Heroin Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

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.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

When it comes to heroin addiction treatment, and specifically withdrawal, it is important to separate acute withdrawal symptoms from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Acute withdrawal symptoms occur immediately after cessation of heroin use and commonly last between five and seven days; post-acute withdrawal syndrome, however, can last for weeks or even months after a person has stopped using.

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Habitual heroin users are likely to experience a range of intense symptoms when they stop using. Heroin dependency affects a user physically and mentally; so, withholding the drug will lead to mental and physical discomfort.

Common heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Aches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive body fluids (tears, sweat, phlegm)
  • Restlessness

These symptoms commonly begin about 6-12 hours after the last dose of heroin and can be expected to peak within the first three days of withdrawal. Typically, the symptoms begin to subside slowly after five to seven days of abstinence.

When quitting heroin, it is vitally important to seek medical support to assist with the acute withdrawal symptoms, which can be intimidatingly severe. In extreme cases, persons going through heroin withdrawal will experience hallucinations and feelings of terror; which means they may pose a danger to themselves and/or others if left unsupervised.

It is also essential to stay hydrated and nourish the body as it goes through withdrawal, which can be an overwhelming task when experiencing symptoms.

Medically assisted withdrawal guarantees a safe environment and may ease the pains of withdrawal considerably without putting the recovering addict at risk of misusing alternative medications. It also offers invaluable support in moments when the process seems too daunting and the cravings become overwhelming. Although a week of withdrawal may not sound like a long time, once in the thick of it, a person attempting to quit heroin will need all the support they can get.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a condition that may set in after the initial phase of withdrawal has subsided. PAWS is not limited to recovering heroin users, it is associated with the cessation of a number of drugs, and there is no clear indicator as to why some users are susceptible to PAWS while others manage to avoid it.

The symptoms of PAWS largely impact a recovering addict’s mental health and include:

  • Depression, sadness and anxiety
  • Irritability, aggression and hostility
  • Mood swings bordering on manic behaviour
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling restless
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of sex drive

However, some persons affected by PAWS may also experience chronic pains (i.e. joint pain, back pain, and headaches).

Unfortunately, there is no clear timeline for PAWS; it can last a few weeks post-acute withdrawal or stay with a recovering user for months.

However, there are many ways to assist a person in coping with the effect of PAWS; including cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. As with acute withdrawal, PAWS will be much easier to manage if a person is properly supported by medical and mental health professionals.

If you or a loved one need help to cope with heroin withdrawal and/or PAWS, do not hesitate to reach out. The Hader Clinic Queensland has a dedicated team of professionals who are ready to help you in any way they can.

Health Effects of Heroin

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) is a semi-synthetic opiate drug, made by chemically altering morphine. As with all man-made or chemically altered drugs, it is impossible to know for certain which substances have been added; which means there might be unforeseen side effects due to especially harmful additives. It also makes it difficult to determine the strength of any given batch of heroin, which can increase the risk of overdose.

What are the physical health effects of heroin?

Immediate Risks

Heroin is essentially a strong sedative, meaning that it initially gives the user a feeling of deep relaxation and peace as the drug acts as a suppressant on the central nervous system. After injecting heroin, many users experience extreme drowsiness and will often drift in and out of consciousness until the immediate effects of the drug wear off. One of the biggest risks of using heroin, even as a casual user, is that too strong a dose can suppress the body’s reflex to breathe to the point of respiratory failure.

New heroin users often experience nausea and vomiting, which brings with it the risk of choking on their vomit while they are incapacitated. This risk is not limited to new users; habitual heroin users are always in danger of misjudging the potency of their dose, which may leave them vomiting while unconscious.

Long-Term Risks

As heroin is most commonly used intravenously, many long-term health risks for heroin users are tied to a lack of sterile equipment and unsanitary conditions when injecting heroin. Common side effects of injecting heroin when not using sterile techniques include:

  • Skin infections and abscesses surrounding the injection site
  • Collapsed veins
  • Pulmonary complications
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease (i.e. Hepatitis C)

Intravenous heroin users in the habit of sharing needles are also at a greater risk to contract blood-bound diseases, such as HIV/Aids.

