Alcohol Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

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.

Sheehan’s Journey Through Alcohol Addiction to Recovery

After 60 days of residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, Sheehan is over nine months clean and sober. This is his story.

After a childhood of moving around a lot, I discovered alcohol and drugs in my teens which resulted in years of active addiction. I’ve completed 60 days of residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland and am looking to a future sober and free from drugs.

My parents migrated to England from East Africa before I was born, and we spent all of my childhood moving countries every couple of years and changing schools every few months. I struggled to develop close friendships and experienced a feeling of internal displacement from the constant readjusting after each move. When I was 15 I drank alcohol for the first time and smoked a bit of pot.

I hadn’t been exposed to alcohol really before this, except in music, movies, and TV where it was romanticised, so I went pretty hard. Even though I had made a mess of myself I do remember loving it from the start though, because of the feeling of peace I felt when I drank. All the noise and confusion and feelings of internal displacement that was running through my teenage head was quiet. And I was able to talk to girls.

When I was 18 I decided to move back to Australia which we had spent some time in during my childhood. I studied at university and developed strong relationships with people that I am still friends with today. But I had developed a relationship with alcohol that was already turning into alcoholism.

I knew that drinking by myself wasn’t great so I used social situations to feel more comfortable. I also dabbled in drugs, getting really into psychedelics as I tried to find the answers to life’s big questions. My drug use has always kind of been there but fluctuating, whereas alcohol has been my primary drug. Alcohol was always available, legal, and everywhere in Australia and overseas.

After university, I worked on and off as I went through lots of blackout benders and travelling. I was in a long-term relationship, and she tried to make it work even though I wasn’t a great partner. She even took me to my first-ever AA meeting. I was so drunk I don’t remember much, but I do remember being very uncomfortable. However, it planted a seed.

Over the years I went through periods of being dry drunk and then relapsing. I moved in and out of my parent’s home up north, gained weight and drank more. It continued like that pretty much up until I went to rehab.

In the lead-up to going to Hader Clinic Queensland, I had lost jobs, had relationships fail, and gone through periods of feeling suicidal. I’d tried going to AA a few times, but things just went from bad to worse. Eventually, I started opening up to my family more and my Mum recommended Hader Clinic Queensland and alcohol addiction treatment to me.

I called them and chatted with JJ and Jo. I didn’t go in straight away; it wasn’t until I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own that I booked in. I tried to stay dry in the lead-up to rehab but it just wasn’t really possible for me. I decided to have one last hurrah.

In the end, 60 days of alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life. When I checked in I didn’t really need detox and I didn’t want to mess around so I went straight to the rehab program.

One of the best things I took from my time in Hader was when I walked into a class that Mark was running and he was explaining the difference between being abstinent and being in recovery. It really sunk in what that difference was, and I still think about it almost on a daily basis. I realised that my sober periods before never really worked for me because just stopping drinking and taking drugs isn’t enough, I need to work on myself.

After completing 60 days of residential addiction treatment, I’m still working on myself and my recovery every day. I go to meetings every day, sometimes twice if I have the time.

I do everything that Hader Clinic Queensland taught me in the rooms. I maintain the fitness I got back during my time in rehab. I’ve got a great sponsor, and I’ve got God in my life again. I pray every day and I try to meditate as well. I’m even looking into seeing a therapist to help me resolve some past traumas that I know I need professional help with.

Another big thing I took from my time in rehab was the importance of re-establishing and maintaining loving and caring relationships in your life. Those connections are one of the most important things to me now. I have a lot of people in my life that I love, and who I’m loved by, and I’m just very grateful.

Thanks to my time in Hader Clinic Queensland’s drug addiction treatment, I’m over nine months sober, and recovery and those love-filled relationships are the biggest part of my life.

Henry’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery Story

After completing 60 days of Hader Clinic Queensland’s Residential Addiction Treatment, Henry is almost five months sober and looking to the future. This is his story.

