Cocaine Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Drug Addiction, Psychosis and Redemption

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She tried rehabilitation. It didn’t stick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That requires multidisciplinary care by various health professionals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fears in Recovery

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

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

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

Top 10 Fears in Recovery:

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

Ways to Beat the Fears

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens To Your Body When You Use Cocaine?

As with all stimulant drugs, the effects of cocaine vary depending on the potency, purity, and quantity of the drug you ingest, as well as your health, body mass, and chemistry.

It is hard to predict the exact effect of any drug, which is why taking drugs is never risk-free.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug – or ‘upper’ – which means it speeds up the messages between your brain and body, causing feelings of euphoria and heightened confidence.

How does Cocaine work?

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporters in the brain, causing an overproduction of this naturally occurring chemical. Dopamine regulates the pleasure centre of the brain and the amount of dopamine you naturally produce determines our sex drive, appetite, and general feelings of happiness. As the brain goes into overproduction, you will experience extreme versions of perfectly normal feelings and desires.

When you are high on cocaine you may experience

  • Euphoria
  • Out-of-character levels of confidence
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Increased libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Illusions of grandeur, extreme strength, and mental clarity
  • Seemingly limitless energy levels

However, the overstimulation of your receptors and the overproduction of dopamine also has immediate negative effects, including

  • Anxiety, agitation, and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature

Cocaine can also cause you to feel indifferent to physical pain, which means you are more likely to engage in dangerous activities, damage yourself and then aggravate injuries by ignoring them.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, you can absolutely overdose on cocaine. If you misjudge the strength or quantity of any drug, you are likely to take more than your body can handle and there is no way of knowing for sure how much that might be.

If you take too much cocaine, cocaine that is too strong or cocaine that is ‘cut’ with a different harmful substance, you might experience

  • High anxiety
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Stroke

What are the Risks of taking Cocaine?

In the worst-case scenario, a cocaine overdose will leave you comatose or dead. However, even if that doesn’t happen, there are many risks involved in cocaine use. If you use cocaine regularly or overdose, you may develop:

  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Heart conditions
  • Cerebral atrophy (brain wastage leading to permanently impaired cognitive functioning)
  • Eating disorders
  • Hallucinations

Depending on how you ingest cocaine, you may also develop

  • A perforated septum (from snorting cocaine)
  • Breathing difficulties, chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease (from smoking cocaine)
  • Tissue damage, collapsed veins, blood-borne viruses (from injecting cocaine)

Cocaine has the potential to wreak absolute havoc with your physical and mental health, even in its purest forms. The added risk of unknown substances being used to ‘cut’ any given batch of the drug means that you are also putting yourself in danger of side effects usually not associated with cocaine, such as abscesses and liver failure.

Learn more about cocaine addiction treatment here.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the brain by stimulating high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The effects are often short-lived, causing users to use frequently.

Cocaine is highly addictive, and addiction requires hospitalised treatment through residential addiction treatment.

But what is cocaine, and how is it made?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, derived from the leaves of the native South American Coca Bush.

There is no telling how long natural cocaine has been in use for a variety of medical and semi-recreational purposes in its native land; however, Cocaine Hydrochloride, the purified chemical version of the active ingredient of the coca leaf, was first isolated in the early 1900s.

Cocaine Hydrochloride used to be a medical staple because of its numbing properties; it was in frequent use in order to block pain during surgical procedures. However, cocaine also made its way into everyday use – albeit in lower dosages – in the forms of cough syrups, cold remedies and even as an ingredient of early incarnations of Coca-Cola.

Since then, however, research has shown that regular and frequent cocaine use can have devastating consequences, including irreversible damage to our brain structure and brain function. As a result, cocaine has long since been declared a Schedule II Drug or illegal stimulant drug, meaning that possession, sale, procurement and consumption carry fines and/or jail sentences depending on the amount and individual circumstances.

There are currently three main types of cocaine in circulation:

  • Cocaine Hydrochloride – a fine white powder that can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums or dissolved in liquid for injection. Street cocaine is often ‘cut’ with visually similar substances, such as baking powder, sugar or talcum powder, adding an element of undeterminable risk for the user.
  • Freebase – a white powder that tends to present fewer impurities than cocaine hydrochloride; however, it is also more potent and more likely to result in overdose.
  • Crack Cocaine – this crystalline form of cocaine is usually smoked and comes in a variety of colours ranging from pure white to pink and blue hues. It is the most addictive form of cocaine and its devastating effects on the user are well-documented.

