Alcohol Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Lori’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

At 58, Lori didn’t expect to find herself in rehab for treatment of alcohol addiction and as soon as she took action, everything changed.

Hi, my name is Lori and this is my addiction recovery story.

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of our family background of alcoholism until my early twenties. I grew up with an alcoholic father. He wasn’t what you’d describe as a “happy drunk”. He would yell and scream and pour venomous words upon me about how worthless and useless I was.

I hated the way he treated me – and at the time, I couldn’t differentiate his normal behaviour from how he behaved when he was drinking.

I had always equated being alcoholic as being homeless and sitting in a park with a paper bag. Until my sister told me, I had no idea.

I was seventeen when I first tried alcohol. I remember getting drunk on a Friday or a Saturday night occasionally, but it wasn’t until I was living with my boyfriend that I started to have more awareness around it. For example, once I was having a nice night out with my girlfriends, and my boyfriend was with his mates. He got so drunk that I locked him out of the house, because he reminded me of my Dad.

Looking back, I started my adult years with shaky foundations in regards to my self confidence and self worth.

I met my husband-to-be when I was 23, and got married at 25. I can’t even remember alcohol being a part of my life for many, many years. I may have had a drink at Christmas time, or on someone’s birthday – it really didn’t feature in my life.

There was particularly one time I remember getting drunk – this was shortly after my daughter was born and we wanted to celebrate. I recall having one drink too many, and remember putting my arm through a glass window.

After that, I didn’t drink again for several years – I would have a few drinks every now and again with one of my girlfriends, but that was it. Other than with her, it was only at special times like Christmas or birthdays.

What flipped the switch towards addiction was a big emotional upheaval. My husband walked out on me in 2010 and acquired a new girlfriend.

My girlfriend was a big drinker and loved a party. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with her.

She invited me to Hamilton Island with her and her children. It was an unusual situation to be in to say the least. She was still a big drinker and I would go out and drink with her.

However, once I was away from her, any desire to drink at all disappeared.

While I was still on Hamilton Island, I met my now ex-boyfriend. He was a daily drinker.

When he moved in, there’d always be a drink at home waiting for me. And this is where it all started in 2011.

I remember coming home from Hamilton Island, and when we talked, we’d have drinks in hand. He drank every day.

In this environment, alcohol consumption started to become a bit of habit. It really crept up on me quite insidiously. I’d come home after work, have a few drinks, cooked dinner etc etc.

After two years, the boyfriend decided that things weren’t working out. I was going through my divorce at that stage and I think that he was sick of my ex husband taking front and centre during this time.

He packed his bags and moved to Queensland.

I decided to follow him. I uprooted my life, basically, and moved away from my family to a location where I knew nobody. Little did I know that I was inadvertently creating the ‘perfect storm’ for addiction to take hold – I was unintentionally isolating myself from loved ones.

Then, the relationship did not work out the way I wanted it to. I was also unwell and on opiates for a couple of years to treat pain. I was depressed and miserable.

When I was taken off the opiates, that was it, my drinking took over.

I was lonely, I had no purpose in my life.

I found rehab through my psychologist at 58 years old. I’d never lived in a share house (as I’m doing now in the Transition Housing Program). I’d always lived either alone or with my family.

Rehab made me realise that I was lonely. At rehab, I was surrounded by other people and it helped improve my mood. I’d tried a couple of detoxes in hospital and I’d do well – but as soon as you put me back in the real world, it would be a different story! Residential rehab provided the connection that I needed.

It was a good experience. I thought that I was doing OK during the first four to five weeks when something happened I wasn’t expecting.

The staff told me quite bluntly that I wasn’t willing to work the program.

Those words felt like a smack in the teeth. “Yes, I am!” I thought. “I’m doing everything you ask!”

However, it made me stop and take a look at myself – and it was at that point, I realised the staff were right. I wasn’t willing. In the whole recovery process I’d been going through the motions and “doing the right thing” but I wasn’t being an active participant – I wasn’t taking action.

From that point on, things changed as I decided to change.

Upon reflection, I acknowledged that I’d been to therapy for many years – but once it got too hard, I’d just run the other way. I thought I was willing to find an answer, because I kept going back to the doctor and saying “what can we do?”

I’d listen to them, I’d attend therapy every week but in between these times nothing changed. I had the perception that showing up for my appointments was enough to get me well. Of course, this wasn’t true. Therefore, the seed was planted that although I said everything right, and read self help books, I wasn’t really willing to take action.

The intent was there, but there was no follow through. I wanted a solution, I really did, but there was no action. I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is really important.

As soon as I took action, everything changed. My attitude changed.

Now, I see that I viewed life negatively over the years. I never saw the positives in myself, because my Dad was always drumming into me how awful I was.

I was fearful. I would sabotage any opportunities I had because that’s the only thing I knew. Because I was scared, I never gave anything a go.

Life is exciting now, and full of possibility. I have to keep learning that it’s about what I want now, because I’ve spent my whole life believing that I’m not worthy of much.

I am really thankful that I went to The Hader Clinic Queensland. When I did the private detoxes, I just returned to the life I had. I had that “inaction” attitude as well – I’d front up every week and listen, but I wouldn’t do the homework because I’d say, “I don’t know how to do it,” or, “I can’t do it”. I had hoped fronting up for 26 weeks of outpatient therapy would somehow magically change me because I’d turned up.

I’m now undertaking a Transition Housing program. It’s based around being a therapeutic community – everyone wants recovery and we can support each other. Being in the group gave me more confidence. I felt like I had a cheer squad. People with in the group told me that I needed to be more confident. It was good to experience this with people who weren’t my immediate family. That meant a lot to me – that other people who weren’t family wanted to support me for myself. I felt that everyone was there just as much for me as they were for themselves.

