Mental Health Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Living with an Addict During COVID-19 Lockdown

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

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

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

Be prepared

During lock down active addicts might:

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

Recovering addicts might:

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

Dealing with an addict during lockdown

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


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


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

Starting addiction treatment during lockdown

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

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


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

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

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

We recommend taking the time to learn more about enabling.

Online Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay connected

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

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

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

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

Where To Get Further Help And Support

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

Domestic Violence in Lockdown

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

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

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

COVID-19 & Addiction Treatment

In recent weeks and days, the world has been thrown into health and economic turmoil with the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

With businesses closing down due to either Government restrictions or lack of trade, many individuals have subsequently lost their jobs and are in precarious financial positions. Additionally, strict border control measures, both internationally and interstate, have slowed the movement of people and trade.

Health and medical services are being mobilised to prepare for the onslaught of coronavirus cases in hospitals, including intensive care units in coming weeks and months.

Access Economics estimates that current annual turnover for illicit drugs in Australia sits at $7 billion dollars. Unlike the wider economy, we have limited knowledge on how it operates, but understand that it is not immune to the disruption being wreaked by the coronavirus.

For an individual suffering from the disease of addiction, the effects of world events are amplified as both health and economic stress are compounded. These effects also mean that specialised treatment for addiction in the current climate is of escalating importance.

Here’s why you should consider treatment for you or your loved one’s addiction issues immediately.

The Effect Of A Worldwide Illicit Drug Shortage Upon Addiction Sufferers

An effect of a shortage of any commodity drives up prices and in the drug trafficking, it is no different. For addiction sufferers, it means sourcing drugs is more difficult, prices are higher and some sufferers may turn to crime and acts of violence to procure illicit substances.

Additionally, an addiction sufferer is likely to indulge in riskier behaviours to get their ‘fix’, for example, using unknown dealers and substituting other substances where the dosage window is precarious. For example, heroin users will often switch to fentanyl, however, it is difficult to titrate the correct doses and overdoses and death frequently occur as a result.

Entering into rehabilitation will reduce these risks.

The Effect Of A Coronavirus Infection Upon Addiction Sufferers

Addiction is classified by the DSM-V as a mental health disorder, however physical side effects that affect a sufferer’s long term health are commonplace. For example, clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune related health effects such as susceptibility to infection, particularly pneumonia.

Compromised immunity or other health conditions place addiction sufferers in the high risk category of patients that may become infected with coronavirus, with the known impact of the virus being particularly severe upon this population. Again, entering into rehabilitation with the goal of restoring physical and mental health substantially reduces risk.

The Effect Of Economic Impact Of Coronavirus On Addiction Sufferers

Many people are losing their jobs and other sources of income as affected businesses shut their doors due to impact of necessary measures such as social distancing and personal hygiene measures. This can put enormous strain on sufferers of addiction and their families. However, in active addiction, the substance of abuse is prioritised over the needs of the family. This has a knock on effect of creating severe family disadvantage – whereas if an addiction sufferer is in treatment, this is lessened.

The Effect Of An Overworked Hospital System Upon Addiction Sufferers

With an increased demand for hospital and medical services as a result of the spread of COVID-19, other medical emergencies, such as a drug overdose may not be able to be given their usual priority. This could prove deadly for an addiction sufferer. Attending rehabilitation or placing a loved one into rehabilitation reduces such risk.

Rehabilitation Insulates Sufferers From Stress And Teaches Appropriate Coping Mechanisms

Residential rehabilitation programs place the addiction sufferer in a safe environment where they can restore their physical and mental health. Rehabilitation teaches sufferers alternative behaviours that allow them to cope with crises and look after themselves and their families.

Rehabilitation also gives the sufferer the ability to source employment after treatment.

For families, knowing that your loved one is safe from the potentially deadly effects of this global pandemic and knowing that they’re learning tools to manage their recovery and life, can be a great source of comfort.

The Hader Clinic Queensland have put in place strict health and management procedures to ensure that client and staff safety is of the highest priority.


“Alcohol and the Immune System”. Sarkar, D. et al. “Alcohol Research Reviews”. 2015

“Modernizing Australia’s Illicit Drug Policy”. Wodak, A. Submission to House of Representatives Australia, from Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation.