Cocaine is known by many names, including:

  • Charlie
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Nose Candy
  • Snow
  • Blow
  • White dust
  • Toot
  • White Lady
  • Stardust
  • C

Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid for injection or, in the case of Crack Cocaine and Freebase, be smoked in a glass pipe. No matter the method, the high usually comes on fast and lasts between five and fifteen minutes. Once the immediate effects of cocaine wear off, the user often experiences a jarring ‘crash’ which can lead to repeated use within a relatively short time span.

Cocaine is considered an addictive and harmful substance, and there are no known safe levels of use.

Read more about cocaine addiction here.

What’s the Difference Between a Slip and Relapse?

Slip and relapse are two terms that individuals in recovery will often hear. They can sometimes be used interchangeably, so it is easy to become confused. But are they the same thing?

This article will help explain the difference between the two terms.

You may see slip and relapse as meaning the same thing. It often depends on your personal experience with addiction, which can have an influence on how you interpret the terms. To determine the difference between the two terms, it can be helpful to consider your intention. For example, a slip could be considered an unplanned use of alcohol or drugs, but relapse is when your recovery plan is totally abandoned. A slip is only temporary whereas relapse is more permanent. Slips can easily lead to relapses without proper intervention.

You may unknowingly go through a slip. For example, if you accidentally consume a pot brownie thinking it was a normal brownie. This is an obvious accident; however, slips can also happen because of temptation. If you’re at a party and everyone around you is drinking, you might slip and consume alcohol, thinking you will only slip ‘just this once’. This mentality can easily lead to a relapse, so it is important to consider whether it is worth it to give in to temptation. Being honest about your addiction and being aware of what may trigger you can be helpful in relapse prevention. However, if you do experience a slip, you should return to your addiction recovery plan at once, so you don’t progress into a relapse.

If you have slipped after completing your residential addiction treatment, it is important to acknowledge it and think about why the slip happened. Put in the effort to not make the mistake again and decide to stay in recovery. Talking to anyone who’s a part of your support system can help you move past it. It can be hard to move on from a slip, especially if you feel regret or remorse, but everyone makes mistakes and if you continue to work on recovering, the slip won’t hold you back.

If you have slipped a few times, this does not mean you are in relapse. Relapsing is completely abandoning your recovery plans. This means you have returned to your life before you started your recovery plan. So, if you are still making the effort to recover, you have not relapsed, just don’t use slips as an excuse for relapsing. If you have a habitual use of drugs or alcohol, this is not a slip, this is a relapse. So even if you’re not using all the time, it is still a patterned behaviour of usage.

If you are struggling with slips or relapses, the Hader Clinic Queensland can help you get back on track to sobriety.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic brain disorder that causes repetitive harmful behaviours and an uncontrollable desire to keep engaging in these behaviours.

Addiction is most commonly associated with alcohol and drugs; however, the same principle applies to less well-publicised dependencies, such as gambling, sex, food, technology and even work addictions.

How does Addiction work?

The path to addiction usually follows four clearly defined stages:

Stage One – Experimentation
Very few people make it through life without ever experimenting with drugs and or alcohol. Teenage curiosity, peer pressure or simply a random opportunity to try something new most often lead to a person’s first experience with drugs. Experimentation does not necessarily lead to full-blown dependency.

Stage Two – Social or Regular Use
There are many casual drug and alcohol users, who only engage in these risky behaviours on weekends, parties or social get-togethers. The danger here is that we often gravitate toward social environments in which substance abuse is encouraged in order to avoid judgement.

Stage Three – Problematic or Risky Use
This stage occurs when the behaviours developed in Stage Two intensify and we lose regard for their consequences. Whether there are physical repercussions (i.e. vomiting, passing out, horrific hangovers), social repercussions (i.e. mistreating loved ones when drunk or high) or personal repercussions (i.e. engaging in dangerous activities, overspending); if they cease to matter, substance use has become problematic. At this stage, use becomes more frequent and no longer requires an ‘occasion’ or even company.