I’m doing meetings twice a day – for the first week I was pretty tired doing face to face meetings, so now I’m doing one face to face meeting and one online meeting which is giving me a better balance. I have also found a great sponsor, who is wonderful. She gives me half an hour of her day, five days a week. We talk at 6:30am each morning, and although it’s early, it starts my day in the best possible way.

I don’t mind living in a share house either. It’s just an experience I would have never otherwise had in my life. It feels right, I guess.

Life is on the up and up. It’s great to now see the glass half full instead of half empty. I will have some decisions to make about whether I move closer to home to be with my family, but for the next month or so, I’m focusing on completing the Transitional Housing Program, one day at a time.

I am appreciative towards the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland. That so many have lived experience of addiction themselves, gives extra meaningfulness to any tips they give you.

Thank you to the Hader Clinic Queensland for opening my eyes to this brand new life.

Antonio’s Addiction Recovery

April 6 2018, is a day etched in Antonio’s mind. It’s his first clean day. Now 1000 days following treatment for alcohol addiction Antonio shares his recovery story.

My name’s Antonio. I’ve just turned 39, and never thought I’d be in a rehab clinic at the age of 36.

My substances of abuse were dope and booze. Oh, yes, I did dabble in the party drug scene, but they didn’t do it for me like alcohol and weed did.

I entered into the 90 day residential rehab program at The Hader Clinic Queensland and after my program, had to go straight back at work as it was an insanely busy time of year.

Life outside of rehab has been tough. I was ready to give up my addiction, but learning to live with a new normal and get back into life has been quite challenging.

Using dope and alcohol ended up being a way of surviving for me.

You see, I’d grown up with high levels of anxiety, irritability, anger and discontentment – I had thought this was all pretty normal, how everyone goes through life. However, when I received treatment, I began to understand that I was suffering from some mental health issues.

It wasn’t something that anyone talked about when I was a kid, I just accepted it.

I had always dabbled in dope, and didn’t actually drink that much initially. The whole way through my addiction, I funded my habit – and grew my own weed.

What really set me off was cheating on my wife and having an affair.

At this stage I had started to take medication for anxiety and I was combining this with drinking – I would end up in a semi euphoric state where I wouldn’t know or care what I was doing. I had little thought about the consequences.

Once I added dope into the mix, I’d be off my face and into oblivion.

During this time, a girl came onto the scene who showed interest in me. I was flattered.  It felt good, so I went with it.

Eventually it came to an end and my drinking became an even bigger issue.

One Thursday evening, I was drunk and out of my tree. My wife ended up giving me an ultimatum – do something about my addiction or she would leave. She was sick of it.

Meanwhile, I was a blubbering, incoherent mess.

I ended up staying at my sister’s place overnight and they got me into The Hader Clinic Queensland – I arrived on the doorstep on Monday morning.

Rehab, initially, was a complete shock for me. When I entered, I had three clean days under my belt. However, I was anxious being away from my kids, plus I couldn’t call them for the first week. I was also trying to manage my anxiety medication.

That first week was terrible. I spent a lot of time, sitting alone, crying, feeling a sense of shame that rehab was where I had ended up at 36.

However, I did get through that week, and things started to look up.

I was able to call the kids.

I saw my wife and family during week two.

I had a long chat to my wife who told me that I needed to take the time to really work on myself and not to worry about them.

I could see that I had a decision to make – either sink back into my shell and continue to live the same tortured life, or to believe in the program, listen to others and give things a good go. I’m glad I chose the latter.

During my time at the Clinic I kept busy, I started an exercise program and I started praying.

I’m still praying.

I was at the stage of my addiction where I had no choice but to surrender to, and believe in the program.

I still go to meetings. Initially, I went to two a week but usually it’s one a week unless work gets in the way. I enjoy sharing my story with others and I enjoy hearing about how others are progressing.

What keeps me clean is that I’m not depressed anymore. Using weed all the time got me into a state of deep depression.

I also realised that I was using to try and help myself sleep. The psychiatrist, Andy, was an invaluable help here. Thanks to him I have found the perfect balance of medication that address anxiety and help me sleep.

After I came out of rehab, many of my friends fell by the wayside. People who I’d considered best mates (and who I’d used with) didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Perhaps they understand it’s because I no longer use. That’s OK.

Every now and again I miss having a beer on a Friday arvo. However, I don’t miss that horrible feeling of being unable to stop myself and then wanting to layer a cone on top of that as well.

I still feel that pain.

However, l understand that the only way to manage my mental health is to stay clean. It’s a promise I made to myself while I was in rehab. I don’t want to use.

I also don’t want my addiction experience defining me as a person. It’s just one part of my life, but it’s not the whole story.

The relationship with my wife and kids, 11 and 8, has improved dramatically. We’ve worked through a lot and weathered some storms, but my wife has trust in me now. That’s important to me.

If I had any advice on staying clean in the long term, it’s to keep “plugging away” at it. One day at a time is really how I manage it.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have attended rehab and am looking forward to the future.

Max’s Addiction – His Mother’s Story

Juliette is a drug and alcohol nurse. She never saw her son’s addiction coming, but when Max turned up on her doorstop begging for help, it was the catalyst to start his recovery from addiction.

My name is Juliette, and I work in a hospital as a drug and alcohol nurse.

However, first and foremost, I am a mother.

I’m a mother to a drug addict, and my reaction to this was as a mother first, rather than as a health professional.

My son, Max, has been battling addiction for the better part of thirteen years.

I didn’t see it coming, but once I knew, I recognised where he was heading.

Max is now thirty, and his journey started at the age of seventeen, after he left high school.

Like many young men, he started drinking – and this was to lead him down the path to harder drugs and an addiction to gambling. At the time of his admission, he was gambling, using alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.

