that’ll be for, but I leave that up to my GP.

Really, I just put one foot in front of the other at the moment and live in the present.

If I look too far ahead, I worry. But you never know what tomorrow might bring.

My advice to anyone starting rehab is this:

Do it for yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else.

I went into rehab for my family. More than myself. And that was the wrong reason. I learned, and it’s an unfortunate thing, but anything you put in front of your recovery, you will lose. So do it for you.

And listen. Listen to the staff. They know. They really know.

Rehab is not a quick fix. It’s not like you go to rehab and come out “Yay! Things are great again!”

No. It’s just the first step. It’s a massive journey, a lifelong journey. So be prepared for the long haul.

If you’re struggling, ring somebody. Get phone numbers. Ring somebody. Even to say “Hi, how you going?”

You’d be amazed the difference that makes. Getting it out of your head, on paper or speaking to somebody, it changes your perspective on what’s going on. That’s important.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m an alcoholic. I’m no longer an active alcoholic. I’m a recovering alcoholic.

And I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

Why You Should Try Dry January

The concept of a “Dry January” has developed into an annual tradition for many people, so why don’t you give it a try?

Motivation for going alcohol-free for the first month of the year is driven by many things. For example, some people use it as part of a New Year’s resolution to drink less, while others consider January a way to detox from an overindulgent Christmas holiday period.

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a noticeable increase in alcohol consumption within the community, which is highlighting the effects that alcohol has on individuals, their families, and society as a whole.

“Dry January” is often marketed as a way to improve health. The benefits of being sober are THAT compelling, that undertaking a “Dry January” could be a good start to adopting a sober lifestyle on a permanent basis.

The benefits of eliminating alcohol consumption are as follows.

Your general health will improve

It’s been well documented that excessive drinking (defined by more than one standard drink per day for women and two for men) is associated with negative health effects such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, not to mention increased risk for diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and liver problems.

You will sleep better and feel more energetic

Contrary to popular opinion, drinking alcohol can mess with sleeping patterns, which in turn affects energy levels throughout the day. Many participants in “Dry January” challenges report greater energy levels and more clarity of thought.

You may lose weight if that is a goal

One gram of alcohol contains seven calories. A couple of glasses of alcohol can add significant caloric intake in addition to food and may make it easier to gain weight. Conversely, removing alcohol from your life may make it easier to lose weight, particularly in tandem with the increased feelings of energy that also occur.

You may improve your immunity and resistance to illness

The USA’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that excessive alcohol intake can suppress our immune system response.  According to the Institute, one evening of heavy drinking can impede the effectiveness of our immune systems. While having a depressed immune system is undesirable at the best of times, it’s particularly problematic during a pandemic event such as COVID-19.

You may change your relationship with yourself and others

Being alcohol-free can have a marked impact on the relationship you have with yourself. You may experience improvements in your mental clarity and your ability to problem solve usually complex tasks. Your feelings and emotions may be sharper – which can often lead to a greater ability to re-evaluate where you are headed in life.

Your relationships with others may improve because without alcohol, you can be more present and engaged. Additionally, you may find that you become more tolerant of and less reactive towards others, due to an improved ability to think clearly and rationally.

You WILL improve your mental health

Think about some of the narratives around drinking alcohol. People drink for a multitude of reasons, for example, to celebrate an event. Yet people also drink to numb emotional pain and to change their mood. Removing alcohol from your life, whether in January or beyond, can propel you to take better care of your mental health and allow you to better experience your emotions in a healthy way.

If you are drinking to numb or insulate yourself from psychological pain, it’s worth considering seeking help from a mental health professional.  The Hader Clinic Queensland can help in this regard.

It’s time to change the narrative in 2022 around alcohol – and seek help if you need it.

Clever marketing has portrayed drinking alcohol as a desirable trait, however, from a health perspective, this narrative is completely false and potentially fatal for susceptible individuals.

Changing the discussion around alcohol in our society should include promoting sobriety as THE optimal lifestyle choice.

The Hader Clinic Queensland applauds the concept of engaging in a dry January and encourages everyone to consider living a sober life permanently. Why? Because there is no downside to having better emotional regulation, better health and a clearer mind!

However, if you have been drinking heavily, it may be unsafe to attempt a “cold turkey” detox from alcohol. The Hader Clinic Queensland Private hospital specialises in medical detox from alcohol and other drugs. This ensures your commitment to removing alcohol in your life is done safely and effectively.


Colin’s Alcohol Recovery Story

Sick of himself, and feeling the strain on his marriage, Colin attended residential addiction treatment for his alcohol addiction.

Hi, my name is Colin.  I am looking forward to the best years of my life now that I am no longer affected by alcohol.

I’m fifty-nine years old. I did Hader Clinic Queensland’s thirty-day program and have been in recovery for just over four months.

Like lots of other young men, I started drinking when I was 15-16 years old. I played all types of sport – you name it – soccer, golf, cricket, and these games usually involved having a drink afterwards as a means of wrapping up a game, series etc.

I also worked as a tradesman and having a drink after a long hot day on the tools was commonplace.

At this time, I did not concern myself with whether I had a problem with drinking or alcohol in general. It was just part of my life and I considered myself to be as normal as the next Aussie bloke.

I felt like I was the typical red-blooded Aussie male immersed in a national drinking culture.

In my mid-30s, my business collapsed. At the same time, my first wife asked for a divorce. I had no idea how to handle these feelings of despair, grief, and panic, so I turned to what I knew would numb the pain – drinking.