Stage Four – Dependency
At this stage, substance use occurs on a daily basis, often multiple times a day and is no longer within the user’s control. Drugs and/or alcohol are now a requirement to function and feel normal; and withdrawal is becoming increasingly uncomfortable. When a substance dependency occurs, the need to keep using will outweigh all other needs and responsibilities, regardless of personal cost and consequences.

This then continues into a cycle of addiction.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

Addiction changes people fundamentally. Addicts will display behaviours and engage in activities that can seem completely out of character and can seem quite alarming to their loved ones. It is important to recognise these signs for what they are – symptoms of a disease.

Persons experiencing addiction might

  • Isolate themselves from friends and family
  • Become increasingly secretive
  • Become overly defensive when the subject of substance abuse is raised
  • Display extreme emotions
  • Be subject to dramatic mood changes
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Refuse to acknowledge that their behaviour is becoming problematic

On a physical level, persons experiencing addiction might

  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Feel unwell (joint pain, runny nose, persistent cough) most of the time
  • Experience memory loss
  • Experience depression and anxiety at unprecedented levels

What Causes Addiction?

Unfortunately, drugs and/or alcohol and other addictive substances and/or behaviours will leave the user experiencing many pleasurable sensations in the early stages of use. Heavy drug users often describe their addiction as chasing their first high and never managing to recreate it. Continuous substance abuse impacts the brain until the user craves immediate gratification constantly, yet needs more and more of their substance of choice to feel an effect.

Addiction takes hold once the brain is depleted of natural ‘happy chemicals’ (i.e. endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline) and drugs and/or alcohol are the only way to feel good and function on a day to day basis. Quitting becomes very difficult as the withdrawal symptoms intensify and cravings become overwhelming; which is why it is vital to seek professional help for the detoxification and rehabilitation process.

What are the Risks of Addiction?

Addiction has a negative impact on all areas of life.

Health Risks
Substance abuse can irreparably damage a person’s health. Some of the biggest risks are infection with blood-borne viruses (BBV) through upsurges in impulsive, risk-taking behaviour, permanent neurological damage, heart disease, and damage to major organs.

Social Risks
Addiction affects personality changes, which can lead to damaged relationships, break-ups and estrangement from friends and family. Furthermore, addiction increases the risk of isolation and anti-social behaviours, with the potential to lead to loss of employment, or in some circumstances, periods of incarceration.

Economic Risks
Maintaining an addiction is expensive. People dealing with substance abuse disorders are at heightened risk of experiencing bankruptcy and ending up in debt.

Psychological & Emotional Risks
Depression, anxiety and increased stress are all classical side effects of addiction. Those with a history of mental health issues will see an exacerbation of these, leading to further deterioration of mental state, mood, and affect. Destructive behaviours and thoughts that often accompany substance dependence include self-harm and suicidal ideation.

If you or a loved one are showing signs of addiction, contact the Hader Clinic Queensland today.

What Happens After Rehab?

One would think the hard part is over once you have taken the leap to check yourself into rehab, worked through detox and withdrawal, and completed 30-90 days of residential treatment.

However, the recovery process is usually far from finished when a recovering addict is sent out into the real world.

Residential treatment provides around the clock support, which is essential to making it through the early stages of recovery; it keeps all outside influences, temptations, and problems at bay so you can focus on your own well-being without interruptions. Once you leave the residential facility – though support systems are still available to you – you are going to have to navigate your new reality on your own; so, it pays to have an action plan to make re-entry a little easier.

Transitional Housing Program

After completing the 90-day residential rehabilitation treatment program recovering addicts may be eligible to undergo the second phase of residential treatment; the transitional housing program. The transitional housing program is designed to help transition and integrate you back into the “real world” without feeling as though you are being thrown straight back into life.

We see a greater success rate in long term addiction recovery when clients complete the transitional housing program.

Aftercare Program

After completing rehab or the transitional housing program clients are able to undertake our aftercare and relapse prevention program.

The aftercare program is designed to help recovering addicts continue the process of reintegration with their lives outside of rehab, providing ongoing monitoring and support. Clients completing the aftercare and relapse prevention program reduce the risk of relapse compared to going straight back into society following their addiction treatment.

Online Aftercare Program

Alternatively, we offer our residents our online aftercare program, which provides invaluable resources at times of need through the HaderCare mobile application.