All the time Max was abusing drugs and alcohol, he maintained a job in the hospitality industry. What made things worse is that all of his mates were doing the same thing. In hospitality, alcohol is available open slather. He’d be serving drinks and consuming them simultaneously.

Can I say that Max hid his addiction well? He moved out of home early on, but every time I’d see him, he’d look… tired . I never imagined for one minute that he’d be seriously hungover. He had always been a talented actor, and he executed the role of denial perfectly.

I don’t know how I would have sent Max into rehab if Covid-19 hadn’t hit. I had always found confronting him to be a slippery affair. I used to wonder how I could force him to go to rehab when he’d always duck and weave if I ever broached the subject. He lived his life in such a way that ensured that he was never hanging around with his family much.

Instead, he was hanging out with mates who were only too happy to enable his addiction.

Back to Covid – I’m grateful that it happened because it meant the hospitality industry had to shut down. Max lost his job. It sounds awful, but what a blessing it was for us.

As the Covid-19 crisis escalated, and without a job or money, Max began his descent towards rock bottom.

One evening he literally landed on our doorstep, begging us for help.

Immediately I went into “alcohol and drug nurse mode”.

I told him, “tonight I am accepting you back under my roof as my son, however, tomorrow, I am going to be your facilitator in your journey of rehabilitation and recovery.”

He was in a weakened mental state and to my surprise, I didn’t have to force him to got to rehab. He was ready and willing.

That’s the difference. You have to be at a stage of your addiction where you want to get better. We were lucky in that regard. Covid-19 had forced Max’s hand.

He completed Hader Clinic Queensland’s 90 day program. There were times when I thought that he wasn’t going to last the distance but he did. It was a wonderful relief to know that he was safe and sound at the rehab, and not out and about using.

Max has been out from the program for four weeks. He is living at home with us, and is doing well.

He is hoping to go to university and study – and is currently looking at his options. Although he is wildly creative, the film and TV courses he’s done probably won’t get him a job. That’s what I call a “fantasyland” course!

We are proud that Max has remained sober. To support him, we stopped drinking ourselves. We would only drink once a week, on a Friday evening, but decided to quit.

I have absolutely no insight into how Max fell prey to the disease of addiction from a family point of view. Max grew up in a happy, loving, shall we say, boringly normal family. He was one of those kids who was universally loved in his school classes growing up and was always big on acting/drama.

We really started worrying about Max when he was nineteen. He was working for an insurance company, and wasn’t happy. He was spending every lunch hour at the TAB or playing the pokies.

The psychiatrist at Hader Clinic Queensland reckons that Max wasn’t happy at that time and that gambling game him that hit of dopamine that he was constantly craving. (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is associated with generation of feelings of pleasure within our brain). Although I did not realise Max was unhappy, this all makes sense to me.

We discovered that what was pushing Max further into his addiction was a sense of never feeling quite good enough, despite being adept at being an outgoing “showman”.

We participated in the Hader Clinic Queensland family nights. I cannot thank them enough for this part of the program. Through participation in these events, we could clearly see where we had been going wrong. My husband was a great enabler, always giving him money, and not letting him owe anyone anything.

Meanwhile, I was torn between being a mother and an alcohol and drug nurse. The mother in me won out of course.

If I had any advice to give to another parent struggling with the same issue? Goodness me, I have no advice… I seriously don’t know… wait….

YES, I DO!

Seek professional help. If you believe there is a problem, pick up the phone and do not hesitate to call The Hader Clinic Queensland.

It takes a village to raise a child and it also takes a village to help heal an addict!

The Hader Clinic Queensland were fantastic in this regard – every step of the way had a staff member willing and able to support us, which has helped us as much as it’s helped Max.

Thank you, Hader Clinic Queensland.

From Carnage to Recovery

Drugs initially gave Daniel peace, but his addiction soon led him down a road of carnage. Following residential addiction treatment he reflects on his ongoing recovery.

Many people believe that music and drugs go hand in hand. I’m pretty sure someone has told me along the way that Mozart was addicted to heroin. That doesn’t surprise me as both drugs and music have the power to change the way you feel, only one (music) is good for you. And the other just leads you down a road of carnage.

I’m a musician who has been producing rap music since 2011. The whole time I created music, I used.

I’m still newly recovering – as of today I’m fifty seven days’ clean. As there are many associations with drugs in doing my music, I haven’t gone back there yet. I don’t want to be triggered into a situation where I may relapse. Recovery is the most important part of my life right now.

My using started when I was eleven or twelve. I’m now thirty six. I had a great upbringing, two parents who loved both my brother and myself. My Mum worked for the XXXX brewery and I started my using lifestyle by pinching beers from the fridge at home. At thirteen I started smoking weed and would spend most weekends with my mates partying hard, getting drunk, getting stoned, or both.

Despite the drug use, I managed to graduate year twelve.

After school, the dabbling in drugs continued – as well as pot and alcohol, there were eccies (ecstasy) and speed added into the mix. At nineteen I smoked meth. I was doing a carpentry apprenticeship. I did the whole thing high on drugs.

Drugs initially gave me peace, silencing the committee in my head that saw me continually comparing myself with my brother. We had the same parents, same upbringing, yet my brother was so different from me – he ended up becoming an accountant. He can have one drink and put the cap on the bottle, whereas I’ll continue until I’m paralytic.

So… I did meth from 19 to 36 and had a son in the meantime, at 23. Things really started ramping up when I was around 28, in 2012. I was doing heaps of music and spending most of the time high.

I dropped the ball at work.

I did not pay rent.

I lost my home.

I slept on mates’ couches.

It was awful.

I decided to give up drugs cold turkey.

It didn’t work.

I moved in with a mate who was selling gear. Weirdly, at the time, I felt peace being there, even though the place was hectic with people coming and going at all hours.

