Ice Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Joe’s Journey Through DVA-Funded Addiction Treatment

Now in Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program, Joe completed 90 days of DVA-funded residential addiction treatment and is feeling better than ever. This is his story.

I lived a life of active addiction after experiencing some trauma in childhood, difficult experiences in the army, and losing a child to Sudden Infant Death syndrome. Most of my time as a young adult I spent using drugs and drinking alcohol, and eventually, it affected every aspect of my life until the point that it was either get help or die. I have now completed 97 days of residential addiction treatment through Hader Clinic and am in the Transition Program, with a new life ahead of me.

I started taking prescription pills when I was a pre-teen after an event that happened to me early in life. Through my teens, I was using speed, marijuana, party drugs, painkillers and dabbled in intravenous use. When I was 17 I joined the army and attempted special forces and completed recon and several other courses including combat first aid.

I experienced some pretty tough medical incidents as a combat first aider that have stuck with me. Drinking culture in the military is huge which meant if you didn’t drink you were left behind pretty quickly. So, my drinking was pretty heavy and I was also using heavy amounts of pain medication. As a combat first aider, I had access to lots of painkillers, including morphine. Eventually, I spoke up about what was happening, I tested positive and was discharged from the army.

When you leave the army you lose all sense of purpose and are completely lost. I got a job in a pub and was still using drugs. I was definitely a poly-substance user, but the one thing that was pretty consistent was the painkillers.

When I had my first child I reduced my drug use, slowed my drinking, and stopped intravenous use. After my second child was born I lost my job as I was stealing money to fund my drug habit. I got involved with the wrong kind of people as I had been missing the brotherhood feeling from the military. I left my partner and started up intravenous meth use in addition to what I was already doing at the time, but I always made sure that I didn’t inject through my arms to hide it from my kids and family.

I ended up getting a job in a hospital that I loved so I applied to study medicine. But things were getting worse, so when I was supposed to start med school I ended up in the ICU a couple of times. I had some overdoses but was still able to hide it from my family and kids. I had been lying for years and using a friend as next-of-kin so they didn’t know about the hospital visits.

I blew every opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and eventually was told by a doctor that I had six months or less left to live. I went to the pub to celebrate. My Mum found out about my alcohol and drug addiction when I locked myself out, called her to help, and she found me completely passed out with tracks in my arm. She googled rehabs and found Hader Clinic Queensland and suggested it to me. To please everybody, I went in but when I found out that I wasn’t going to be able to leave rehab to go use I did freak out.

The first month in drug and alcohol detox I was a complete mess. I eventually realised that when you’re in my kind of situation, 28 days was not going to be enough. I needed to grasp the concept that I had a problem before I could start to do the work to change. Rehab was good, the staff were awesome, and the best thing was definitely the fact that all of the staff had lived experience. It was imperative to me that I wasn’t going to be told stuff from someone who had just read it in a textbook. I could actually learn from someone who had been there before and done it. The individual support was amazing and there were a couple of specific people that definitely saved my life.

I did 97 days of DVA-funded addiction treatment and am one month into Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program. I didn’t think I had changed, but the people I respect and trust said that I have grown incredibly as a person. The Transitional Housing Program is a brilliant program that has been really really good at getting me used to the realities of life with the support I need.

If I had gone straight back into the real world I would likely be in active addiction again. My life now is good. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, my head’s clear, and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a very, very long time. I’m nowhere near as reactive and I can face life’s challenges head on and not blow things out of proportion. I am in the best mental state I’ve been in since I started using painkillers as a pre-teen and it’s all because I decided to do the work and complete 120 days (and counting) of DVA-funded addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.

 

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

Ten Ways to Avoid Social Triggers

Maintaining friendships and taking part in social gatherings – be it family functions, work events or the classic Australian backyard barbeque – is an important part of recovery.

However, it can also be one of the most complex aspects, as these occasions can be highly triggering for those recovering from substance use disorders.

Consider the following strategies to enjoy socialising without jeopardising your recovery process.

BYO

Bringing your own beverages to a gathering is a safeguard against well-meaning offers of alcohol or being cornered in an environment where no alcohol-free options are available.

Clear Boundaries

You are perfectly within your rights to let people know that, while you are happy attending the get-together, you will not be partaking in alcohol and/or drugs and would like your hosts and other guests to respect and support this choice.