The app-based support program consists of addiction rehabilitation information, resources and activities plus weekly meditation videos, and real-time individual counselling sessions via video integration allowing you to continue your recovery when at home.

Be Trigger-Savvy

Getting clean and sober is hard – staying clean and sober is harder. Once you get back home, you can expect your cravings to go through a renewed peak; because you are likely going to be surrounded by triggers.

In order to make it through the first few months in ‘the wild’, you have to be aware of potential triggers and put strategies in place to cope with them as best as you can.

Triggers can include (but are not limited to):

  • Friends you used to drink/use drugs with
  • Places you used to drink/use drugs at
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Feelings of depression and despair
  • Avoiding triggers entirely is practically impossible; however, as long as you are aware of them, you are going to be able to work around them.

Be Ruthless

Now is not the time to be polite. If old friends show up uninvited and invite you to join them for a few drinks, a little smoke or just a straight-up bender, you are absolutely allowed to slam the door in their faces…if you even open the door. If old friends/acquaintances are not supportive of your recovery, respectful of your sobriety or encouraging in your quest for long-term healing, they have to go.

If you are invited to attend a social event in a part of town that might be triggering – the city, the party district, your old local pub – you are well within your rights to refuse. If a location makes you uncomfortable, you do not have to go. If your friends are offended by this, don’t pick up the phone next time they call. You have enough on your plate without trying to please them.

If your home itself is a trigger location – after all, many addicts use at home – you may need to consider moving. Obviously, not everyone has the luxury of just packing up and moving house, but it might be worthwhile to explore some options, such as staying with parents/friends/siblings for a while or doing a stint of house-sitting in a different part of town. This may seem drastic, but if the sight of your old living room brings on heavy cravings, it might be necessary, even just in the short term.

Go to your Meetings

Once you graduate from residential treatment the best way to keep your recovery momentum is to attend as many support group sessions as you feasibly can. Some recovering addicts attend daily meetings for months and even years in order to stay strong. It is a great way to stay in touch with your peer group, exchange coping strategies for everyday challenges and generally remember that you are not alone in this.

Many rehabilitation programs offer regular individual counselling sessions for as long as you feel you need them, which is a great way to supplement the group meetings and stay on track for long-term recovery. Loneliness and isolation are both powerful triggers that can lead to relapse; so keeping in touch and staying social with the right kind of crowd is one of the best things you can do for yourself.


Now is the time to focus on getting yourself well in every possible way. Re-vamp your diet, schedule daily exercise, explore meditation and mindfulness practise (or continue on with practises you were taught in residential treatment), regularly check in with sober friends and recovery buddies and allow yourself to take pleasure in little things every day.

Note: this doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up every time you don’t feel like going for a walk, eat a bag of chips or can’t bring yourself to do half an hour of breathing. Self-compassion is just as important as self-discipline when it comes to recovery.

Be Relapse Aware

Around half of all addicts in recovery will experience at least one relapse during their journey to long-term sobriety. While this is not ideal, it also does not spell the end of your recovery, it is simply another setback you have to overcome.

If your relapse is an isolated incident, simply pick up the phone once you’ve sobered up and call your counsellor, sponsor, recovery buddy, your mother, your best friend…anyone who is going to listen to you and offer support to get you through this rough patch. There is no need for shame, you are not the first person to have relapsed and you’re certainly not going to be the last.

Stick With It

Yes, recovery is hard. Yes, recovery can feel like a never-ending process. Yes, recovery can absolutely suck some days. But you need to stick with it. Every day you stay sober is a good day, even if it doesn’t feel great at the time. The fact that you entered rehab is proof of your strength and the fact that you get up every morning now, post-rehab, to face the world as best as you can mean you are just getting stronger. Take it one day at a time. You are doing amazing.

Wil’s Addiction Recovery

Wil proves there is hope and recovery for people whose lives have been destroyed by their long-term drug addiction. Watch his story.

You could say that being an addict is the only thing I’ve known – because I’ve spent at least half of my twenty four years in active addiction – as well as several years in jail. You’d think that there would be no hope for someone whose addiction has led them down this path, right?

WRONG!  Thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland, I was reborn into a life free of drugs five months ago. I’m currently undertaking the Clinic’s transition housing program.