25 Years of Recovery

Wendy, a Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program support worker has been 25 years in recovery. She shares her story.

Hi, let me start by saying my addiction recovery journey hasn’t been straightforward and I have relapsed on my way. I want you to know that relapse does not mean failure, rather, that it’s just another important step in the journey and that there’s always hope.

I have been working in the field of mental health and addiction for several years and also have ‘lived experience’ with addiction as well.

My story has been one of getting years of “clean time” up and then I’ll relapse. It’s a matter of getting back up and going again. My last relapse occurred after a knee surgery where opioids were prescribed for pain relief… then alcohol became involved… and next minute… relapse.

It’s just that underlying nature of addiction, that tendency I have towards it. Even though opioids were never my primary drug of addiction, taking an addictive drug as a pain killer was never going to work for me, it precipitated me going back into relapse.

I reckon I would have become addicted from the very first tablet I took.

It’s about learning as you go.

I should have disclosed prior to my surgery that I had a history of addiction and that I shouldn’t take opioid medication, however, my sneaky addict brain convinced me, “nah, you’ll be fine, you’ve had an operation”.

I don’t know what I told myself about the alcohol I used with it. That’s how quickly it snowballed.

I was managing four mental health programs at the time, yet addiction still hit me. The trouble was that I was able to maintain a good front professionally, and given my role, I found it very hard to ask for help. I’ve gotten out of control again.

You need to learn your safeguards and how to put them into place, share the warning signs and have a “safety plan’ in place.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate even towards professionals.

I believe there’s a strong genetic component underlying my addictive tendencies.

Once you know this, then learning to manage it, never letting your guard down and being vigilant is the key. You don’t have to relapse on something going wrong, you can also relapse on everything going perfectly right.

I’ve been in and out of recovery for the past 25 years, within the NA fellowship. I did my timeline with my sponsor when I did the Twelve Step program.

I can see where it all started.

I was eleven and I had some friends over. When my parents went out, we all got into the liquor cabinet. We all got intoxicated and very sick. When I came to, I thought, “I have to do that again” whereas all of my friends were completely turned off the idea of drinking as a result.

By 13 or 14 I was smoking weed, sniffing glue, doing anything I could do to ‘just escape’.

I had also been diagnosed with adolescent depression, so using was definitely an escape. However, it really started affecting my mental health. I felt like I could never get on top of it because I kept putting more (drugs) in.

This pattern followed me through high school and my early employment.

At 21, I got work with the airlines and worked with them for nearly fifteen years. I was an international flight attendant so that lifestyle pretty much propped up my addictions.

I identified as a poly-user – I would use anything and everything, just as long as I could feel that high, so I never had any specific drug of choice.

Throughout my addiction, I got repeated arrests for drug possession.

I also got some very heavy charges due to being in psychosis – I even assaulted a police officer.

I was deported from America.

I got married, thinking “that will save me”.

I had a child, thinking, “that will save me”.

I ended up stepping down from the airlines and with too much time on my hands and an unlimited bank account… well, it was a recipe for disaster.

I was fortunate that my ex-husband was clean and sober and could look after our son.

We would do drugs socially on occasion, but I was an everyday user, whether it be alcohol, GHB, cocaine, you name it.

I was incapable of parenting my son.

My ex-husband looked after my son exclusively from the age of two until he was nine, when I got clean for the first time. I can’t really remember anything during this time, birthdays, milestones or special occasions.

My ex-husband and I separated and then when I got my final arrest, and deportation back to Australia, he took full custody of my son.

I had Department of Children’s Services (DOCS) involved.

My son wasn’t allowed to be in my care unless I could produce hair follicles, urine and blood tests proving that I was clean. This went on for about three years.

My son is now 19 and my addiction has impacted him.

He’s been in therapy for a couple of years now. He finds it very hard to attach to people.

That important phase of me nurturing him, I just wasn’t there for it. I’d always push him away because I was high.

We’ve come full circle though, we’ve both been in therapy and he understands that addiction is a disease.

He’s doing well and he encourages me to stay in recovery.