Buddy Up

If you’re not comfortable announcing your recovery status to the entire party, choose a trusted friend or family member as your moral support. If anyone offers you alcohol and/or drugs or tries to pry into your motives for abstaining, your buddy can provide distraction or simply whisk you away.

Escape Routes

If you suspect that certain parties at a gathering could compromise your recovery, plan your escape. Set an alarm on your phone and claim a work or family emergency for a quick exit.

Communicate

It is unlikely that your loved ones will give you a hard time for abstaining from alcohol and/or drugs; but open communication is always a good idea. If you are comfortable talking about your recovery journey, your loved ones will gather valuable insights and be able to support you more effectively.

Be Selective

There is no need to attend every get-together you’re invited to. To avoid getting overwhelmed choose your social events wisely and save your energy for occasions you are genuinely excited about.

Compare Notes

If you are feeling anxious about a social event, have a chat with your support group, mentors, or fellow recovering addicts. Knowing you are not alone with your feelings can be tremendously helpful – as can exchanging coping strategies.

Realistic Expectations

Truthfully, the first attempts at socialising during active recovery can be challenging and awkward – and that is perfectly normal. Learning to socialise without alcohol and/or drugs takes practise and does get easier over time.

Debrief

Scheduling a call or coffee with a supportive friend or fellow recovering addict to recap your experience of a social event can be very helpful in identifying particularly potent triggers and reinforcing your recovery momentum.

Trust Your Gut

If you’re have a bad feeling about a gathering, don’t go. If you feel like leaving half an hour into a celebration, do it. If, to your surprise, you find yourself having a great time and would like to stay longer than planned – fantastic! Treat yourself kindly and trust your recovery instincts.

Veteran Ross’ Journey Through DVA-Funded Ice Addiction Treatment

After becoming homeless Ross completed the 90-day residential addiction treatment, and the 9-month transitional housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland, and is now over two years clean. This is his story.

Most of my life I’ve been using drugs and alcohol but things really began to spiral out of control when I started using meth. It was when I really hit rock bottom that I decided to try rehab and called Hader Clinic which got me into DVA-funded addiction treatment, and after some hard work, I’m now two and a half years clean.

I started when I was a teenager, smoking marijuana and drinking a lot. I just worked, smoked and drank until my 20s when I went to work in the mines and then joined the army. I quit the drugs and just drank alcohol while I was working in the mines, and I proceeded to do that when I joined the army as well. I was in the army for a few years and left toward the end of my 20s. It wasn’t really until my 30s that I started up on the drugs again. I’d tried amphetamines, or speed, before so when I was hanging out with some people that offered me meth I thought, why not.

But that’s when things really went downhill for me. Once I started, I was hooked. I started selling weed and that covered the cost of the meth for me, and at that time I was only smoking it every couple of weeks. I made a lot of money dealing weed, but I eventually gave up as it got too stressful, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

By then my ice addiction had started to take hold and I began using every day. Eventually, my money started running out so I had to start selling meth, and so I had access to a lot of it and I was in the throes of addiction. My life started spiralling, I became homeless, and I just was in a really dark place.

When I was living in a men’s homeless shelter, I started seeing a caseworker from the Salvation Army weekly for a couple of years. At the end of every session, she would mention Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction program, and how I could access the program through DVA, so I didn’t have to pay out of pocket.

I was not in the right headspace, so I eventually told her to stop mentioning it to me as I wasn’t interested. I said I would work my stuff out by myself, I just needed to get it together, but really, I was just wanting to end my life. I even made plans to that effect, but then one night this feeling came over me that I was worth more than this. It was the smallest window into a feeling of self-worth and that I was meant for a better life than the one I was living. And then Hader popped into my head.

So I called Hader Clinic the next day, and they explained how it all worked with DVA and everything, but I didn’t book in then and there. I wanted to wait for my paycheck to come in so I could buy some stuff in preparation for the 90 days of DVA-funded addiction treatment. It took me about a month to call back, but when I did they got me into the program within days. I didn’t even have to do anything with DVA, Hader organised the whole thing so all I had to do was fill out the forms and go to rehab.

I was so reluctant when I got to Hader. I had no idea what to expect. I guess I saw it as surgery where you go in, they fix you, and then you come out better. So yeah, I was way off, but I had a great counsellor that I could talk to and be honest about what I was experiencing during my time there. That was the best part of my experience in the program, being able to talk to someone who just listened to me and didn’t try to push something on me.