However, I slowly but surely got back on my feet, launched a new business, met a nice lady (my now wife) and rebuilt again. The tide was starting to turn, and life was better.

This meant that rather than drinking to numb my feelings, I was drinking for excitement. Underneath it all, I was an unstable mess. The first business collapse had hit me hard, and my drinking was driven by fear of the same thing happening again.

“Don’t mess up,” I told myself, all the while drinking to numb the feelings of insecurity and panic, plus marvel that I’d been able to back up financially.

Today, I wonder what could have possibly been if I had been sober!

Over the last five to six years, I was able to establish myself in a good position financially. At the same time, I realised that I could not stop drinking.

I tried doctors, counselling, psychologists, and medications with limited success.  I tried naltrexone, which had unfortunate side effects, plus I knew that I could go back to drinking as soon as I stopped.

I’d have one or two drinks and I’d think, “screw it, may as well keep going”.  I measured my intake by the bottle, rather than the percentage of alcohol.

I was sick of myself. My wife was sick of me.

I wasn’t violent, neither did I wreck things. I considered myself to be a “high functioning” alcoholic who was successfully running two businesses. I wasn’t on a park bench, neither was I drinking at 6am.

Yet, I was out of control.

Deciding that it was time to make a change, I searched for residential rehabs.

Given that I wanted a safe detox from alcohol, I chose to attend the Hader Clinic Queensland Private hospital and did their detox and rehabilitation program.

Luckily, my private health insurance covered a lot of the cost.

My thirty days in hospital felt quite surreal. It wasn’t your usual hospital experience. There were all types of classes about addiction to attend and I even learned how to meditate.

However, I had moments of fun too. I had emotionally bottomed out, so it was nice to learn how to “feel” things again.

Rehab felt like my last shot, and I had been ready to act. It gave me the breathing space to evaluate what I wanted from life and it was enlightening to be functioning as a sober person.

Naturally when I was discharged, I was fearful about how I would manage. However, attending AA meetings twice a week and doing the book work has been a leveller. It’s a myth that alcoholics are the guys you see zonked out on the park bench. I rub shoulders with people from all walks of life and that gives me the confidence to stay straight.

My family are happy and grateful that I went to rehab. My relationships with them are much improved. I’m a much calmer, less reactive person.

Work has improved out of sight. Before rehab, I had felt beaten down and wanting to retire. Now, I am thinking clearly, feel engaged and enthusiastic about what I’m doing. Therefore, I delayed my retirement. It’s really the first time in my own business that I have been sober, and I couldn’t be happier.

I think success in rehab has to do with being ready, asking questions, and learning to recognize the B.S you tell yourself when you’re in active addiction.

If you realise that you have a problem from the beginning, the recovery seems to be easier to manage.

I have been fine around others drinking during this Christmas period. I have moments where I think it would be nice, but I remain vigilant about not going down that path. If there’d been a Christmas party prior to rehab, I most certainly would have been the drunkest person there.

It’s a relief not to be that person anymore. My plan is to continue my regular AA meetings and do my bookwork.

And take one day at a time! Thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland for your help and support.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a disease that can affect any individual and requires alcohol addiction treatment.

It does not have a specific cause or determining factor. However, genetic, psychological, or behavioural factors may contribute to having an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions impact the brain and neurochemistry, which means that individuals with the disease may be unable to control their actions. A variety of factors impact the severity of the disease, such as how often a person drinks, how much they drink, and the type of alcohol that is consumed. Some may drink every day, and others may binge drink and have periods of sobriety.

If you heavily rely on alcohol and can’t stay sober for an extended period, you may have an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions are different to drug addictions, as alcohol is widely available and accepted, unlike drugs. Alcohol is commonly linked to parties or celebrations. For this reason, it can be difficult to recognise alcohol addiction.

It may be tricky to determine whether someone enjoys having a few drinks, or if they have an addiction. Symptoms of addiction include:

  • You have increased the quantity of alcohol you consume
  • You increase the frequency of alcohol consumption
  • You have a high tolerance for alcohol or often don’t feel symptoms of a hangover
  • You drink alcohol at times that are not appropriate. For example, early mornings or during work
  • If you always want to be somewhere where you can access alcohol, and if you avoid areas that have no access to alcohol
  • If there is a change in your friendships, for example, you may be choosing to make friends with other alcohol addicts
  • You avoid contacting loved ones
  • You hide your alcohol or hide when you drink
  • You feel a dependence on alcohol to get through everyday life
  • You feel an increase in tiredness, depression, or other mental health issues
  • You have experienced professional or legal problems, for example, you lost your job

Addictions often worsen over time. For this reason, you should look out for early warning signs to target as early as possible to avoid drastic consequences that arise because of alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addictions can cause a variety of health issues, such as:

  • Heart or liver disease, which can be fatal
  • The emergence of ulcers
  • Complications with diabetes
  • Birth defects
  • Loss of bone
  • Problems with your vision
  • An increased risk of cancer

Taking risks while intoxicated can also cause fatal accidents. For example, drink driving, as well as drinking is associated with higher cases of suicide or murder. However, most of these risks can be eradicated if the alcohol addiction is targeted early.

Some treatment options include residential addiction treatment, alcoholics anonymous groups, other support groups, drug therapy, counselling, or nutritional changes.

If you believe you’re living with an addict, the Hader Clinic Queensland can help you understand how to navigate this moving forward.

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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