He’s had a few issues with dabbling in marijuana use.

It all came to a head twelve months ago, when he attempted to take his own life.

He’s much better now, however, he has definitely inherited the family tendency towards addiction and depression.

With poly-use I do believe there are underlying genetic factors and your environment pulls the trigger.

As a little boy, my son would come in to check that I was still breathing. There’s been a lot of trauma there, which will take a lot of work to heal.

When I came into recovery two years ago, I had to start educating him because he was a lot older.

We really had to look honestly at the whole situation – how it had affected both of us and what we had to do to work through things.

My last relapse lasted eighteen months.

As I said, I was working in the industry and I held so much shame and remorse around my situation.

Relapse had come through a side door and I didn’t know how to ask for help.

It finally came to a head, with one of my best friends (who is a detox nurse at another rehab) recognising that something was amiss.

She came to me and said, “I can see what’s going on and we need to get you help”.

It was a relief, to be honest. I felt really cornered.

A message I want to give to people is that we addicts get very good at manipulation and putting up all these masks to cover up.

Since I’ve been working at Hader Clinic Queensland, I’ve seen more and more professionals struggling with addiction.

I just gave a talk to some of them about the cycle of addiction and it’s been good for them to hear each other speak and agree that we get very good at putting up these masks.

We still work, we still keep up this front, but sooner or later it all comes crashing down.

The myth of being a “functioning addict” is alive and well.

The reality of it was that when most people met me for the first time, I was high on drugs and turns out they didn’t really know me at all.

To them, my behaviours were the norm, so I could carry my disease and nobody would be the wiser.

You do need to be honest with yourself and with others and identify what’s going on.

What we think is manageable in the height of addiction… once you get clean, you begin to see that it was very un-manageable. We think we’re managing because we’re not as bad as others.

Drugs have cost me self-respect and my spirituality.

For a good portion of my life I’ve been a walking shell of a person.

It cost me my marriage, my son’s health and well-being, and of course there are the legal ramifications. I’ve spent many admissions to mental health units in psychosis and each time I’ve relapsed the psychosis has come back faster, and worse than ever before.

Clean, I’m the calmest and most loving person you could met. But once I put that substance in my body, I become aggressive, can’t stand to feel cornered and I act out that way.

Someone I don’t even recognise.

The best thing about the Hader Clinic Queensland’s addiction treatment program is the holistic approach that is taken to recovery.

While I live a really strong 12 step program and am getting better at working it all the time, The Hader Clinic Queensland also offers additional clinical support.

Some people believe that all you need is the 12 Step program to become well again, and for many of us, that is not realistic. And this is where having access to the clinical team, the psychologist and the psychiatrist are so important.

The therapeutic community aspect is fantastic.

I love that our clients share their stories and come and “give back”. We have a mixture of both lived and non lived experience on the team and both sides are equally valuable. Everyone brings something to the table.

I do love working with our Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) clients.

They go through so much serving our country, and it’s wonderful to see that they have access to such a fantastic program here. I love doing the Psych Ed work here too – in terms of treatment, The Hader Clinic Queensland has its finger on the pulse with up to date methodologies and treatment models.

Knowledge is important for us in recovery. The education aspect is intense but it’s worth it.

Sometimes relapse is part of the story. But each time it happens and you go to rehab, you’re continuing to be educated. It’s OK. It’s a good way of saying, “what happened, and what can I do differently?”

It’s great that The Hader Clinic Queensland has seven and thirty day “option outs” in their program as it means that if somebody relapses, they can come back and start again. Because relapse is a part of many people’s cycles.

We encourage our clients to get involved with, and really take ownership of our therapeutic community.

When they do, I can see their self-esteem begin to skyrocket, especially when they get their first buddy and they have to show them through the program.

It’s those little things that so many people take for granted. When your self-esteem and confidence is that low, they are the things that start to breed a little bit of hope.

I envy those who come into treatment and remain clean from the start, but statistics show that this often isn’t the case, so the experience, strength and hope in that message if you relapse is, “get up, shake off and go again, because you will get stronger each time”.

For me, as part of working my 12 Step program, it’s important for me to share this experience, strength and hope.