After 90 days I went to the transition program and I enjoyed having the accountability and honesty of the rehab program but also the freedom to do what I wanted with my days. It was a good way to get back into the real world without losing the support. I would have my weekly chats with Olivia and just talk about how I was feeling, and my concerns, and just be truly honest about how I was going. I got to take the program at my own pace and continue to work on what was going on in my head while adapting back to society.

After the transition program, I didn’t do much but focus on my recovery. I went to a meeting every day and I just took it one day at a time. I was dedicated to staying clean and that meant just taking it day by day and not being hard on myself. I took it slow and I took it easy, and I didn’t compare myself to others, which is something I had to learn.

I always tell the newcomers at NA that it’s hard but you just take one day at a time for the first three months and it gets easier to manage. I’m much better at managing what life throws at me. I relax and avoid things that are too stressful as I know my limits better now.

I’m now 2 and a half years sober, I go to meetings at least once a week, and I meditate when I’m feeling overwhelmed. From a dark headspace in the throes of addiction, through DVA-funded ice addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, the transition program, and now living clean for over 2 years. It’s a roller-coaster but it’s worth it.

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

Christmas Addiction Triggers and How to Manage Them

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you are a recovering addict staring down the barrel of a month-long, no-holds-barred partying nightmare.

According to statistics from the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation (AADF), alcohol and/or substance-related incidents tend to spike dramatically throughout the festive season, including a 50% increase in ambulance attendance for intoxication. Add the social complexities of family get-togethers and work functions – or, in some cases, the lack thereof – and it’s no wonder that many recovering addicts view the month of December as an absolute minefield.

To make it through Christmas unscathed, it’s important to be aware of the most common triggers lying in wait and put strategies in place to avoid relapse. Some of the biggest challenges recovering addicts face during the silly season include:

Social Pressures

Yes, social drinking and/or substance use is bound to ramp up wherever you turn during the Christmas season; however, there are also other, more subtle stress factors at work. You may feel pressure to buy gifts for friends and family that you can’t really afford. You may worry about being labelled as rude for declining invitations to events that you deem too triggering. You may be about to see friends/family/colleagues for the first time since starting your recovery journey and have conflicting feelings about this.

Family and/or Friendship Dynamics

Theoretically, spending quality time with friends and family should be one of the best things about the festive season. In practice, it can be one of the most confronting aspects, especially when you’re in the middle of your recovery journey. There may be unresolved conflict that originates from your days of active addiction. It may be the first time socialising since you gave up drugs and/or alcohol, which can be a source of awkwardness, as some people may not know whether and/or how to approach the subject.

Loneliness

For some recovering addicts, Christmas can be a very lonely time – and loneliness is as powerful a trigger as social overstimulation. If you are not seeing family and/or old friends, whatever the reasons may be, you may experience a range of negative feelings that are counterproductive to your recovery.

However, it’s not all coal in this year’s stocking; with proper planning and consideration, you can minimise the impact of Christmas triggers and find the yuletide cheer without compromising your recovery.

Embracing “No”

This Christmas, give yourself the gift of saying “No” (or, if you feel some seasonal politeness is in order, “No, thank you”). You are allowed to decline offers of alcohol and/or drugs. You are allowed to decline invitations to events that you feel will be too hard to handle. You are even allowed to do so without explaining your motivations; although there is no harm in simply letting people know that you are in addiction recovery and need to look out for potentially harmful scenarios.

Allies Assemble

Everything is easier with a buddy. Trusted family members and/or friends make for excellent support systems during social gatherings. Having just one person in the room who knows what you are going through and can back you up if an uncomfortable situation arises can make all the difference. The same goes for recovering addicts who face a Christmas season without social gatherings; having a mentor/friend/counsellor you can call or meet up with to alleviate loneliness and maintain focus can be invaluable.

Self-Care First

Keeping up healthy habits during the Christmas season is enormously helpful. Eating well, hydrating in the scorching Australian summer, being active, taking time for mindfulness practice and – naturally – keeping up with your recovery program (be it AA/NA meetings or counselling sessions) are essential factors to ensure your wellbeing. Set yourself daily self-care goals and kick them – the effects will be self-evident.