I remember sitting on the couch with three pregnant girls, smoking pot.

This was all very normal to me.

I recorded my first demo mixtape in that house.

Eventually I moved out.

Lived on a couch.

Met a friend who said I could stay at her place for three weeks.

I stayed for three years.

Life was not manageable, so I went to rehab in 2015. It wasn’t a twelve-step program. I remember that a mate hung himself while I was in there. I thought, “this is it, time to be clean”.

After eight weeks of rehab, I got a job as a chippie and things seemed to be going well, until I caught a contractor smoking meth in a downstairs basement. He asked me if I wanted some.

Naturally, I relapsed.

I managed to hang on to my job and the union got me into rehab in Sydney where I learned about Narcotics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. Recovery was going well, and I felt connected to the NA community there. Plus, Sydney was a new town to me, so it created another barrier to using.

However, I had to come back to Brisbane, and without the right support around me, I relapsed again.

Thirteen months ago, I met my partner. We were both in active addiction. One of my wiser mates told me, “it’s going to get to the point where you choose each other, or you choose the drugs”.

I decided to withdraw my super on compassionate medical grounds and do rehab at The Hader Clinic Queensland. I did the thirty day program, and during that time, I surrendered to recovery. My initial impressions were that I could see where the value was, given I had paid privately. It was good to get away from the environment where I used and become involved with NA again. I have a sponsor, and I attend two meetings a day.

All of the staff had a big impact on me, especially Mark, Fran and JJ. In fact JJ and I have the same sponsor. It was great to be able to go to a meeting and see the staff there – not because they were taking us to a meeting, but rather, they were there for themselves and still focused on their recovery. It makes me realise that you don’t go to rehab and become “cured”, you’re always working on various aspects of your recovery.

I want to get back into making my music, but slowly, slowly. I want to do it in a way that doesn’t trigger wanting to use.

I’ve now been a chippie for the past fifteen years or so. I don’t want to go back to the drinking and drug culture that underlies construction either. However, I do want to give back to the area where I came from.

I have joined Mates in Construction and have put my name down to get involved in the Connector program – meaning you’re the port of call for someone in your industry that may be doing it tough. Then I’m going to do the week long “Assist” course.

It’s about me learning to do things a different way. I’m still pretty new to being clean. However, one thing I do know is that I want recovery more than anything else. And that I have support. I’m looking forward to visiting the Hader Clinic Queensland tomorrow for a check in.

If you’re serious about getting clean, get support. The Hader Clinic Queensland were brilliant and I’m looking forward to notching more time up in recovery.

There’s Always Hope If You Want Recovery

Jeff hit rock bottom before undertaking the residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program and transitional housing program. He’s now two years clean.

Hi there – my name’s Jeff (changed name) – I’m a bit over two years’ clean. I went to rehab in November 2018 and also completed the transition housing program at the Hader Clinic Queensland. Like many addicts, I was addicted to more than one substance – in my case it was methamphetamines and alcohol being the two “majors”.

In terms of my upbringing, I had a pretty normal childhood, my family stayed together for it – I had both parents, so nothing too abstract there. I started using pot and alcohol in early high school with my schoolmates. It was more of a party thing, and what the group did to fit in. It was just what we did every now and again on weekends. It never really became any problem for my until I turned eighteen. I could now legally purchase alcohol and I started doing this quite often.

When I used at that age, I always drugged or drank to the point of passing out, there was no middle ground. I guess that was the difference between myself and the people I was hanging out with. That continued all throughout my late teens and early 20s. I got into a relationship that fell apart after a couple of years. We bought a house together and during that time my drinking and drugging just took over like wildfire. My partner could not handle this, which is fair enough too, and decided to leave.

After those events, I just started to use heavily, all day and every day. It was both heavy alcohol and drug use. By that stage I had started using meth – once every couple of weeks. Then it turned into once a week, then Thursday to Sunday, then eventually every day. I was just 22. Life at that stage was pretty sad. The first thing I’d do when I woke up was to have a drink and use. I isolated in my house all day, I had little contact with others. I drove whatever friends I still had away, and started hanging out with other users and dealers.

My family were aware that I was drinking heavily, but it wasn’t until things started getting really bad, including losing half my body weight, that they realised that I was using more than just alcohol. Along with losing weight over six to eight months of heavy meth use, I also started getting into trouble with the law. I had stopped going to work long before that. I worked in real estate and one day I simply didn’t show up. I turned to crime to support my habit – I accrued some drug related and violence related charges in that time.

I guess when I was about 23 or so, I was given the choice by the court to either go to jail, or go to rehab. I chose to go to The Hader Clinic Queensland.

I’ve actually been there twice. The first time, I got kicked out after sixty days for using. At that stage, I didn’t want to get clean. I just didn’t want to go to jail.

I got opted out for thirty days and did not return to The Hader Clinic Queensland for a year. When I got out, I started using again – just as heavy as before, for an entire year. It was almost as if I was rebelling.

After doing another year of heavy using, every aspect of my life got worse. The isolation became more pronounced, plus my habit was expensive. At my worst, I was using $1500 worth of drugs per day. It was unhealthy and unsustainable – and yes, I started getting into trouble with the wrong types of people and the law.

I think I got to the stage where I had an epiphany one evening and thought, “I can’t do this anymore”.

The funny thing with the first stint at rehab was that I believed that I used more afterwards because deep down, I now knew that there was a better way. I just wasn’t ready. Sure, using was fun for those first few days after rehab, but then it quickly turned into that hideous addictive cycle. It was no fun, in fact it felt soul destroying.

That’s when I decided that I had enough. I contacted my mother, who travelled up to my place at Airlie Beach. She helped me pack up my house and got me off to rehab. I had been planning to stay with Mum to try and get clean, but she insisted that I go to rehab.