Other – comparatively lesser – side effects of habitual heroin use are stomach cramps, chronic constipation and greater susceptibility to respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia.

What are the Mental Health Effects of Heroin?

Heroin is highly addictive, largely due to the extreme discomfort of the ‘come-down’ which leads to intense cravings and creates the illusion that the body and mind require another dose of the drug in order to function properly. Habitual heroin users no longer inject heroin to achieve the effects of relaxation and euphoria; they have to keep using in order to feel ‘normal’.

Heroin users often experience feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness; especially since heroin addiction has the potential to permeate every aspect of a person’s life. Maintaining a heroin addiction can lead to financial hardship, relationship breakdowns and homelessness. Heroin addicts are prone to suicidal ideation and can become hostile when challenged by loved ones regarding their behaviour.

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The team at The Hader Clinic Queensland are here to answer your questions, give advice and help you on your journey to reclaim your life through heroin addiction treatment.

Seven Signs of Addiction

This article reviews the signs of addiction and explores how those dealing with substance abuse are often the last to realise their use is spiralling.

Recently, the team at Hader Clinic Queensland received a first-hand account of addiction by a client we’ll call ‘Holly’.

Holly writes:

“Being an addict and using, my world felt so alone and isolated. I didn’t think it would end up like this when I started smoking weed at 16. Eventually, I progressed onto other drugs and hit a crossroads with my ice use. I felt so worthless, so disgusting, of what I did from those years on ice. I don’t even know who that person was. I thought I was cool. I thought I was this criminal. I thought, this is my life now, I’m just a junkie”.

For someone without knowledge of addiction, this may seem shocking; but for people suffering from substance abuse disorders, it’s very relatable.

What is addiction?

When it comes to addiction to drugs and/or alcohol opinions on determining factors tend to vary. Genetics, predispositions, environments, circumstances…there are simply too many underlying causes for addiction to apply a one-size-fits-all approach.

Although alcohol addiction has been considered a disease since the 1920s, the idea that addiction is a choice is still prevalent today. While addiction treatment has come a long way in the past century, the stigma of addiction to drugs and/or alcohol still prevents many sufferers from seeking help – and keeps loved ones of addicts engaged in enabling behaviours to cover up the shame of having a family member with a substance abuse disorder.

It is time to radically shift our perspective when talking about addiction. Modern neuroscience has proven beyond a doubt that drugs and/or alcohol have the power to change the structure of our brains to re-wire regular users into compulsive and destructive behaviours. Unfortunately, as this is a slow process, it often goes unnoticed by the budding addicts themselves; which makes it all the more important to be aware of the warning signs of addiction.

#1 – Increased Tolerance

The myth of the ‘gateway drug’ still runs deep, but the truth is that the spectrum of addiction is far too broad to conform to this idea. Not every person who smokes a joint in high school is on the road to heroin addiction. Some people remain casual drinkers and/or drug users for a lifetime.

Instead of focusing our attention on the types of drugs used, we should rather pay attention to the tolerance to these substances. Once addiction is starting to take hold, the user’s tolerance for their substance(s) of choice increases, meaning they need to take more to get the desired effect.

Holly describes her spiral like this:

“At 17 I moved to the UK and lived there for a year. That’s when I started using coke and pills, then eventually ICE when I came back to Australia. It wasn’t long before I was in psychosis.”

Increased tolerance means the body is getting so used to drugs and/or alcohol that its functions are no longer influenced by low doses, which leads to increased and more frequent use. Eventually, users will need to keep up their intake in order to function on a basic level, without any of the ‘desirable’ effects.

#2 -Withdrawal Symptoms

The layman’s idea of withdrawal – as popularised in movies and TV – is that of an addict screaming, writhing in pain and hallucinating as they shiver in a padded cell. While this is unfortunately not inaccurate, it represents only the most extreme end of the scale.

In order to diagnose and treat addiction before it gets to this stage, it is important to understand the early signs of withdrawal.