Guerilla Tactics

Let’s be real: There’s always one (or more) friend/family member who is going to be difficult. That uncle insisting you have just one beer with him, that mate who bemoans the fact that you’re no longer cool…and sometimes there’s no avoiding seeing these people. If this happens, it’s time to go rogue. Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages to the party. Set a phone alarm to simulate a phone call and stage an early exit if necessary. Agree on a signal with your party buddy so they can step in and rescue you. Whatever works to keep your recovery going, now’s the time to do it.

Why Christmas is a Good Time to Seek Treatment

On the surface, Christmas may seem an unlikely time to seek treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction. It’s a time to celebrate and spend with your loved ones. A time to make merry. However, therein lies the problem.

If you feel like your alcohol and/or substance use has spiralled out of control and will cause you and your loved ones anguish this Christmas, know help is available and there are some very good reasons to seek professional assistance this holiday.

It’s the Best Gift for your Loved Ones

You may think that your loved ones would hold it against you if you ‘disappeared’ into rehab during the Christmas season, but this is very unlikely. True, they may miss you and wish you could be with them, but starting your recovery journey is the best gift you could possibly give them. Reclaiming your life – and all the Christmases to come – will make every moment you spend with your loved ones better, simply because the real you will be present.

Christmas is Risky

Christmas can exacerbate substance misuse, after all, everyone is overindulging during the holidays; and it can have devastating consequences for you and your loved ones. Arguments, unsafe behaviour, embarrassing displays of simply being out of control – none of this says Christmas cheer, yet all of it is likely to occur when you mix addiction and the holiday season. By recognising your substance misuse and seeking help, you can pretty much guarantee you won’t impact Christmas negatively.

New Year, New Start

Entering rehab during the Christmas period means you can start the new year as a recovering addict rather than in active addiction. It may seem a little corny, but it also represents a fresh start in the truest sense of the word. Also, the thought of celebrating one year free from alcohol and/or drugs next Christmas can be a poetic and powerful prospect to see you through the rough patches of recovery.

It Gives your Loved Ones Time to Adjust

The kids are off school, most adults have some time off work…the Christmas period is not a bad time for your loved ones to come to terms with the effects of your addiction and the ins and outs of supporting you in your recovery. Remember, your loved ones are also going to need professional support and will need plenty of time to reflect – the holiday season can provide a very useful opportunity to do just that.

It is the Best Gift for You

If you are considering addiction treatment, give yourself the gift of taking the plunge this holiday season. Christmas is about love, kindness, forgiveness and giving…so giving yourself the chance to live a joyous, contended life free from addiction is the definition of the Christmas spirit.

Sam’s DVA-Funded Drug Addiction Recovery

Sam completed 90 days of DVA-funded residential addiction treatment and the Transitional Housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

After I left the defence force, I struggled to transition back to society, struggled with ice addiction and homelessness, and eventually, with Hader Clinic Queensland’s help, completed DVA-funded residential addiction treatment.

I grew up in a pretty good family and was very sporty in high school. I even played soccer for two years in Italy, and it was my life. Then I joined the army. I still played soccer in the army, and we did pretty well but we also had to participate in these Boozer Parades where every Thursday we were paid to drink as part of ‘bonding’. This started my struggles with addiction.

I was drinking a lot, around 1.5 litres of vodka a night, but I was still functional the next day. I’d get up and run 2.4km and do my work, completely functioning. I got married and started a family, but things started to change when I was put on invasion. It really started to take its toll on me, and I became mentally unstable with horrific dreams and paranoia. I used a bit during this time, but nothing considerable until I left the army and moved interstate back to my family. That’s really when my meth addiction took hold.

I couldn’t move back in with my parents as they were struggling with health issues, so I ended up homeless for a while. I was really struggling mentally trying to deal with my PTSD, depression and anxiety that would come out in rages.

I was put into emergency housing, and at one stage had seven different veteran support companies trying to help me. Unfortunately, I got put in a really awful place of emergency housing. The whole time I was there I was afraid for my life, sleeping and showering with a knife. I got into some scuffles there, so they had to move me into another accommodation. I was sick of it, the constant moving and having to watch my back all the time.

I had some charges against me from associating with the wrong people but luckily, I never went to jail. Funnily enough, the meth kept me going during this time. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the drugs when I was going through all that.

I wanted to get my life back on track, so they put me in a soldier rehabilitation program where they pay for your study and gym memberships, but I didn’t come forward about my addiction because I was scared, so I kept it under wraps.