However, before I entered rehab again, I got picked up by the police. I had an outstanding warrant for my arrest, so I got locked up on the Sunshine Coast for a week or so and then sent to rehab. Second time around was a completely different experience. When I arrived, I had no clothes and no shoes. It literally was the rock bottom for me.

I wanted recovery. I wanted to be there – which made all the difference in my experience.

I also did the Transition Housing program. I wanted the opportunity to do everything I could to promote my sobriety, any extras. It was a good opportunity and time for me to work on myself.

And here I am, two years’ clean!

The first three months in the transition house, was about learning to get back to doing things on my own. For example, waking up every day with a routine – go for a run, have breakfast, put a load of washing on. That sort of thing. I hadn’t done this for years.

The biggest key message I have to share is that you have to be real with yourself. You have to want recovery. That’s why rehab “didn’t work” first time around for me – I was continually lying to myself. I wasn’t being honest with myself about where I was at.

I think that’s what has kept me clean, continually evaluating where I’m at and what I’m feeling.

I still have a sponsor who attends NA frequently, but I don’t participate as much these days. I did a meeting once a day in rehab and twice a day in the transition house and I really didn’t do any more after that. However, I do stay in touch with my sponsor a couple of times a week, and that has worked well for me. I’ve been working with him for the last two years.

Now, I’m at university and studying computer science and mathematics, which I am loving.

One thing that I did do differently after I left rehab was that I deleted all my social media accounts and my old contacts, except for my family. Anyone that I had an association with in using drugs… well, I don’t speak to them anymore. I also got a new phone number.

I moved towns. I moved nearly 1000km south. I’m from Airlie Beach originally and it wasn’t until I had done a year clean that I went back for a visit. I enjoy fishing and boating – however, I don’t think I could have done it any earlier. It’s a small town and you run into people. I just didn’t want to have exposure to anyone from my past.

Although I don’t have cravings for drugs anymore, the hardest part of staying clean was when my mother passed away – I had been eight months’ clean at that stage, and I was devastated. That has probably been the only time that I have been intensely triggered to use. After I got through that, nothing has really come close to those feelings. I am grateful that she had been there to see me get clean and to help me – I will always have these wonderful memories.

There’s always hope if you want recovery.

Now that I’ve been clean for so long, I’ve been able to get back to doing activities that I love. For example, I love music, concerts and going to gigs and stuff. People are always drunk at these types of events. However, I can handle myself in these situations now with no problem. One reason I stopped going to meetings was that people used to tell me that it was impossible to attend these types of events in recovery. While I appreciate that it may be the case for some people, I just didn’t agree with it. Again, you have to be honest with yourself about your why. I go because I’m motivated by my love, and enjoyment of the music. I have come to realise that by not drinking that I can immerse myself fully in the music and the moment.

I own my past. I disclose it when I think it’s important.

Since I became clean, I have made two new friends. I’m dating a lovely young lady – my first foray into a relationship post rehab. I think I told her upfront on one of our first dates why I don’t drink and the reasons why. I have also made another friend at uni – I wasn’t completely honest with him straightaway. However, after a couple of weeks, we went out for a game of pool, he asked me if I’d like a drink. Again, I told him that I didn’t drink and the reasons why. I made it quite clear to them that they didn’t have to feel anxious having a drink around me – that I wasn’t going to be triggered into using. I’ve come to a deep sense of peace that drinking is something I can’t do anymore – and have no desire for either. I’m at the point where I can go out with friends, they can have a drink, and I’ll quite happily sip on a Coke.

Life is good. I am appreciative of my time at the Hader Clinic Queensland and the tools I learned to help me stay clean.

A Letter from Racquel

This is a letter from Racquel, who undertook our residential addiction treatment program for her addiction to alcohol. She has kindly allowed us to share it.

To my dear (Hader) family, (staff and clients that I know),

I am typing this letter as, sadly, not many people can read my handwriting.

I first want to say an overwhelming thank you to the staff for your guidance, shared experiences and knowledge, as a group and individually. My time at Hader Clinic Queensland was well overdue, but I expect came just at the right time!

As you know through my sharing time and life story, my life was on a crash and burn spiral where I felt as if there would be no tomorrow – as I felt as though there was nothing in the future to look forward to.

This all started to change the day after I arrived at the rehab when I read the book “What is an addict?”.  I realised (stuff a duck),  I did have a problem!

Even on the day I arrived, I was still not convinced that my situation was critical, but I did know I had to do something soon, otherwise I would lose my daughter’s respect, my health, my sense of self-worth (which was dwindling fast) and would become so critical of my husband as he was always interstate with work.

I felt dislike creeping in, which was a horrid feeling.

Not only did being at Hader Clinic Queensland give me a sense of fellowship, but I felt as if I belonged and that I wasn’t alone. That may sound a bit sad to some, but it was where I was supposed to be, the only place I should have been at that time.

I learned things that I had unlearned. I gained a respect for those around me through their experiences, their suffering, their growth and recognition of their personal dilemma which in some cases almost came as a lightning bolt.

To this day I have not had a drink (495 days) and I have no inkling to do so. I have made contact with my fellowship and speak to their rep, but I have not visited. Step by step, I am very aware they are near, and he has reached out and made himself available when and if I need him.

When I got home, I was surprised at all the work my husband had done around the farm, things that had to be done but due to my health, got left.

He had also stopped drinking, lost eight kgs (he has lost a further four up to now), started to eat properly, is no longer pre-diabetic due to abstinence of alcohol, and his attitude has also changed for the better: much more considerate as he now knows that I had a problem.

There are many things I have put into practise that I planned to do when I got home and they were specifically for me, to get MY life back.