I didn’t grow up in an environment that involved lots of drinking or taking drugs. It was around, but it wasn’t a big part of my life growing up. Then around when I was 14 I started partying and getting into alcohol and drugs. Eventually, it impacted my life to the point of needing to go to rehab, so I booked into Hader Clinic Queensland’s alcohol addiction treatment program, and now I’m almost five months sober. Even though I was taking drugs at a young age I never felt like I couldn’t stop taking them, whereas alcohol felt different.

After school I moved up north and did my apprenticeship, becoming a tradie and just working away. I was working with a lot of older blokes and was drinking a lot as it was kind of normal, part of the culture. The problem for me was that when the party finished I didn’t stop. Even before the party began I was having pre-drinks, and pre-pre-drinks, basically drinking all week in preparation for the big event on the weekend. And then continuing after the weekend had passed.

I was constantly battling with the desire to stop but with no willpower. It was always “I’ll stop tomorrow”, or “in the new year”, or “when I’m having a break from work”. In my head, I was telling myself that I would get sober, but I wasn’t. I knew I was an alcoholic, and I had tried outpatient detoxes and a wellness retreat, but there wasn’t any desire to sober up. I just wanted everyone around me to leave me alone. I thought I was fine as I was still functioning at work even though I was drinking all through the day. However, my general wellbeing was declining, and I was in a really bad place. There was a lot of unnecessary pain.

With my constant drinking came the alcohol withdrawals. That was the biggest indicator that something needed to change. My Mum also said to me that I needed to go to rehab, so I researched my options and wrote them all down. I had no desire to follow up with any of them.

Then a few months later I just called Hader up and said that I was struggling and that I needed to go to alcohol detox. I sorted some life stuff out, rang my boss and told him I was going to rehab, told my family, and then I went to complete the 28-night alcohol detox program at Hader Clinic Queensland.

I think the first week is pretty much the same for everyone, it’s a bit of a haze and you’re not sure what’s really going on. But by the second week, I was quickly realising that the 28-night program was not going to be enough. I wanted to put the work in, and I saw that there was more I needed to learn before I went back out into the real world. The world outside wasn’t going to change, I needed to change and to do that I needed all the tools I could get.

So, I booked in for a month in the rehab program, making my time in residential addiction treatment a total of 60 days. I’m grateful that I made that decision because Hader’s program gave me what I needed to stay sober for almost five months now.

The best part for me was being introduced to AA and NA, as it’s been a big part of my ongoing recovery. If I had gone to an AA meeting on my own I don’t think I would have gone back. But having it as a part of the Hader Clinic Queensland program meant that I could start to see the similarities in other people’s stories and realise that I now had a place to talk about getting sober and then staying sober.

Coming out of rehab I focused a lot on my recovery, but I did struggle at first with coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be 100% better straight away. But I remembered what I learnt in rehab, that by going back to drinking my life was going to be the same as it was, and so I put the work in that first month out.

I attended 6-7 meetings a week (mostly AA) and I did everything to the letter, with some aftercare as well. Three months later and now I can see the improvements and feel the benefits. I attend 3-4 meetings a week, and every morning I journal, do my readings and write my gratitude list.

It’s just a really good feeling after so many years of darkness to understand that so much of my bad luck and what I thought was normal was really because of my drinking. Through using the tools, I got in the Hader program and just trying to do the next right thing and stay sober, a lot of good opportunities have come to me. And it seems to be working because I am coming up to 5 months sober now and I’m feeling good.

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

Muriel’s Alcohol Addiction Treatment Journey to Recovery

Muriel’s alcohol addiction was spiralling out of control so she completed 90 days of residential addiction treatment and is now in early recovery. This is her story.

I used alcohol as a way to cope with things until my drinking started to really impact my life and I felt that I had no control over it. I sought alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, completed 90 days of alcohol detox and rehab, have been sober since and working hard at my recovery.