I came straight to rehab from jail, so being out in the community feels very different, but the support I’m receiving has been helping me a lot. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – to attend 180 NA meetings in 90 days. That works out to be two per day. It’s been really good in that I’ve been making new connections and friends.

My name’s Wil and I was what is known as a “poly user” – my substance of addiction was anything and everything.  I’d use whatever worked to numb the pain or transport me out of my misery to a different place.

I used opiates, benzos, alcohol, ice – you name it, I tried it.

My problems started early in childhood – in primary school. I was a naturally introverted, shy and nervous kid, who found it almost overwhelming trying to make friends and connect with other people. It was as if I never felt really very comfortable in my own skin – at home or at school.

In primary school I was bullied a lot. This left me feeling worthless and empty. I hated myself. All I saw when I looked in the mirror was “not good enough”.

In Year Seven and Eight I started smoking cigarettes. I remember feeling like I was at the bottom of the food chain.  I remember searching out male role models who weren’t victims.

I had spent my whole childhood feeling like I was a victim. I’d had enough.

I surrounded myself with people who I perceived were my opposite. I started drinking alcohol and smoking pot. I was twelve years old. Eventually I picked up ice.

Pot use went on for many years. I became violent and unpredictable. I transformed my persona into that of a predator and built up a “tough guy” persona – so I could feel comfortable and safe. I was untouchable.

If I wasn’t using, I didn’t feel like I was functioning. Without continual using I’d start feeling apprehensively uncomfortable. I’d feel hopeless and that my worth amounted to nothing. Using took me away from these feelings – and I thought that drugs were the solution to every problem that I had.  When I drank or used, I’d have these momentary windows of self confidence – by myself and in a social situation.

With drugs, I believed that I was capable of living and managing life, just like everyone else. I’d feel moments of happiness or what I thought was self-esteem, especially when I got onto ice.

Now, looking back, I can see that I was trapped.

Drugs was never about a party or socialising with friends. I used to survive my own existence.

My parents didn’t know about my drug use for a long time. There’s a fair history of alcoholism in my family, but not drug use. I was good at being able to keep it under wraps. However, eventually it caught up with me.

They didn’t really know how to handle it, except to ask me to stop. They told me that if I didn’t stop, I couldn’t live at home and that so long as I was using, that they couldn’t be in my life.

The problem was that I was in so deep by this stage – even if I’d wanted to, I had no idea how to stop. I wasn’t capable of it.

I went to see psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. They couldn’t help me. I was put on a cocktail of medications that made my head worse.  They didn’t know what my problem was – before addiction or with it.

My solution was to leave home. Without any income or employment, I turned to crime to support my using. I started dealing and I pushed anyone away that had ever tried to help me.

I managed to stay under the criminal radar until I turned 18. At this stage my ice use was out of control. It was horrific. I started doping myself up on opiates as the ice was no longer working to numb the pain.

To fill that empty hole, I started adding more and more drugs – in different combinations. I was desperately trying not to feel.

I experienced drug induced psychosis for years. I used a lot of benzodiazepines which made me forget everything I had done. This included my first armed robbery at eighteen – I spent three months in jail before I got bailed.

As soon as I was released, my use continued and so did my crimes. Again, I was sent to jail. In a way, it was almost a relief as I began to feel comfortable there. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere, that I was accepted, that there was a place for me to go. This was because I was surrounded by like-minded people who were broken, destroyed and hopeless as well.

Upon release I’d try to maintain my drug use, or cut back as a way of trying to remain functional. Naturally, it didn’t work. I’d be off my face and out of control.

I got a job when I was on bail. It lasted a month, then I was back on the run. That resulted in another twelve month jail term.

After this release, I thought I’d try and find a girlfriend to fill the void. However, she was also using, and it wasn’t long before I was back on the run, arrested, and this time jailed for two years.

When I was released, I tried the same things. I tried to get a job, I tried to maintain and not escalate my drug use, I’d try and swap one drug for another. However, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t use some substance of addiction to get by.  I wouldn’t go to sleep at night unless I knew there was a hit of something I could look forward to in the morning.

From the moment I woke up, my life was full of drugs. Whether it was a needle in my arm, or something in my mouth, it was always there.

My life of crime continued to support my habit.

Again, I went back to jail and was bailed to another rehab. That went to shit really quickly. They wanted to deal with my mental health issues before dealing with my addiction. The last thing I needed was more medication. I escaped the rehab and lasted seven days on the run.