  • I now have two cars in my name. I bought myself a car and we have bought a new ute for the farm and it is in my name.
  • It has taken a while but I’m seeing more of my daughter and she has taken control of her illness.
  • My physical fitness while at Hader Clinic Queensland improved immensely and I regained my confidence to go the extra mile to get fit. When I got back I was walking every day, until my last surgery, but I will soon be on track again.
  • I now speak up if I’m not happy with a situation.
  • I have steered away from friends who are negative or not just not good for me.
  • I have put my name down for volunteer work at the age care facility my parents went to with the intention of helping the residents write their own life story, not only for them but for their family.
  • The Covid-19 situation is lingering but because of where we live in Victoria, our restrictions are at level three and we have a lot more freedom which I guess helps a lot with any mental health issues.
  • I have finally got around to updating my DVA and medical appointments, which were well overdue.
  • And I have started reading again which has become one of my greatest joys.

So, this note is to say thank you with all my heart and I hope you all continue to do such amazing work for people like me.

THANK YOU!

With great respect,
Racquel

Factors for Relapse

When thinking of addiction treatment for your loved one, the possibility that they could relapse is something you probably don’t wish to think about.

However, relapse after treatment can occur but the experience can teach addiction sufferers life-long lessons that can assist them staying clean in the long term, particularly with regards to understanding their addiction and why there is no place in a sober life for drugs or alcohol.

There are mitigating factors that may precede a relapse. Often, they can be addressed before a relapse occurs.

Some of these factors are:

Motivational level and understanding of addiction by a sufferer

Many clients who enter rehabilitation for the first time do not have an awareness of how the disease operates.

Many Hader Clinic Queensland success stories report that their initial impression of rehab was to “dry out over a few weeks” and then return to society.

For example, program graduate, Mac, says that he had “no clue” about addiction upon arrival to residential rehab for treatment.

He says, “I thought that I would go in there for ninety days, come out, and be able to drink like a ‘normal person’.

All I thought at the time was that “I drank too much”.

Now that I’ve completed the program, been in the transition house, and am in the Fellowship plus working on the “12 Steps”, that I have realised alcoholism is a disease and that I’m never going to be able to drink again.”

Understanding that addiction strengthens neural pathways the more someone uses is important.

In the early days of recovery, discipline is required to “break” those pathways using alternative positive behaviours, such as mindful exercise and journaling.

Therefore, until alternative neural pathways become further embedded in everyday behaviours, the risk is there for relapse.

Exposure to a toxic environment

Environmental factors can also drive a relapse in a susceptible individual. The addiction sufferer must realise that they need to permanently suspend communication with others that enabled their previous addictive lifestyle.

Attending AA/NA meetings and finding a new circle of friends that support recovery is vital. When a sufferer becomes disconnected from their support network, the door to relapse may be opened.

Hader Clinic Queensland Program Manager, Jay says, “addiction thrives on isolation. The opposite of addiction is connection. This support and connection is something we strongly promote.”

Sometimes, an addiction sufferer will move back into a family environment that enables using. Sometimes this will mean that in order to stay clean and sober, a sufferer may have to make difficult decisions around their family.

For example, Joe’s father offered him a beer the day he got home from rehab. Immediately Joe knew that if he was to stay clean that he needed to move away from his family.

“I moved interstate. It’s been hard. I’m looking for work. I’m attending two AA meetings a day. You never get treated like rubbish at an AA meeting”.

Failures in long term planning and management of addiction

Many people believe that once an addiction sufferer has been through a residential program, that they have been fully “cured” and are ready to go back to work, study or parenting. However, this is far from the truth.

Reintegrating into society managing potential hazards and triggers requires thought, planning, plus continual monitoring and evaluation of the sufferer to ensure they are receiving support that is individualised and optimised towards ongoing recovery.

The Hader Clinic Queensland addresses longer term recovery through the Transition Housing Program, as well as the HaderCare aftercare app, which allows a client to connect with Hader Clinic Queensland staff to receive ongoing support.

What are some warning signs of relapse?

The most obvious sign is that a sufferer begins to disconnect with the therapeutic community. They may become distant, distracted and engage in self destructive actions. If they suffer from a mental health dual diagnosis, a relapse of another mental health condition may occur, for example, an eating disorder may flare up.

If a relapse is occurring, a sufferer’s loved ones should work at holding them accountable and ensuring that their addiction is not fuelled by enabling behaviours.

While a relapse isn’t ideal, it can serve as a valuable lesson. It should also be reinforced that addiction is a disease and like all other diseases, should be treated with professionalism, empathy and compassion.

Many sufferers feel a sense of shame if a relapse occurs.

It is vitally important to highlight that a relapse may be part of the journey but isn’t necessarily the full story. The sufferer should be encouraged to move past any feelings of shame or guilt and back into treatment.

The Hader Clinic Queensland can provide help in this way.

Mac’s Addiction – His Mother’s Story

Discovering that her son was an alcoholic came a complete shock to Mac’s mother, who had no knowledge of his excessive drinking.

Hi, I’m Mac’s mum, and this is my story about my son’s alcohol addiction.

Mac had a good childhood.

His father was a police officer and we were happily married for forty-two years.

We had a stable home, and a loving family environment, so sometimes it’s puzzling how this illness of addiction happened to Mac.

I first became aware that Mac was drinking when he went into the army.

However, because he wasn’t at home, we weren’t witness to any alcoholic behaviours.

Because he travelled so much for work, we really only saw him periodically, even staying with him at his home.

During these times we weren’t really privy to any odd behaviour – Mac always seemed like he was OK.

I remember visiting four or five years ago, I’m not certain of the exact timeline and he was living with a girl, she had a drinking problem.

The family situation there was a bit volatile – he didn’t have children and she did.

There were often times where he said that for various reasons that he didn’t want to go home.