I experienced a lot of childhood trauma growing up that I struggled with. I would lash out and sneak out of home, and left my family home around 15. At 16, I was a victim of domestic violence and developed a habit of drinking alcohol to cope with what life was throwing at me. This habit followed me as I struggled with my marriage, my relationships with my daughters, and my work. I didn’t drink a lot when my children were young, as I was a single mother with three kids by the time I was 24.

I started socially drinking again in my 40s when my kids were a bit older. In the last few years, this compounded into a full-blown addiction. I had been experiencing a high workload with some workplace bullying and was so burnt out that as soon as I finished work for the day I would immediately scull a glass of wine to start the process of numbing myself. And it felt like it worked until I would wake up in the morning with a bad hangover and a number of calls and messages I had no recollection of making or sending that night.

Then I turned 60 and realised that my job was killing me and I didn’t want to work anymore so we bought a caravan and decided to travel. I had gone on a cruise with a friend, and she actually told me that I was getting out of control and she was really worried about me. We went away on holidays with another friend, and she also told me how I was getting really bad as I would fall over and blackout, and that if I didn’t do something about it I wouldn’t have a marriage. At the time I thought I didn’t care and wanted to drive up to Cairns and drink myself to death.

A friend of mine actually emailed Hader Clinic Queensland because she was so concerned about me. I was very mad at her at the time, but now I’m grateful because she saved my life. At that time my drinking was out of control, I was fighting all the time with my husband and the blackouts and falling had me worried that I was going to end up killing myself.

I reached out to Hader and got myself booked into the 28-day alcohol detox program. I honestly thought that I would do the 28-day detox and be fixed. I went to Hader and 12 hours into alcohol withdrawal I was having seizures so I had to be sent to hospital. I don’t really remember the first 2 weeks but I do remember that people were looking at me strangely. One of the other clients actually told me that they were wondering what I was on because I looked so unwell.

My experience of alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland was really good. I ended up doing the 90 days as I realised I needed more than 28 days. I understood pretty quickly that I needed to put the work in. The program is there to give you the tools but if you don’t put the work in you’re not going to get what you need out of it. I had a fantastic Therapeutic Community in there with me and I’m still in contact with a few of them.

The best thing about Hader was the staff. Every single one of them has been through it before, it’s not some person who has gone to university, read a book and is then relaying that to you. It’s someone who has experienced what you are experiencing and is really passionate about you succeeding. They keep you accountable and I was only ever in trouble once because I was late to class one time. I really liked the structure of the program and I enjoyed the normalcy helping with the cooking and cleaning brought back into my life while in rehab.

Since leaving Hader life has been really good. I’m going back to work in about a month, just for a few days a week, and I’m really keeping myself accountable in my recovery. I live in a country town so finding AA was difficult at first, but I’ve found some that I can do over Zoom, and there’s a town I can travel to if I would like to do it in person. I have a wonderful sponsor where we text every day and she also keeps me accountable. Every Wednesday I do the Hader meeting and I really look forward to it every week.

I’m looking forward to giving back at the Hader Clinic and sharing what I have learned with those who are just starting their recovery. I am also considering a career change and moving into support work for people with alcohol, drug, and mental health issues because I feel I can be compassionate and understanding. I’m taking my early recovery one day at a time and making my amends, but since taking the plunge into 90 days of detox and rehab at Hader Clinic, life has been really great.

 

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

Gary’s Transition to Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction

After 90 days of Hader Clinic’s residential addiction treatment and six months in the transitional housing program, Gary is 18 months clean and sober and looking to the future. This is his story.

From using alcohol to cope as a teen to an out-of-control drug addiction, it took a couple of times hitting what I thought was rock bottom until I actually did hit rock bottom, sought help and completed 90 days of detox and rehab and 6 months of the transition program.

My upbringing was pretty stable, I had a supportive home life and externally it looked like my life was pretty good. I went through some bullying at school and experienced some difficulties with my mental health in my teens. I started getting treatment for my mental health at the end of high school, which is also the time that I discovered alcohol. I thought I had found the answer as it took me away from my difficult mindset and distracted me from what was going on.