Physical withdrawal symptoms in the early stages of addiction include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to make it to work/school
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Sweat
  • Nausea

Psychological withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • A burst of unexplained rage
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of interest in socialising and/or doing things for fun

Experiencing these symptoms can be debilitating, especially if the sufferer doesn’t connect them with their substance abuse.

Holly reports:

“I reached a really ugly state in my mind where I didn’t give a shit about anyone except myself.”

#3 – Loss of Control

Nobody sets out to become an addict; yet many people end up struggling with their substance use. How is this possible?

Holly experienced this:

“I had been off the drugs when I went back home to see my family in Brisbane, but as soon as I was back in Sydney, I found drugs again. I would do everything external, but I just couldn’t put down the drugs.”

Put simply, the human body and mind are wired for pleasure and once a source of pleasure is discovered it can be close to impossible to exert the control needed to access it in moderation. Chocolate – a natural source of endorphins – is the perfect example. How many times have you opened a block of chocolate, 100% determined to only eat a square or two and found yourself fifteen minutes later with an empty wrapper and a vague sense of shame?

Overuse of drugs and/or alcohol works in the same way. The pleasure centre of the brain takes over and without assistance, the effort of resisting is simply unmanageable. Addicts frequently have what is termed “moments of clarity”, when they become very aware of the need to stop their destructive behaviours; but stopping is not a matter of willpower. It is a matter of getting help.

#4 – ‘Bad Luck’

Addiction affects every aspect of the sufferers’ lives – as well as the lives of their loved ones. Loss of employment, loss of accommodation, constant money troubles, conflict with the law; addiction leaves no stone unturned. To a person in the throes of substance abuse disorder, this often feels like ‘bad luck’ or some kind of cosmic injustice. However, unfortunately, these horrible experiences are part and parcel of substance abuse.

As Holly puts it:

“I started working in this restaurant in the Valley to make an “honest” living. But inevitably, I’d end up smoking weed, or doing drinks after work. I ended up getting involved in crime. I got charged with possession and stuff and got raided by the police I was charged with category R weaponry possession charges. My parents got raided too and had to move house. They wouldn’t tell me where they lived; they said they were done with me. I had been living on the streets for a couple of weeks, homeless, and I was completely lost. I thought, I don’t deserve to live anywhere, I don’t deserve to have anything.”

Once compulsive use of drugs and/or alcohol has taken hold, addicts may go into ‘survival mode’ and get to a stage when their days revolve around concealing their use, obtaining funds to use and scoring their substance of choice; leaving no energy or mental capacities to address the underlying problem.

#5 – Self-Imposed Isolation

Persons suffering from substance abuse disorders often break off contact with family and loved ones; partly because of the shame attached to their self-destructive behaviours and partly because they are simply too busy feeding their addiction and making it through the day.

Family gatherings, no matter how important and no matter how much they used to enjoy them, are a huge source of stress for addicts. While they may promise to make and effort and be there, substance abuse has a way of preventing sufferers from following through; sending them into spirals of self-loathing and increased consumption.

Holly describes her rock bottom like this:

“I would spend my paycheck on drugs and an outfit I’d wear for a whole week. I would be living pretty disgustingly in a hostel or hotel hopping”.

#6 – Becoming unreliable

Holly writes:

“I found it really hard to hold down a job, and it didn’t help when I did use that I’d turn my phone off and just disappear.”Holding down a job, meeting parenting commitments or simply maintaining a relationship can be close to impossible for many addicts. Substance abuse disorders overshadow everything, no matter how much the sufferer cares deep down inside, and addicts often become less reliable as time goes on.”

In the worst-case scenario this can lead to unemployment, homelessness, losing custody of children and becoming cut off from family and friends; all of which is bound to exacerbate depression, anxiety and stress, ultimately leading to increased use of drugs and/or alcohol unless the addict seeks help.

#7 – Wanting to Stop

We keep repeating it: Nobody wants to be an addict. In fact, most people struggling with substance abuse disorder report a deep desire to stop and an inability to do so.