Was that when he started drinking more? I really don’t know, can’t answer that question.

When I stayed with him for a few days during that time, he was working.

He’d get up in the morning and head to work and come home as normal people do in the evenings. I’d see him consume three or four beers, nothing I considered unusual.

Three years ago, I recall him being with a partner who was drinking heavily and started becoming aware over the last twelve months that things weren’t “quite right” with Mac. He would say things to me like, “I can’t take it anymore! But don’t worry, I won’t do anything silly!”

This did ring a few alarm bells, but not wanting to be interfering and controlling, I just let it go.

I wanted Mac to feel he called always talk to me.

Towards the end of last year, I was aware that he’d gone to court and lost his driver’s license.

It was at that point my awareness grew into a knowing that something was very wrong.

Shortly after, he told me that he was going to rehab and I helped him with his “life admin”, looking after things while he was in rehab like his phone bill and car registration etc.

Since joining the Hader Clinic Queensland addiction treatment program Mac has opened up and told me a lot of other stories about his drinking habits – which go back way further than this.

When he tells me some of the things that happened to him with his drinking in the past, I realise that he was lying to me back then – but I always believed him (he was always a very honest kid).

Last year he’d say that he’d “had one beer” and I thought nothing of it. I didn’t realise that “one beer” was actually “one carton”.

Not knowing a great deal about addiction, I didn’t know that people lied to cover up their addiction, that when he said after losing a job, that he “couldn’t come home”, that he was ashamed and didn’t want me to see him like that.

The way Mac speaks to me now indicates to me that he has no intention of going back to his previous life.

I keep reminding him and encouraging him that he’s been given this wonderful opportunity to turn his life around by the RSL and the Hader Clinic Queensland. I think he was in a pretty bad way before he was admitted.

I know that Mac wants to help others who are in a similar situation to what he was.

No more truck driving.

I’m really happy to see that he has some opportunities with the RSL.

But most of all, I’m happy and very thankful that he’s in recovery – Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland- and that each clean day is a win.

COVID-19 is Driving People to Drink

Going in or out of COVID-19 – no matter which way, stress is driving people to drink.

It would seem that COVID-19 virus has its tentacles wrapped around every aspect of your life as you know it.

While we know that stress can precipitate increased levels of drug and alcohol use, what is concerning about this pandemic that new stressors are emerging.

Firstly, there’s the changing of our most innate social behaviours, such as hugging, shaking hands and sharing a meal with friends, to prevent the spread of the virus that’s having an impact.

There’s dealing with the new normal of “social distancing” and being isolated from family and friends.

There’s the economic uncertainty, including dealing with being stood down from work, unemployment, applying for benefits that is having an impact.

There’s mounting financial pressure. In a COVID-19 affected world, peoples’ ability to pay their bills is diminishing. Some people have lost their livelihoods. Others have lost a roof over their heads.

For some, home schooling children and trying to work from home has become an enormous stressor.

Even adapting to a change of routine and being unable to access pleasurable activities, such as going to the gym is stressful

It would seem like stress is building up in the world like a pressure cooking and in an effort to let off steam, another potential public health crisis is brewing.

Alcohol misuse has been on the rise over the COVID-19 pandemic as individuals drink as a means of coping with these new stressors.

Often this is driven by feelings of powerlessness to change the current circumstances – often it’s easier, as some addicts report, to drink forget about those feelings.

The Lancet states:

“Stress is a prominent risk factor for the onset and maintenance of alcohol misuse”.

It’s been proven time and time again that alcohol use rises after experiencing traumatic events. For example, alcohol consumption rose after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Chronic alcohol use results in changes to neural tissues and reward pathways within the brain. Chronic alcohol use further causes impairment of emotional regulation, which can lead the user to escalate their drinking to achieve the same affect in changing their mood.

Although no human trials have been performed (due to ethical concerns), animal studies have demonstrated negative effects, including a heightened reaction to stress and neural pathway (brain) responses. It could be inferred that social isolation could be a trigger for increased alcohol usage.

Additionally, a risk factor for alcohol misuse and dependency disorders, that is a heightened inclination towards impulsive and risk taking behaviours by individuals, may be elicited during times of high stress. This has been reflected in reports of spiking alcohol use, relapse and other risky behaviours.

If you are finding that your alcohol use has been escalating over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic period and you’re feeling out of control and unable to stop, the first step towards finding a solution is viewing your situation with self-compassion and asking for help.

We are living in an unusually stressful time and you, or your loved ones are worthy of care. The Hader Clinic Queensland provides specialist care for the treatment of alcohol dependency and can confidentially help you find a road back towards sobriety and happiness.

Sources:

Clay J, Parker M. Alcohol use and misuse during the COVID-19 pandemic: a potential public health crisis? April 2020. The Lancet Public Health.

 Nanz-Barr et al. Effect of Social Isolation on stress related behavioural and neuroendocrine state in the rat. 2004 (152) Behavioural Brain Research

de Goejj M, Suhrcke M, et al. How economic crises affect alcohol consumption and alcohol-related health problems: A realist systematic review. Social science & medicine. 2015;131:131-46.

Living with an Addict During COVID-19 Lockdown

Living with someone suffering from addiction can be challenging at the best of times but the current COVID-19 lockdown is likely to be compounding the difficulties you are experiencing.

It is important to realise that there is still help available to you and your loved one suffering from addiction and, if needed, you should not hesitate to seek it.

We have put together some useful information below including how to look after yourself and your loved one.