It doesn’t have to be fluffy, i.e. you’re going to live a life beyond your wildest dreams. I like to keep it real. The residents say after a few weeks, “Wendy, we know …vigilance, vigilance, vigilance!”

That’s my message.

If relapse happens to you, this is what you have to remember.

Relapse isn’t failure in the long term. If anything, it’s just experience.

The sad part is, when we do relapse, there’s a percentage of us that don’t make it back to chalk it up and try again. So recovery is a gift.

All we can do is move on and learn from it and remember, there’s often no trigger for a relapse.

In my case, I let my guard down, I became disengaged and stopped working the program – and before I knew it, the addictive behaviours came sneaking back.

Within our fellowship, we call it an ‘action’ program.

I can watch people come in and work the program like steel, yet the rest of their life is chaotic.

Our program is about putting the 12 Step principles into all aspects of our life, rather than just the meeting room. It all comes down to moral conduct, holding yourself accountable and taking action.

We addicts are all good talkers. That’s what we do best. The excuses we make to get our hands on a drug!

We had a discussion about it in group education recently – once clients realised the level they sunk to in order to procure drugs they don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It’s all about taking action which really counts.

With knowledge, we have the power to do something about it.

I’m glad that I can make that difference at The Hader Clinic Queensland.

The Challenges and Rewards of Working at an Addiction Treatment Rehab

Jay, the Program Manager at the Hader Clinic Queensland, shares a personal insight into the challenges and rewards of working with clients who undertake the residential addiction treatment program.

The Hader Clinic Queensland’s “whole person” approach changes lives for the better and while my role is often challenging, it is highly rewarding.

Seeing clients change is what gets me out of bed every single day. It can be very demanding, but when you see the positive shifts that happen in peoples’ lives, it makes it one hundred percent worth it.

It doesn’t really take much, especially in a supportive environment. To see that positive change in people, really makes it worthwhile and makes the hard days easier to deal with.

A particular challenge is when a client leaves rehab before they give the program time to start working.

Their addiction, their alcoholism, their disease is so powerful, it’s talked them out of the door before they’ve even tried to give the program an opportunity.

You just know that they’re heading back to a poor-quality life. That’s the hardest part – seeing them leave before those positive shifts happen.

Many of our clients describe their behaviour when first admitted into rehab as “intolerable”, “impossible” and “wayward” – and they came into rehab kicking and screaming and fighting the program.

For me, I don’t find this aspect of rehab hard at all.

Let’s face it, we are dealing with people who are really broken, whose perspective of life is really skewed, and this just comes with the territory.

That’s addiction. It’s never a surprise. It’s the norm if anything.

Because we’ve got such a great multidisciplinary team, we have staff with lived experience right through to the psychologist and psychiatrist, and we can always find that language that we can communicate with a person.

We can give them an understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing, why they’re thinking the way they are thinking and how we can get them over the line and engaged in their next phase of recovery.

That “early recovery madness” is really normal, it’s part of the whole recovery process.

It’s all about being compassionate and understanding, and helping them understand why they are the way they are. Every behaviour serves a purpose.

We look past that behaviour and we really begin to focus on what that person really, really wants.

That’s the other rewarding part of my job, where you see people come closer to what they actually value in life, once they’ve gone through that initial phase of detoxing and beginning to engage with the addiction treatment program.

They are usually completely different people to the way they present on admission.

That’s what we see with 99% of our clients.

They come in presenting one way – they’ve had to do this to survive their addiction, whether it’s denial, fear, resentment, isolation, blame, whatever…. When you remove all of that over time, you begin to see who that person really is.

And more importantly, they begin to see it too.

They often tell me, “I haven’t felt like this in twenty years! I’ve forgotten who I am. And now all these years later, I have to get to know myself”.

Often an addiction sufferer simply hasn’t had that space to allow change to happen, plus they haven’t had a group of professionals around them to give them that guidance, to provide insight to help them come to those conclusions themselves.

When they’re out there on the street addicted to the drama of it all their drug dealer isn’t pulling them aside and saying, “hey you, let’s work on those core values of yours”.

The changes that an addiction sufferer can make in three, six and twelve months is profound.