That transgression resulted in me going back in jail for sixteen months. At this time, my mum came back into my life. She visited me in jail. I tried to push her away. She had received an inheritance that would pay for a proper rehab and also set me up after my transition program.

She persisted in visiting and as I couldn’t see a future for myself, I kept trying to push her away. I thought the only hope for my future was to have enough drugs so I could survive it.

At this stage, I felt so bad that I didn’t want to leave jail. I was exhausted, defeated and broken.

However, she wasn’t giving up. After seven days out of jail and not using, I was suicidal. I began to see that I was causing her pain, I was causing myself pain and I was causing everyone in my family pain. Surely there had to be a better way? I was now at the stage where I couldn’t live with using anymore, yet I also couldn’t live without using.

When I was still in jail, my mother started looking at rehab options. I was still using in jail and didn’t want a bar of it. There weren’t many rehabs that would take me, given my criminal history and that I was on parole.

However, she discovered The Hader Clinic Queensland and when she called them, she had a sense that this was the right place for me. During that initial phone call, the staff related to all the problems I experienced as a kid as well as the addiction. They seemed to understand the person I was.

I got paroled from jail straight into the rehab. The rehab became my parole address.

I managed to arrive at the Hader Clinic Queensland detoxed, broken, defeated and willing to give anything a try.

I was also suspicious, sceptical and unconvinced.

I walked down those stairs to a big welcome. Staff members Donna and Mark were there to meet me. There was something about them that I could relate to, especially Mark. They spoke to me on a level where I felt accepted, and welcome. It was a surreal experience.

This part where I felt I related to them? They didn’t talk to me like a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. They talked to me as a person. It helped me to understand that I had a way forward.

I began to realise that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I started going to meetings and whether I told them or not, heard my own stories in some way.

JJ (support worker) was a big part of my experience there – the way he shared his message and recovery was an inspiration to me.

The penny really dropped when I realised that people live and deal with life without using. It was amazing to see that it was possible that people who had lived like me were making a life for themselves and were genuinely happy.

Watching the way these people had recovered and seeing how tall and proud they walked made me want the same thing.

I’ve been in the Transition Program for two months. I’m using the NA framework and doing the twelve steps. I have a great sponsor and I’m currently up to step five. I’m about to move in with someone from NA who is four years’ clean.

I would be lying if I said those stepping stones from being practically institutionalised in jail have been easy. I’m catching up on many things like learning to budget, cook and clean. It’s a bit intimidating at first, but the support I have had makes it worthwhile.

At the same time, I’m looking forward to taking on all those bits of life that I’ve missed. Living life clean. I appreciate every single day.

I want to get across to anyone who’s been living in jail and thinks that there’s no hope and it’s the end of the road to think again. There are stepping stones that you can take to get your life back.

Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for giving me hope, and my life back.

How to Tell Someone You Suffer From Addiction

Admitting to anyone, including yourself, that you are suffering from addiction and need help is likely to release complex emotions including feelings of helplessness, fear, disappointment, and shame.

The prospect of sharing your illness with friends and family can be daunting but if you can work up the courage to reach out for help it will prove to be an essential step to your recovery.

Why should I tell?

Long-term addiction recovery from substance dependency is not easy. You are going to need all the help you can get, including your friends and family who will form part of your support network.

By admitting to your loved ones that you are having difficulty managing or stopping alcohol or taking drugs, you are allowing them to step up and support you as best they can.

It’s a good idea to brace yourself for their initial reaction as they may express anger and disappointment; but once the shock has subsided you will be surprised by their support and willingness to help.

Active addicts

If you are currently struggling with an active addiction – meaning you are using drugs and/or alcohol frequently and are unable to stop – there are many benefits to letting your friends and family know.

They are probably already wondering what is going on with you, no matter how hard you try to conceal your struggle. They might even be somewhat relieved to finally have an explanation for your out-of-character behaviours.

Once you have told your friends and family, you are finally free to ask them for help. Friends and family will often help you find the best addiction treatment program for you.

Recovering addicts

If you are already in recovery and have been to rehab  there might seem little point in letting anyone know you are a former substance abuser. However, disclosure is key to sustained long-term recovery.