Unfortunately, my use really spiralled out of control, almost overdosing, and just struggling to maintain some stability. So, I just admitted that I couldn’t do it anymore. I was talking with my dealer who I’d talked about getting clean with, telling them that I just didn’t want to live like this anymore, and they recommended Hader Clinic Queensland to me. I called Hader, spoke to Jo who is just amazing, and she helped me organise everything. I didn’t even have to deal with DVA, Jo and JJ at Hader Clinic Queensland organised it all and I went to residential addiction treatment.

The first day of my 90 days at Hader I just collapsed and cried out to God. I was raised in a very Christian household, and I’d really lost touch with my faith and spirituality when I was struggling with meth. I don’t know what you believe, but for me, I found God again.

I surrendered and did everything I had to do during my time in the program to build myself back up again. The program was great, and I just have so much to thank Hader for. DVA has even been really easy to deal with, especially with Jo from Hader making that connection. I’ve been honest with them and with myself and it’s really opened doors for me.

It’s still early days but I know that I have my higher power looking out for me, and I just do all the work to keep myself going forward in recovery. The program works and I’ve heard some really good results from other people as well. I’m rebuilding my relationships with my family, including my son and ex-wife. My mum is really happy that she’s got her son back and I’m grateful that I can spend however much time she’s got with her.

I’ve been six months sober now and I’m loving life. I’m going back to finish my study and just catch up on the six years I’ve lost to my meth addiction. I can’t tell the future, but I’ve got my health back, I’ve got my family back, I’ve got God back, and I’m just looking forward to maintaining my sobriety.

 

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

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.
https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lizzie-shares-her-journey-from-private-school-high-achiever-to-drug-addiction-psychosis-and-redemption/news-story/a35da74405a4de4081f0bdc2ab8f90bf

Jaxon’s DVA-Funded Journey to Ice Addiction Recovery

Jaxon is over 7 months clean after completing 90 days of DVA-funded residential addiction treatment and the transitional housing program at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

I enrolled in the Navy when I was 17 years old, and did a couple of tours in Afghanistan, before leaving the defence force after 8 years. After my time in the Navy, I struggled to get back into society and assimilate. I met some people from the wrong crowd who introduced me to meth use. What started as recreational use began spiralling into addiction and moving into intravenous use of meth. Money became an issue as I struggled to fund my ice addiction.

I couldn’t go without drugs, which led me to a life of crime to fund my addiction. My health was deteriorating from the use, and I knew I needed to get away from the drugs. I had been sent to rehabs on court orders about 5 times, but I just wasn’t committed or in the right headspace and would end up using as soon as I got out.

I moved from New South Wales to Queensland to try and get a fresh start, but the drugs and the crime followed me. I got arrested a couple of times and things were really out of control. It was at that point that I was thrown a wake-up call. My home was broken into, and I was stabbed in the throat, almost losing my life. That was rock bottom for me. So, I reached out to Veterans Affairs, asking for help, and they told me about Hader Clinic Queensland’s support for ex-services people with the DVA-funded addiction treatment program. I called Hader Clinic Queensland and they helped me set an admission date. I then got permission from the parole board to recover with family in New South Wales while I waited to get into the program.

When I arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland I was sick, I was severely underweight and just a broken person. All my confidence had gone, and I found it hard to get up in the mornings. I just didn’t want to do anything anymore, but the therapeutic community in Hader Clinic Queensland loved me back to life. It sounds cheesy but they showed me that I was worthy of life, friends, and connection.

The program and staff were excellent and for once, I truly began to understand what addiction actually is. I never got that understanding in the other rehabs. The main difference for me was the introduction to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) which gave me something to follow when I left rehab. Every additional time I left rehab I would use straight away, whereas this time I had the NA program and three months at Hader Clinic Queensland’s Transitional Housing Program. It helped me continue implementing the program with accountability. I’ve now transferred over to the Hader Clinic Queensland’s Intensive Outpatient Program which has counselling and two classes a week to help me adjust to more freedom whilst still being accountable.

I’ve been stepping slowly back into life as I made the mistake previously of just jumping straight back into full-time work after rehab. I’ve just started working again, I’ve got the outpatient program, and I go to NA meetings every day. I’m feeling good, I feel well physically, and I’ve even managed to put on weight. I’m working on all the steps, trying to do all of the suggested things from NA, and I’ve got a sponsor. My gradual recovery through Hader Clinic Queensland’s DVA-funded treatment, I’m now coming up to 7 months clean and I’m doing well.