You see people at three months, six months, twelve months, two years, ten years and they’re forever evolving and growing, changing. It’s a continuous journey of recovery.

Definitely what they’ve thought to be true in the first ninety days of their program is completely different eighteen months down the track. They’ve grown up.

They gain more insight, try new things and challenge themselves. They become more connected with what they really value. Their whole world changes because their perspective on everything starts to change.

Basically, they grow into different people.

What they thought they liked a year ago changes. They find new hobbies, new partners, new careers, all that sort of stuff. And it’s all as a result of them learning to make better decisions for themselves, which involves the removal of all drugs and alcohol from their life.

We’re very focused on long term connection and support.

Everyone who’s in the Transition Program participates in a “give back” program where they return to the retreat and communicate with the newer residents in the program, giving them support and feedback through their journey.

It offers the opportunity to open up, get vulnerable and just connect with each other, because when they come back to visit after finishing their ninety days, they really have established a connection and bond with those who have just started because they can share and understand what it’s like to be in their position because they’ve lived it.

They can encourage those who are struggling with tips on how to get through the early phase, to give them hope that if they can just hang on long enough, they will be successful., for example, sharing “this is what I learned to get me through this phase..hang in there, things will get better.”

There’s a ton of reassurance.

What this also does for those who participate in the “Give Back” program is an opportunity to be of service to other people. One of the principles we really try and teach our clients is “get out of yourself, and think of, and support others who are doing it tough as well”.

We often get people returning on a regular basis to our Sunday NA meeting which is held on site. They’ll come and share their milestones when they get twelve months clean, eighteen months clean, multiple years clean etc.

They share a message of hope. These clients came into treatment broken with no sense of direction and their lives are now completely different.

We encourage everyone to stay connected. It’s all too common to see someone toward the addiction being so completely isolated and disconnected from not only themselves, but those around them.

There’s a saying we have;”the opposite of addiction is connection”. Connection goes a long way.

One of the biggest factors I believe in for successful recovery is having support. Once you remove that support, it’s hard to go it alone.

In rehab you have that support 24/7. Once you leave it’s important to maintain that support through fellowship and the like.

One of the other great components of our program comes from our family coordinator.

We support the family through their loved one’s recovery. It gives them the opportunity to learn some skills in how to support their loved one, but also how to put good boundaries in place. Plus, how to recognise warning signs.

As a result, both parties get a much better understanding of each other. They’re able to start to have a more productive relationship, just by changing the dynamics. There’s often a shift within families that happens as well.

That is a fundamental part of our program.

Not many treatment centres offer that – they focus on the individual and forget that they’re part of a bigger ecosystem. However, we see it as an essential part of the bigger picture. It’s definitely an advantage.

Overall, I think we try and break down each individual component of the program.

We try and work on many different levels with our clients. For example, if someone is doing “check-in”, it’s not only them being able to check in and identify their feelings, it gives some of them who may be suffering from anxiety, for example, a platform to manage those feelings and to learn to voice their feelings rather than retreat to a place of avoidance and non-communication.

Over ninety days, it becomes much easier for them.

What that translates into when they’re back in the community is an ability to communicate their needs better, rather than falling away and feeling like they haven’t got a voice to be heard.

You don’t go to rehab, undergo the program and get kicked out. Everything that’s done in the program is transferable to real life, no matter who our clients are, where they come from and what they do for a living, or whatever their financial or social status is – that doesn’t come into it.

All the skills taught in treatment positively affect all aspects of life.

That’s one of the most beautiful things.

Initially they come into rehab and really lack emotional intelligence. Over time you start to see them develop emotionally, where they can interpret not only their reactions to situations that come up but that of others as well.

It builds connection.

I can’t see any scenario whether it be family, employment or sporting club where this isn’t of benefit. They get lots of teaching, support and development of these skills to understand themselves and others.

It’s a most rewarding job, and please remember, there is always hope!

Breaking Stigmas of Mental Health and Addiction

What a loser, a no hoper, a junkie, a bludger. They’re a stain on society. They brought it upon themselves, why should I have sympathy for them?

Unfortunately when it comes to depicting the nature of an addict, it’s common to hear phrases such as the ones above bandied around to describe them. 