I went to university and kept drinking heavily to escape. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my room and instead drink as I was too afraid to do anything. I got my degree in Pharmacy and started working rurally. I felt like I was thriving for a couple of years there, then I went overseas for six months and was introduced to cocaine. While I was travelling I was drinking heavily and using cocaine which resulted in my mental health deteriorating rapidly.

When I came back from overseas and started working again things went downhill pretty quickly. As a pharmacist I had a bit more access than the average person to pharmaceuticals so I started using drugs more heavily. I had a bad car accident where I was prescribed strong pain medication and suffered from PTSD, so I was using pretty heavily and I thought I had hit rock bottom.

I was self-medicating and utilising my knowledge of how drugs worked to use alcohol and Valium to come down at night, and then Ritalin and stimulants to wake up and work during the day. Working in healthcare I had seen signs of addiction before, but I was in denial that I was experiencing the same issues. Eventually, the drug usage got out of control and I had a breakdown at work, causing me to lose my job and my registration.

Work was my identity; it was what I had wrapped my idea of ‘Gary’ around so to speak. When I lost that I thought I had lost everything. My mental health plummeted, and I ended up in a mental health unit before being transferred to a detox program. I detoxed and thought that I was fine, but once I got back out I was drinking and using again.

I was working as a labourer and using and drinking heavily. Because I had lost my access to drugs I was drinking far more than using and I thought it was fine because alcohol was legal and therefore it wasn’t as bad. The denial remained strong as my mentality got progressively worse and worse. My partner left me, I moved to another city and then lost my job due to flooding. I had a breakdown and overdosed which caused me to end up in more detoxes and rehabs, but I was so entrenched in denial that I didn’t want to change anything.

Mum was looking into rehabs for me and found Hader Clinic Queensland on Facebook. She called them up and told me about the program but there was no way I was going. Well, that’s what I thought at the time. I was pretty adamant but one day I felt so broken and alone emotionally that I finally hit my true rock bottom.

Out of desperation I called Hader and was booked in for the 28-day detox program. During my 28 days, it soon became apparent that a month was not going to be enough for me to have a real crack at making a positive change in my life. So I enrolled for the additional 60 days of Hader’s residential addiction treatment program, making it 90 days in total.

The best thing Hader did was introduce me to NA, which is when things really started to change for me. After 70 days in rehab, I started to look into the Transitional Housing Program as a few people had mentioned that you could keep doing what you were doing in rehab but living normally in a house at the same time.

I did six months of the Transitional Housing Program as I knew I didn’t feel ready to be let loose back into the real world. Hader’s Transition Program had the structure and accountability of the rehab, but the freedom of living normally in a house. I really started to change as a person during those 6 months. I did everything I was told to do; I ate my three meals a day, got a sponsor, got a homegroup, followed the program and ended up getting a lot out of it.

I really surrendered to the Transition Program and things just started getting better. I got a job, I found an outside psychologist and a GP who is helping me, and I started working on getting my pharmacy registration back. One of the Hader Clinic workers, Olivia, actually encouraged me to try for my registration as I had doubts that someone in my position had a shot at getting that back.

Having that support throughout the Transitional Housing Program, and the community as well around me meant that when I was struggling I could immediately reach out and have someone to talk to. And having others in the house who were going through similar experiences motivated me to stay on track as I stayed clean and sober and went through early recovery.

Since leaving the Transitional Housing Program I believe in myself and have a newfound sense of confidence. I had doubts about things, especially getting my registration back, but I stuck to my guns and was very honest with those around me. I have now got my registration back and even landed a job in the place I had always dreamed of living. Thanks to my time at Hader Clinic Queensland I am 18 months clean and sober, I have the tools to handle what life throws at me, and I have self-esteem and confidence in myself.