Holly experienced this during her recovery journey:

“I put myself into this detox program. It went pretty badly. I was doing HeadSpace at the time, and I would go to these drug and alcohol appointments. But I would turn up high. I was just so anxious, and I couldn’t stop using.”

This, unfortunately, is when the harmful myth about ‘willpower’ comes into its own. Addicts are led to believe that they should be able to stop their destructive behaviours unassisted or with minimal support and experience tremendous mental setbacks when they find this impossible. Struggling to control drug and/or alcohol use is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of addiction.

Substance abuse disorders are complex and often come with a number of mental health issues that need to be addressed – properly and by professionals – in order to give addicts the best chance of long-term recovery. Understanding the inner workings of addiction is essential when it comes to quitting destructive behaviours, but professional help is essential for long-term success.

If you recognise yourself in the behaviours described above, don’t feel ashamed. You are not alone and help is available. With the right support, you can reclaim your life, your relationships and your future.

Holly did it.

“The three months I spent in rehab helped me overcome my fear of being around others; it helped me become social again. I’m with people who understand, including the support workers, who are previous addicts. The whole connection thing and being in a safe environment with other people who relate to you, being stable, and focusing purely on your recovery is really cool”.


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

How to Support an Addict at Christmas

The festive season is hectic and stressful at the best of times, but when you have a loved one struggling with addiction Christmas time has the potential to be an absolute nightmare. Family get-togethers can seem incredibly daunting when you throw an addict into the mix, especially since parties are a natural trigger for destructive drinking behaviours.

If you are dreading this year’s family functions, take a deep breath, and read through our list of coping strategies for friends and families of addicts during the holidays. It won’t solve all your problems, but it may ease your anxieties.

Give yourself permission to feel

Having a loved one struggling with addiction is a minefield of emotions – guilt, anger, fear, shame, anxiety, you name it – and the best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge these feelings. Trying to stay strong or ignoring your emotions is not going to get you anywhere; especially if you are trying to protect your loved one by bottling everything up.

Talk to someone you trust

Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or relative can be a huge relief. Venting your emotions will make you calmer when faced with the fall-out of your loved one’s addiction and it will make you feel less alone. Having a person who simply listens to your side of the situation can be imperative to maintain your mental health.

Be open with your loved one

Having a conversation about how your loved one’s addiction is affecting you is incredibly hard. However, it can also be very powerful – even if it doesn’t impact your loved one’s behaviours immediately. If you simply tell your loved one that you would love to see them during the Christmas period but absolutely don’t want to deal with them in a situation where they might potentially be intoxicated, you have taken the first step to protecting yourself.

Make a Plan B (or C or D)

By now you probably know your loved one’s patterns of alcohol use quite well; and there is nothing wrong with using this to your advantage. Schedule a Christmas breakfast with them rather than a lunch if it means they won’t already be intoxicated or make plans to meet them for a Christmas walk away from any drinking opportunities. Remember, you are allowed to withdraw if your loved one’s behaviour causes you pain, you have no obligation to put up with this.

Set clear boundaries

This is especially important if you have children to protect from your loved one’s destructive drinking. Making sure your children don’t have a traumatic Christmas experience is much more important than sparing your loved one’s feelings. Yes, this is a rough call to make; but this is not the time to be vague about your needs and the needs of your children.

Do not drink with them

It may not change your loved one’s drinking behaviour, but it will take away the illusion of a shared, social drinking experience. Politely but firmly refusing to join your loved one when they start drinking can be a powerful way of making a stand, regardless of the immediate reaction.

How to Stay on the Sleigh this Christmas

The silly season, glorious though it might be, can feel like an absolute minefield to the recovering addict. Parties, family get-togethers, loss of routine…Christmas in recovery is hard. Thankfully, as we all know, hard doesn’t equal impossible.

To make sure you get through the holidays without relapsing or tearing your hair out, we’ve compiled twelve strategies you might find helpful:

#1 – Yes, please, I would love a drink…of water!