Such phrases are cruel and divisive and rarely prompt someone suffering with the disease of addiction to seek treatment. 

Most people don’t know that substance use and dependency disorders are officially classified as mental health disorders (1).

In recent years, initiatives such as World Mental Health Day have sought to raise awareness around mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with suffering from mental illness. 

Stigma around mental illness delays or prevents people from wanting to seek help.

While great strides have been made around some forms of mental illness, the disease of addiction appears especially impacted by misconception and misrepresentation – negative references such as the ones above as well as blaming and shaming do little to prompt an addict to seek help they need.

Here are a few facts about addiction and mental health and how you can help someone who is the grip of substance use disorder.

  • It’s not clear cut what comes first – substance use disorder or other underlying mental health issues. What’s important is seeking out expert addiction treatment that addresses all aspects of mental health.
  • Labelling addicts with cruel, divisive labels does nothing to help them seek treatment. Neither does blaming them for “bringing it upon themselves”. Instead acknowledge that they suffering from a mental health disorder and that help is available.
  • Support an addict with honest language that supports the person, yet acknowledges the dysfunctional aspect of addictive “talk” and behaviour. Use language that separates the person from their addiction. Avoid enabling behaviours. Tell them that you love them but will not support them in addictive addiction and the behaviours that accompany it.  
  • Let an addict know that help is available, there is always hope and recovery is possible, provided they are prepared to put in some hard work. Encourage them to make that hard work count by seeking expert help to assist in the recovery process.

Focus on what recovery entails and the benefits of freedom from addiction – strength, resilience, courage, bravery, perseverance, colour, life, service and connection are but a few!


(1) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Volume 5” (DSM-V)

How Healthy Habits Help Addiction Recovery

Taking the first steps towards recovery can be overwhelming and the transition from the chaotic life of using to a healthy balanced lifestyle may feel impossible.

However, embedding new habits into your lifestyle by allowing them to become automatic can help make the recovery journey smoother.

At The Hader Clinic Queensland, creating a healthy daily routine starts as soon as you enter our residential addiction treatment program. The staff are on hand to support you in building a stable framework for a better way of living right from the get go.

How daily routines help the recovery process

A routine can help give you a sense of stability and purpose

Maintaining physical and emotional stability is one of the most important reasons why you should have a daily routine. A known repetitive routine takes out the stress of decision making about the smaller stuff – leaving you more available to put your recovery front and centre.

A routine also creates a sense of purpose which leaves less idle time to think about cravings, particularly in early recovery.

A routine can help build self confidence

Having a daily routine that slowly incorporates simple daily responsibilities such as doing the washing and prepping healthy meals as you recover, creates a sense of self mastery and competence. Achieving small successes in establishing your routine will help restore self confidence. Living an ordered life support recovery.

A routine can ease anxiety and stress

A routine can help you deal with a stressful situation in healthy ways. The twists and turns of life can be highly unpredictable and maintaining a structured existence, including attending daily meetings, can provide an anchor that helps weather life’s storms.

Recovery routine ideas

Set yourself up for success by getting your morning off to a great start

The moments after you first wake up are an ideal time to invest in some self care to set your intentions for the day – you could try some gentle stretching, or breathing or even take a few moments to reflect on something you feel grateful for, before starting the day properly.

Move well and eat well

There is mounting evidence that suggests exercising at a moderate intensity can help the recovery process.

Moderate exercise can encompass a bit of “huff and puff”, but should not be excessive or painful. Choose an activity that you enjoy whether it’s a run, walk, weights or yoga.

Writer and journalist, Michael Pollan, who penned the simple, yet powerful, “Food Rules” suggests “eating more plants” and “less of the cereals that turn your milk a different colour”. In simple terms, aim to eat fresh whole foods – plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy and avoid highly processed junk foods which have low nutritional value.

The combination of exercise and good nutrition are important for mental health. And planning and preparing healthy meals and partaking in exercise empower your confidence in your ability to take care of yourself. 

Make time for a meeting and connect with others

Attending an AA or NA meeting can provide you with invaluable support from others who understand what you’re going through.