 

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

Scott’s Journey through Alcohol Addiction Treatment to Sponsorship

Scott is in recovery and supporting others to stay sober after completing residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

Alcohol addiction is a disease with a cycle of addiction that runs in my family. My father is 38 years sober, my brother is 6 years sober, and I was almost 11 years sober when I was diagnosed with cancer and relapsed. I was at my lowest when, with the support of my family, I went to Hader Clinic Queensland and completed 60 days of alcohol addiction treatment. I’ve been sober ever since and am helping others to do the same.

My relationship with alcohol started at a young age as I watched my father grapple with addiction and recovery. I despised alcohol, and the 12-step program, because they took my father away from me for a period of time. As a young man that negative relationship turned into aggressive blackout drinking. I was a functioning alcoholic who worked hard and played hard. Fortunately, around the time my daughter was born, I had a light-bulb moment and I got sober. I was sober for almost 11 years, helping others to work their way through addiction and even supporting my brother to sobriety when he went through Hader Clinic Queensland.

Then the perfect storm hit. I was diagnosed with cancer on a Monday and wrote my will before surgery on Thursday. I had no idea whether I was going to live or die. Instead of processing it emotionally or physically, I spent my time working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and doing radiation treatment in the morning and evening. I stopped reaching out to my sponsor, stopped sponsoring others, stopped attending meetings, and stopped doing service. I didn’t want to feel so I picked up a drink.

During my relapse, I knew at some point my ability to continue functioning and providing for my family was going to break. It all came crashing down around me as my family and employers became aware, and my wife of 30 years made the powerful decision to leave me (which I’m now very grateful and proud of her for doing).

So, I resolved to end my life. I planned out how I was going to do it, where I was going to do it, and when I was going to do it. But my higher power had another plan as on the day I was going to end my life, Rural Alive and Well attempted to contact me three times and then sent the police for a welfare check. The police took me to the hospital where I detoxed for 24 hours.

My brother recognised what was going on, and due to his pre-existing relationship with Hader Clinic Queensland, he contacted them while I was in hospital. They were absolutely first-class in their response and understanding, and within 48 hours I was booked in.

I flew up to Queensland and entered Hader Clinic with 48 hours of sobriety under my belt. The receptionist, nursing staff, GP, and Mark in particular made me feel very welcome. I had a strong pre-existing knowledge of the program, so I was able to get through the non-physical part of alcohol detox comfortably. At the end of my 28 days, I didn’t feel like it was time to leave yet so I booked in for an extra 30 days of rehab, committing to my recovery and making sure I attended every class.

The unique part about Hader Clinic Queensland is that every staff member, including some of the medical staff, are recovering alcoholics or addicts. In 1930’s Bill and Bob created the 12-step program, a program of one alcoholic/addict sharing their experience, strength, and hope to another alcoholic/addict and helping them stay clean and sober. In Hader Clinic Queensland that extends to their staff, which is a unique and positive aspect to the program.

I successfully completed the 60-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland, and I am very grateful to all the staff of the Hader program, especially those that I worked close with, Rosie, Jason, Riri and Mark who helped me through the massive highs and lows I went through. When I entered Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential treatment program I was 107 kilograms and when I left I was 88. Ever since my life has been great as I have been exercising and eating clean and fulfilling some lifelong dreams of mine.

I have an overwhelming desire to return to give-back at Hader Clinic Queensland and one day work in the field. Since leaving rehab I have completed the 12 steps and I’m working the program every day. I have a sponsor who supports me not only in my own recovery, but in coaching me to sponsor others. Because of my almost 11 years of sobriety before my relapse and my deep knowledge and working of the program.

My sponsor is comfortable with me sponsoring others and I am currently working with 8 sponsees. My goal is to continue to give away what’s been given to me and help as many people on the road to recovery as much as I possibly can. My sponsor and Gary Simpson, one of the founders of NA in Australia, are currently coaching me to achieve just that. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I get to live the rest of my life trying to do what Bill and Bob set out to do in 1930/1935 when they got sober; help others do the same.

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.

BYO

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.

Communicate

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.