There’s no getting around well-meaning friends and family offering you beverages, especially if they don’t understand your recovery journey. If you don’t feel like saying ‘no’, say ‘yes’ and specify the non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. 9 times out of 10, the person offering won’t push for alcohol, but if they do:

#2 – Be clear

Repeat after us: “No, thank you. I’ve got to get up early/I have the kids tomorrow/I’m meeting a friend for a dawn run.” You can be polite but still stand firm and it is very unlikely that anyone will insist you have alcohol, but if they do:

#3 – Use Humour

“I’ll have a drink if you eat one of these Christmas ornaments – you first.” Or maybe: “I’ve only just gotten off the naughty list!” Anything you can think of, really. Pre-rehearse lines if you think it might be helpful. It’s almost certain that this will end the discussion, but if it doesn’t:

#4 – Be open

If you’re comfortable doing so, sharing your recovery journey can be a powerful tool. When your friends and family know what you’re going through and how hard you are working to maintain recovery, they can fight in your corner and support you. But if they don’t:

#5 – Have an Exit Strategy

If you think a Christmas get-together has the potential to go south pole rather than the north pole, plan your escape in advance. Get a friend to phone you an hour into the party and pretend there’s an emergency…or, if you like, just do the rounds, say hi-and-bye and go when you’ve had enough.

#6 – Choose an Ally

Having one person in the room, who knows what you are going through and is standing by to support you can make all the difference. Whether it’s a favourite relative or your bestie, confidants can be invaluable in challenging Christmas situations.

#7 – Take time for you

There is no harm in sitting out a Christmas party if you don’t feel up to it. If you would rather go for a walk with a friend or on your own, spend the day at the beach with a good book or go to a meeting – you are allowed.

#8 – Keep up the good work

You are in the middle of recovery, so acknowledge how well you’ve been managing and keep going. Whether you are a regular at AA, go to individual therapy or do recovery work at home, this is not the time to take a break.

#9 – Deep Breaths

No matter how stressed out Christmas gets you, remember to keep breathing and stay in the moment. Try to keep grounded as much as you can and reach out to your support network when you need them.

#10 – Remember Self-Care

Whatever your self-care routine might be, ramp it up a notch this holiday season. Go for an extra swim, eat some amazing food, and hang out with your favourite people.

#11 – Stay Connected

The idea of isolating yourself until Christmas is over can be tempting, but you must be careful to stay connected with the people who support you. If you don’t feel up to any big Christmas dos, no problem; so long as you stay in touch with those who are essential to your recovery.

#12 – Be Kind to Yourself

The holiday season is hard enough as it is, there’s no need to beat yourself up for not coping as well as you hoped. Every recovering addict struggles during festivities and everyone has a bad day or week; give yourself some love this Christmas. You deserve it.

Maintaining Your Recovery During the Holiday Season

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time. A time to get together with friends and family, let bygones be bygones, share the love…all the good stuff.

Unfortunately, when you are recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction the holiday season can be trying to say the least. In fact, the whitest thing about Christmas may well be your knuckles as you are desperately trying to maintain your recovery.

First and foremost: Don’t panic! Struggling during the silly season is a standard experience for recovering addicts and you are not alone.

Secondly, let’s take a look at what makes the holidays so hard; knowledge is power after all and the better we understand holiday triggers, the better we can work around them.

Trigger #1 – Christmas Parties

As soon as December rolls around, it is open party season. Work functions, family get-togethers, backyard barbeques…the list is endless. It’s important to remember that any invitation to a Christmas shindig comes from a good place, but it’s equally important to maintain healthy boundaries to keep your recovery going.

The best way to deal with this overload of opportunities to relapse is to give yourself permission to decline. You are allowed to be selective and you are allowed to put yourself first. If you decide to skip Christmas drinks with co-workers you can choose to be open about your recovery, but you can also make an elegant excuse (i.e. conflicting family event, a date, a sick child…anything goes).

Trigger #2 – Broken Routine

During the Christmas period, routine is usually the first thing to go. Whether you are working extra hours to cope with the holiday rush or have a couple of weeks without work due to holiday closures, things will not run as normal and that is always a challenge for a recovering addict; especially if it means you will be alone for long stretches of the holidays.