James’ Story of Ice Addiction and Recovery

Since completing the Residential Addiction Treatment Program, and engaging in the Intensive Outpatient Program, James is committed to his recovery and enjoys living a life clean and sober. This is his story.

From a life in the country to a life revolving around drugs… It all started off fun when I was socially drinking and socially using party drugs. Then I discovered meth, and it was all downhill for me from there on. I couldn’t stop on my own. Meth had me, and only a rehab could help me get clean. The first time I tried residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland I wasn’t in the right mindset and ended up leaving the program early. I thought I would be okay, but I needed to go back again to really set up a life free from drug addiction and start my recovery journey.

I grew up in a country town, I had great parents and I worked hard in the family business. My childhood was okay, but one thing I struggled with was feeling like I didn’t belong and always feeling like I wasn’t living up to the expectations of my family. I turned to marijuana as a teen, as an escape from my feelings, I was selling cigarettes at school to pay for the weed. I started to push away from my family as I struggled with school, and I only managed to scrape through Year 10 to land an apprenticeship. I was still playing football at this time and ended up living with my football coach after getting kicked out of home at 17. I moved out and went to university at 18, still playing football, but I met some of the wrong people there. Due to the poor income from my apprenticeship, I started selling ecstasy. This helped me have money and I enjoyed the party scene. I partied too hard, and it wasn’t long before my life started to become unmanageable. I got kicked off the football team, left my apprenticeship and eventually ended up in a bad situation that forced me to tell my parents what was going on.

My parents sent me away to work on a property to try and stop me from doing ecstasy, but I’d come back on weekends and keep partying hard. I had a good work ethic so I could always keep showing up for my work, but I ended up becoming a gypsy. Partying and doing drugs had become my everyday life. The drugs changed and so did I when I discovered meth. I was young so I thought I was just having fun and could handle it. I did have some friends tell me that I needed to get help, so I went back to my family’s business and tried to get clean. It worked for a while, I got married and had a family, but I ended up falling back into addiction and this time it felt uncontrollable. I would disappear just to use, and by now I was injecting meth, so my marriage was falling apart but I couldn’t see it because meth blurred my vision. When I look back, I can see I did some pretty awful things during this time. I knew I needed help, but I just couldn’t stop using. During a bender where I was just partying with random people and was awake for about 10 days straight, I ended up driving to rehabs, knocking on doors and just trying to get help. I ended up meeting an old fellow who gave me some tough love. He looked at me (I was a complete mess and had track marks all up my arms), told me to go inside, and I ended up detoxing on his couch.

I slept through my birthday, and a few days later I woke up and the old man had gone to the shops but left his phone open on a Google search of Queensland rehabs. I found Hader Clinic Queensland and pretty much booked myself in then and there. I booked myself in for the 90-day program but only did 60 days before I left against staff advice, thinking I could now do it on my own. I wish I had stayed and listened to the staff.

I went straight back to my fly-in, fly-out job, thinking I could do that and then fly to see my kids. I spread myself too thin, ended up relapsing and was back in a dark headspace, this time experiencing psychosis. I was almost 5 months clean and sober, and it went all down the drain, meth had me again.

So, I booked myself back into rehab at Hader Clinic Queensland. Even while surrendering back to rehab again, I could not stop using and used drugs right up until I walked in the door. Mark, the Program Coordinator, took one look at me and said, “Get in here and put the whip down”. The staff at Hader Clinic Queensland understand what addiction is and how addiction keeps beating addicts down. What I like about them is they have a lived experience, so it’s easier to hear it from them.

For the next 29 days, I really struggled to stay and my addict mind was planning to use again as soon as I got out of there. Just days before I was due to leave, something happened; I had a lightbulb moment, and realised I didn’t want to use anymore. I went straight to Mark and said, “Please tell me what to do and I’ll do it”. In that moment I completely surrendered and changed my mindset, I took on what the staff said and started to put an effort into my recovery.