Debrief

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.

Cam’s Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Journey

After 30 years in the throes of addiction, Cam is over five months sober and looking forward to a life of recovery. This is his story.

I started drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs at a young age, but things really started to take a turn and I became addicted to the prescription drug benzos before ending up in alcohol detox and residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. In rehab I learnt that alcoholism is an illness, something that my family and I didn’t understand before.

My alcohol addiction began when I was in my early teens. My school at the time had a culture of experimenting with drugs and alcohol, but something that set me apart from the others was that I couldn’t control it. Whereas others would come to a party with a six pack I would turn up with a carton and a bottle. I just wanted to get drunk as fast as I could, ended up almost dying and hospitalised in my mid-teens, and had a DUI as soon as I got my P plates at 17.

The alcohol was what I mainly stuck with through my life, the other drugs came and went but the alcohol was a constant. I got married young and had kids, so I kicked the drugs to the curb but thought it was normal to keep drinking. That manifested over the years into what is now a really strong addiction. I experienced a couple of job losses from my alcoholism, one as a direct result and the other I left before it could eventuate. In my 30s everything just started to crumble around me as my marriage broke down, my friendships were affected, and my finances started to take a hit. Up until that point I thought I was fine because I was still taking care of my kids and paying my bills, but I was really just treading water.

As a result of my drinking, I developed anxiety and depression, so I sought help from a psychiatrist. I went 30 days alcohol-free but was prescribed Valium which I started to develop an addiction to. It was a double-edged sword as I used the benzos to control my alcoholism. After my divorce, my addiction got worse and I was basically just working a lot, looking after my kids, and using drugs and drinking alcohol.

Then this year I was stood down from my job and deemed unfit for work. I saw a psychiatrist and they basically told me that there was nothing more they could do to help me because of my alcohol and drug addiction. I was told to seek residential addiction treatment, which honestly wasn’t something that I was really willing to try. But I was suicidal and just didn’t want to live anymore so I started googling rehabs and came across Hader Clinic Queensland. I thank my higher power for looking after me and guiding me that day.

At first I was really scared. I had never tried anything like rehab, and I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and panic attacks at the time so I was quite on edge. I struggled at the beginning of my time in Hader, by day four I wanted to leave. I was in alcohol withdrawal and just wanted to get out of there. The staff at Hader talked me into staying, which was definitely the right thing for me. What really helped me stay was that all the Hader support staff have had similar experiences and could relate to and understand what I was going through.

So, I completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s alcohol detox program and started my 30 days of rehab. The rehabilitation program was really structured which I liked, with the daily morning readings, the classes and the 12 step meetings which were essential. But I will admit I was still on edge, even at the beginning of the rehab program. It wasn’t until I finally fully surrendered to the program once I realised that without doing that I wasn’t going to get anything out of my time there.

Once I surrendered it was like a breath of fresh air and I began to take in everything I was being taught and it all just started to flow. I completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s 28-day detox program and the 30 day rehab program. Once I came out of Hader I had the tools and belief in myself that I could stay sober. For the first month out of rehab I did the aftercare program and counselling with Olivia, and it was super helpful to catch up with someone each week who knew my background and could walk me through transitioning back into day-to-day life. I quickly found a sponsor and a home group and am now a very grateful member of the fellowship that Hader introduced me to, which has been an absolute game-changer for me.

Life has been so much better since my time at Hader Clinic Queensland. Doors started opening up for me, I got rid of all my old resentments and made changes that feel amazing. I’m a completely different person. I still have everyday problems but now I don’t get as affected by them as I used to. I’m not that angry, frustrated person where nothing seems to go right for me like I was in active addiction. My biggest takeaway has definitely been learning that alcoholism is an illness, and I now have the tools and beliefs to manage it and live a simple suggested program of recovery. Thanks to the residential detox and rehabilitation addiction treatment programs at Hader Clinic Queensland I am over 5 months sober and every aspect of my life has changed for the better.

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

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