Be prepared

During lock down active addicts might:

  • Become agitated as their supply dwindles and going out to replenish it becomes more complicated
  • Experience social withdrawal as they are no longer able to see their usual circle of fellow users
  • Experience “cabin fever” as they are no longer able to maintain their usual routine
  • Use more frequently than usual to alleviate the boredom and ward of anxieties related to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Experience feelings of paranoia as conspiracy theories related to the COVID-19 pandemic are rife all over social media

Recovering addicts might:

  • Experience stronger cravings than usual, as the added stress of lockdown gets to them
  • Become anxious about losing their support system as they are no longer able to attend support groups
  • Feel overwhelmed by the disruption of their hard-won routines – especially if they are no longer able to go out to work/have temporarily lost employment due to pandemic related closures

Dealing with an addict during lockdown

Here are some useful guidelines to keep yourself safe when dealing with an addict during lockdown:

Dos

  • Make sure you have emotional support – this can come from friends, family or professional support persons
  • Remember that you cannot control your loved one’s behaviour
  • Learn about addiction as an illness
  • Set healthy boundaries (i.e. stand firm on the restrictions of lockdown, now is not the time to have gatherings at your home, even if you might have previously preferred your loved one to use their substance of choice in the safety of your premises)
  • Listen to your loved one when they are willing to talk
  • Look after yourself – eat well, get sleep, exercise, leave the house for a breather
  • Find out about addiction treatment options in your area, so you will be ready when your loved one wants to start their recovery

Don’ts

  • Don’t try to shield your loved one from the consequences of their addiction (i.e. pay their rent, buy their groceries)
  • Don’t make excuses for your loved one when they neglect their responsibilities at work, school or home
  • Don’t search the house for alcohol, drugs and paraphernalia
  • Don’t berate, lecture or nag your loved one about their substance abuse
  • Stay away from ultimatums and emotional blackmail (i.e. If you loved me, you wouldn’t do this!)
  • Don’t let your loved one draw you into endless rounds of passing the blame or justifying their behaviour
  • Don’t get into arguments when your loved one is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Don’t take your loved one’s outbursts personally and do not take on the responsibility for their condition
  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you could solve your loved one’s substance abuse problems, if only you tried hard enough

Starting addiction treatment during lockdown

Being in lockdown your loved may be more willing to undertake a residential addiction treatment program. Not only would this be beneficial to your loved one, but it will remove any immediate issues that you are facing.

If your loved one enters into addiction treatment during lockdown, it will allow you to focus on your own needs for a while, without feeling as though you are neglecting your loved one.

Enabling

The temptation to enable your loved one’s addiction, just to keep the peace during an unprecedented situation like a lockdown, can be strong.

However, once you begin to learn about the cycle of addiction, you will realise that any crisis in an addict’s life has the potential to become a turning point.

By enabling your loved one’s addiction and protecting them from the consequences of their actions, you are doing them a disservice. Yes, watching your loved one suffer is heart-breaking; but you never know which disaster may be the catalyst for permanent change.

We recommend taking the time to learn more about enabling.

Online Support

Actively seeking out online support groups ( i.e. https://thefirststop.org.au/family-support-services/) for friends and family of addicts can feel a little odd at first; after all, you’re not the one struggling with substance abuse, so you may not think that you are in need – or even deserving – of help. It’s only normal to feel a little weird about taking such a big step, but you will be surprised how much it can improve your situation.

Let’s face it: Loving an addict is hard, especially if you live together.

It’s a constant emotional strain, it often goes hand in hand with financial struggles, and the unrelenting feeling of uncertainty is incredibly draining.

Families and friends of addicts commonly experience strong feelings of helplessness, inadequacy and anxiety; they can become depressed and socially isolated under normal circumstances – but in exceptional situations like this it is absolutely essential to take steps to ensure you don’t become completely disconnected from the outside world.

Support groups, if nothing else, will prove conclusively that you are not alone.

Thousands of families and couples are impacted by addiction to drugs and/or alcohol; and even though their struggles may not be identical to yours, there are enough similarities to create common ground for discussion and mutual support.

Simply being in an environment where you don’t need to feel ashamed in some way of your situation can provide incredible relief.

Being able to openly talk about the hurdles you face every day when trying to deal with an addict’s erratic outbursts, unreliability and emotional blackmail, is a very cathartic experience.

Every time you attend a support meeting or even just talk to a support worker on the phone, you will come away stronger, saner and better able to deal with the next curve ball that comes your way.

Stay connected

Another important thing to keep in mind is that your loved one’s addiction should not bring your own life to a stop.

This is of course easier said than done in a national lockdown situation, however, social distancing does not equal a total cessation of socialising.

Even though the Queensland government has asked us to observe self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing rules, you still can

  • Go for a walk with a friend
  • Visit a friend or family member at home/have them come to your house. Two visitors are allowed on any private premises, although keeping a safe distance while you are hanging out is encouraged
  • Go and exercise on your own to clear your mind. Going for a walk/run/bike ride is not a restricted activity.
  • Call and/or video call a friend. Just because you can’t hang out at your favourite coffeeshop anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t get a take away brew, make yourself comfortable at home and have a virtual date with a friend or family member.

Where To Get Further Help And Support

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Family Drug Support – National service supporting families affected by alcohol and drugs, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – 1300 368 186
  • CounsellingOnline – Free alcohol and drug counselling online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • ADIN – Australian Drug Information Network
  • Al-Anon Support for parents and children of alcoholics – 24-hour Help Line 1300 252 666

Domestic Violence in Lockdown

Stressful situations, like the current COVID-19 crisis, often see an increase in domestic violence and when living with an addict, you fall into a higher risk category to experience this. If your loved one is showing signs of becoming violent towards you or others in your home – or if you fear they might turn to violence – it is important to know where to turn.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queensland government has approved substantial monetary support for Domestic Violence Support Services, so do not hesitate to contact any of the following services for help and advice:

NOTE: If your loved one is having a violent outburst and you and/or members of your household are in immediate danger, you must call 000. Queensland police takes domestic violence calls very seriously and will come to your assistance immediately.

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