Hader Clinic Queensland gave me the foundation to start my recovery, they helped me understand that I had a disease of addiction and gave me the tools to start recovering from it. They introduced me to the 12-step fellowships. They took me to meetings every night, where I got to meet people who were like me and helped me realise that I wasn’t alone. Hader Clinic Queensland introduced me to people who had been living in recovery, some even 20 years clean and sober and I realised that I could do it as well. That there was a way to live life without drugs.

This program was eye-opening for me, before I came to the clinic, I didn’t know there was another way to live, I couldn’t see how much drugs were destroying my life.

If you are thinking of getting help for yourself, I really recommend the long-term rehab program followed by the aftercare programs. I’m currently in my 3rd month of the Intensive Outpatient Program. With their support, I am doing really well. I still have days where I struggle but I know now that it will pass and the most important thing is I don’t pick up the first one, drug or drink. The program helps me to hold myself accountable, I have a routine and daily program, and I have peers to talk to about how I am feeling. I attend the morning check-ins and follow my recovery plan. I’ve also realised that I can’t drink alcohol as it will lead to me using drugs again, so I’ve decided to live a life of abstinence from it all. I’m feeling amazingly healthy and clear-minded. I’m grateful to have gone back to rehab and now being able to live a clean and sober life where I can be there for my kids, for myself and my family.

 

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

Jon’s Journey to Recovery through DVA-Funded Addiction Treatment

Jon is over six months sober and clean after completing 90 days of residential addiction treatment and engaged in the transitional housing program. This is his story.

My ice addiction really began during my time in the military and grew worse after I left. Then after completing the 90-day residential addiction treatment at Hader twice, I’m now over six months sober and clean.

I was deployed to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, and upon return, I started having issues with discipline and alcohol offences. My drinking led to marijuana use and then methamphetamines, so I chose to leave the army. I got a job in security, but I was having trouble interacting with the general public and started having severe nightmares, so I increased my methamphetamine use until I ended up hospitalised. I went into military rehab where I was diagnosed with severe PTSD and then it was a never-ending cycle of prescription medication.

I moved to a community with my partner which had a strong drug culture, and we were both alcoholics and substance abusers. As we were both pretty high-functioning, she had a job, and I managed the property. We were together for about 20 years before going our separate ways. After that, there were a few drug incidences and I had a breakdown, before ending up in military rehab again. There I found out about the Hader Clinic Queensland program, which supports ex-service people through DVA-funded addiction treatment.

At the time I was not ready to make the commitment to recovery. I had criminal charges pending and was hoping that rehab would keep me out of jail. I did the 90-day drug addiction treatment program and when I came out of it, I was sent to nine months in jail.

I didn’t use meth during my time in jail and managed to continue staying clean after I was released. Unfortunately, my property had been sold out from under me while I was in jail, so I ended up staying in rentals, first with an aggressive alcoholic and then a passive alcoholic.

During this time, I believed that I was only addicted to ice and so could drink casually. A few times when I was drinking with people someone might offer cocaine, so we would use that and then eventually someone ended up coming around and offering methamphetamines. I relapsed, injecting meth every day for about 2 weeks. At the end of the two weeks, when I was intoxicated and drugged, I got an email from Hader Clinic Queensland. I opened it, read it, and broke down. There was a number at the bottom, so I called them and was booked in for the 90-day DVA-funded addiction treatment, arriving in less than 10 days’ time. Hader Clinic Queensland then mentioned to me that I should do the 12-month program, which includes the 90-day residential addiction treatment, followed by aftercare, including the transitional housing program, so I did.

This time around I was motivated to do everything I needed to recover, following the program exactly and getting the best support I could. When I got there, I couldn’t walk 200 metres up the track, and three months later I could run it six times and do laps around the oval.

When I got to the transition house, I gave up smoking and I would do 5kms on the elliptical and then 5kms on the bike at the gym. I’ve been going to AFL games and concerts and just enjoying life. I’m feeling really good, and just thankful for all the staff at Hader Clinic Queensland.

The best part about doing the program for me was having the time to understand that relapse wasn’t the end of the world. It actually opened my eyes to the fact that I could come back and make another attempt to get clean. And just learning everything and getting that discipline back that I lost after leaving the army.

I still do the program; I’ve really changed my life around and am over six months sober and clean. I’m really grateful for the support for Veterans like me in Australia from the DVA and Hader Clinic Queensland, as without that I wouldn’t have been able to access the drug addiction treatment I needed once, let alone twice.

The photograph of this client has been changed to protect their privacy.

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