It might be helpful to make plans to replace some of the lost structure. Whether you schedule some form of daily exercise, make some extra coffee dates or just stock up on good books or binge-worthy series to keep you occupied, the most important thing is to provide yourself with anchors to avoid reverting to unhealthy coping strategies.

Trigger #3 – Family Get-Togethers

Families are great, but they are also a massive source of stress and anxiety – especially during the holiday season. You may be faced with meeting relatives for the first time since you started your recovery, you may be dreading explaining your journey and dealing with any judgement that might come your way…and on top of that, these people expect presents!

If the thought of the family festivities is sending you into a spiral, confide in your most trusted family member and make them your Christmas buddy. Having one person in the room who knows what you’re going through and has your back can make all the difference.


Mark’s Story of Recovery Continued

Mark struggled for over 20 years with heroin addiction. He is now 6 years clean after completing his stay at Hader Clinic Queensland.

“Mark started experimenting with drugs when he was only 17. This quickly progressed and he was physically and mentally addicted to heroin by the age of 21. He would suffer from withdrawals without it.” He shares his story.

At the time I was studying at university and working full-time. I was able to function, but I knew that my life could not continue this way. I felt like I was leading a double life and I knew I couldn’t maintain my heroin addiction without having some serious consequences. I lived in fear a lot of the time. I didn’t want to end up in jail.

I tried numerous activities to get clean – rapid detoxes, injections of vitamins, doctors, psychologists, naltrexone treatment – nothing worked for me and by the age of 23 I was put on the methadone program.

Even being on methadone didn’t stop me from using heroin, any time I could heroin I would use. Even so, I still managed to initially progress in my career and was managing large teams of people. I continued being on methadone for 14 years and my life slowly deteriorated.

I am certain that people who cared about me knew something was wrong, but they could not say anything to me. Eventually, I hit a low point. I was depressed and my life started to be unmanageable. I couldn’t get out of bed or go to work. I decided to start reducing the amount of methadone I was taking however I was still using heroin regularly.

Using heroin prevented me from forming real relationships such as with friends, partners, and family. I was completely isolated.

I was identified by my job and I was living two lives. I was living one life at work, and a separate life as a drug addict, and both lives involved a lot of lying and deception. It took so much energy to live in both worlds.

That’s all I was – what I did at work and slowly killing myself with drugs. I didn’t know how to have relationships, I didn’t know how to be a friend.

I started attending NA meetings for a few years but still couldn’t kick my heroin habit entirely. I was constantly relapsing and the destruction in my life progressed. I got to a point where I couldn’t stop. I tried detoxes at home, and I tried just gritting my teeth, but I couldn’t do it.

To fund my habit, I stole money from my family. It was this that led me to recovery. When my family confronted me, I opted for rehab. I felt a lot of shame about where my addiction had led me.

I knew I needed to get into detox and rehab. I was willing to get help. I needed to go somewhere that offered a 12-step program and daily meetings.

At the time most rehabs wanted you to detox before you were admitted. I knew from experience that I could not detox by myself. It was a great relief to find Hader Clinic Queensland as they offered detox, rehab and a 12-step program.

There’s a huge jump between rehab, an institution, and the real world. Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program softened that experience and gave me time to readjust to sober life. It helped me integrate back into society and start my new life.

I knew that it was not good for my recovery to live with my family initially. And living in the transition house gave me time readjust to life. Thanks to the foundations I was able to make during my stay in rehab, I have been able to grow and build a life I want to be a part of. I no longer lead a double life and there is peace in that.

Today I am a completely different person. It takes ongoing work, but the benefits are significant. My relationships have improved in all areas of my life. I am now able to connect with other people with more honesty and with self-esteem.

For the past 6 years, I have discovered so many new things about myself. I love to paint, garden, and renovate my home. Being clean has helped me tap into my creativity. I have my own house and I have a job that is rewarding.

I am so grateful for what I learnt and to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me with my recovery. The daily structure I was taught there, I still practice today. I think it is really important to understand that rehab was only the start of the journey for me.


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

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.

Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation

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

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