A meeting can provide a safe space in which you can be honest about your addiction with other people. 

Being honest with your situation is an important step in the recovery process and allows you to gain insight into your past behaviours.

Check in with yourself too

Sometimes you also need to attend a “meeting of one”- that is sometimes you need to pause and check in with how you’re feeling.

Allow yourself to begin to slowly feel the rainbow of emotions you may have been trying to numb by using – and most importantly, if this is overwhelming and you’re feeling wobbly, seek help from your sponsor, rehab staff or a psychologist.

Make fun part of the recovery journey as well

Yes, recovery can be a serious business – however, learning what sparks joy for you is equally important.

Remember that addiction overloads reward circuits in the brain, so it may take a while for you to recalibrate – as it takes time for the brain and body to reverse the effects of addiction. 

This means you may not feel much emotion initially – but persist, you will be able to feel joy again.

Mindfulness and Addiction Recovery

Where does the practice of mindfulness fit in with addiction recovery and ongoing sobriety?

Advances in the field of addiction neuroscience have piqued interest in the ancient mental training practice of mindfulness meditation as a potential therapy or complementary treatment for addiction.

Over the past ten to fifteen years, mindfulness based interventions have been trialled in the treatment for an array of addictive behaviours, including alcoholism, opioid and methamphetamine addiction.

Studies in the area of mindfulness based interventions have been promising with research demonstrating that such interventions reduce substance abuse by modulating the behavioural processes integral to self regulation and reward processing.

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is based on ancient Buddhist traditions which promote the art of “staying present in the moment”. Our minds are rarely still – the adage of being focused on several things at once rings true for most people.

However mindfulness aims to get one to pay attention to engaging your senses towards a sole activity.

An example of this is known as the “chocolate exercise”. It involves the subject examining a square of chocolate before placing it in their mouth – and feeling the subsequent changes in texture, tasting it, smelling it and listening to the sound of it being finally swallowed. 

This exercise encourages complete engagement of the senses – and teaches the addict that although they can experience urges to use, that they can respond consciously toward the urge, rather than automatically react in a maladaptive way (for example, use without thinking it though).

Mindfulness based interventions in addiction are often tailored to address behaviours specific to addiction such as learning to be mindful around cravings. Furthermore, mindfulness based interventions in addiction are also designed to help addicts cope with the stresses of every day life.

Mindfulness can be seen as a form of mental training that literally “exercises” neural pathways involved in addiction such the brain’s reward pathways which become dysfunctional during the addiction cycle.

Mental training teaches the addict to “rewire” their mental processes which in turn assists the addict to better self regulate their behaviour.

What does this mean for an addict in recovery?

Although the exact mechanisms of how mindfulness can assist with recovery aren’t fully known, the therapeutic potential for a practice that costs little is very exciting.

There are still several unknowns – how often it needs to be performed, duration, type etc. 

It is also still uncertain as to whether mindfulness works most effectively in the treatment of addiction or the prevention of relapse, however learning how to practice mindfulness no matter where you are in the addiction journey is another invaluable skill to add to a treatment/relapse toolbox for an addict.


Garland and Howard, 2018.  “Mindfulness based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research”.  Addiction Science and Clinical Practice.

The Complex Relationship of Addiction and Mental Health

Co-occurring disorders, also often referred to as comorbidity, is the term we apply when a person is suffering from two or more disorders or illnesses at the same time.

When it comes to addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, the chances of a co-occurring mental health disorder are alarmingly high.

People suffering substance dependencies very frequently also experience symptoms of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

In many cases the comorbid disorders are so deeply connected that it can be hard to determine which condition was present first, substance dependency or a mental health issue; however, unravelling the relationship between co-occurring disorders is important in order to design a successful treatment plan.

If you or a loved one is suffering from comorbid addiction and mental health disorders, it is vital to educate yourself and understand as much about both conditions as possible.

Yes, there might be moments when recovery seems out of reach but with appropriate treatment that takes all present conditions into consideration, it is by no means impossible to put an end to the suffering that come with addiction and mental health issues.

Co-relations between addiction and mental health disorders

Statistics show that around 50% of people struggling with substance abuse issues also present with symptoms of mental health disorders and that around 50% of people seeking help for mental health conditions also have a problem with addiction.