Considering the Australian drinking culture, it is statistically impossible that you will be able to stay away from all locations where alcohol is available. At some point, you will find yourself at a social occasion and someone will offer you a drink – unless they know you are a recovering alcoholic. Once you have told people, they can support you by helping you abstain.

The same is true for all other substances. You have to be open about your struggles and your desire to remain clean in order for your friends and family to rally around you and help you minimise the risk of triggers and relapse.

When should I tell them?

Ideally, you will have this conversation shortly after you admit to yourself that you are suffering from addiction. Don’t put it off; you may lose your nerve if you do.

It is up to you how you tell them. You can call a family meeting and tell everyone who needs to know at once or you might prefer telling only one or two of your nearest and dearest at first.

That said, no matter how many of your friends and family are present when you first admit to your struggle with addiction, make sure the timing is at least moderately convenient. Late at night or just as people have to leave the house to go to work is not ideal – this is unlikely to be a ten-minute conversation.

Where should I tell them?

You will need a calm and private space for this conversation.

Ideally, you will be at someone’s home where everyone feels safe and comfortable to express their feelings – because there are likely to be a lot of feelings.

Once you have made your announcement, it is important for you to stay and listen; your friends and family are entitled to say their piece as well. Yes, this will be hard; but you will be surprised how helpful their take on the situation can be as you begin your recovery journey.

How should I tell them?

There is no one right way when it comes to telling friends and family.

It’s not a bad idea to plan ahead and rehearse what you want to say. It might even be helpful to write down the best version you can come up with so that you can refer back to it in case you get emotional or lose track.

No matter the words you choose, the most important thing is to be completely honest.

There is no point in minimising your substance abuse issues, you are doing no one any favours by sugar-coating is or leaving out the parts you are most ashamed of.

This is your chance to change your life. Admitting your struggles with alcohol and/or drugs can be terrifying; however, it is also the first step to freeing yourself from the cycle of addiction.

Hospital or Rehab – Which is Best for You?

Looking for the right rehab for yourself or your loved one can be a daunting experience.

Google the term “rehab” and you’ll come up with a plethora of options from counselling, medical options, hospitals, retreats in exotic locations through to “tough love” bootcamps.

The big question is, how do you know what rehab is best for you?

For most people, the most important thing when choosing a rehab program is ensuring that the rehab facility offers an evidence-based program that supports demonstrated long term successful outcomes. This, of course, hinges on the client/patient being fully engaged with the process.

Depending on the substance of addiction, a medical detox may also be required.

Hader Clinic Queensland, which is fully accredited by ACHS, offers two distinct pathways for recovery. They are a private hospital program at Hader Clinic Queensland Private, which includes a medically supervised detox, and a residential rehabilitation program at Hader Clinic Queensland.

Benefits of Hader Clinic Queensland Private’s Hospital Program:

  • Patients undergo medically supervised detox (often required for extensive polydrug use and complex mental health presentations)
  • Treatment is overseen by a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals
  • Covered by private health insurance
  • Includes parts of the Hader Clinic Queensland’s psychosocial program, which is an introduction to long term rehab
  • Can continue onto residential rehab program at a greatly reduced cost (save 40% on residential rehab when completing a hospital program and using private health insurance)
  • 28-night stay

Benefits of Hader Clinic Queensland’s Residential Rehab:

  • An “all in” program where you are committing to doing the work for your recovery
  • 30, 60, 90-day options
  • Greater psychosocial component which is better for long term change
  • Focuses on behaviour change and addresses underlying psychological aspects of addiction
  • Based around a therapeutic community
  • Access to psychiatrist
  • Includes attendance at NA/AA meetings which is encouraged to continue after rehab
  • Ability to do Transitional Housing Program after completion of the 90-day program

Finally, the other big question around rehab is, how much does it cost?

This is where holding private health insurance can make a big difference in costs.

Being private, both our hospital and residential rehab programs come with associated costs. However, private health insurance can be used to cover a large portion of the costs for the hospital program. Depending on your situation, this may be more suitable financially, as the residential rehab is not covered by private health insurance. Additionally, combining a hospital and residential rehab program may be more cost-efficient as well.

To discuss costs and which program will work best for your situation, call the clinic on 1300 856 847.


Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation

We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.

How much does private rehab cost?
Use our online calculator to estimate the cost of treatment.
Calculate Cost of Rehab