Therein lies the biggest challenge when it comes to treatment.

It is often seemingly impossible to tell whether substance overuse has caused a mental health issue or if an addiction has occurred in response to a pre-existent mental health condition.

This is why a thorough assessment of any potential client at a treatment facility is so important.

Substance abuse is often a result of people self-medicating to relieve the symptoms of a mental health disorder; in which case the treatment of the mental health concerns will almost always result in an automatic recovery from the co-occurring addiction.

On the other hand, when overuse of drugs and/or alcohol has caused a mental health condition – i.e. in a case of drug induced psychosis – it is very likely that all mental health symptoms will subside once a client has become drug free.

In either situation, it is imperative to address comorbid disorders alongside each other if a successful recovery is to be achieved.

Common co-occurring disorders

Mood disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety and panic disorders) are exceedingly common co-occurring disorders in people suffering from addiction.

However, some common comorbid disorders are less obvious.

Persons struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently co-present with substance abuse issues, as a result of alleviating their mental health symptoms.

PTSD-sufferers most often turn to alcohol to dull their pain; however, there are also many recorded cases of PTDS co-occurring with addiction to cannabis and ice (crystal methamphetamine).

The same goes for people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The socially debilitating symptoms of OCD are often underestimated; which is why many sufferers turn to drugs and/or alcohol as self-medication rather than seeking professional help.

There is also a strong comorbidity between substance dependency and eating disorders; often rooted in an attempt to use drugs to control and diminish appetite.

Ice use in particular can result in loss of appetite, which can be dangerously appealing for people struggling with body image issues.

Social stigma is a huge factor when it comes to substance abuse substituting for medical treatment; which is why an integral part of successful treatment is to understand just how common these co-occurring disorders are.

Combating shame is often the first step to making long-term recovery possible.

Treatment approach – Interdisciplinary/ dual diagnosis treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment, also known as the interdisciplinary approach to addiction treatment, means that all comorbid disorders are being addressed within one treatment plan.

As mental health issues and substance abuse are often so closely interlinked, this treatment approach has proven much more effective than treatments which address either mental health or substance abuse exclusively.

The aim of dual diagnosis treatment is to not only help a person to stop using drugs and/or alcohol but also to understand their relationship with substance abuse.

If a person is aware of their individual triggers, warning signs of cravings to come and their physical and psychological responses to triggers and cravings, it is much easier to develop coping strategies.

Long-term recovery requires a lot of work, but with appropriate addiction treatment and strong focus on developing individual plans for relapse prevention it is a thoroughly attainable goal.

Help is available

Regardless of how hopeless a situation might seem, help is available if you are brave enough to reach out and ask for it. There is no reason to continue an existence ruled by addiction.  You can start to reclaim your life today.

Signs of Ice Addiction

Do you know how to read the signs of ice addiction?

Maybe you have started to notice a family member or friend is behaving out of character? Something is different, but you’re not sure what it is? You might start to suspect that they may be under the influence of a drug, or combination of drugs. The first question is often is “which drug?” Is it ice? Are they showing the signs of ice addiction?

The signs of ice addiction

To help you answer that question we have put together a series of quick guides to help you try and identify which drug is being used.  This guide is about learning to tell the signs of an ice/methamphetamine addition.

About ice

Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, glass, P and shabu is a stimulant drug, that speeds up body’s processes, affecting our body’s sympathetic (flight or fight) system.

It’s usually injected, snorted or smoked, and is clear and crystalline in appearance, hence its nickname.

Signs of using ice

These physical objects are common signs of using ice:

  • Bags of crystalline powder
  • Implements that may be used to administer the drug. These include needles/syringes, glass pipes, etc. Ball point pens’ inner casings may be used as straws, as well as regular straws to snort ice
  • Aluminium foil (used to measure and secure an ice dose)
  • Cans with punctures in them may indicate that the drug is being smoked

Behavioural, emotional and physical signs of using ice

Behavioural, emotional and physical signs that a loved one may be using the drug ice, or under the influence of ice include:

  • Feelings of pleasure and an appearance of your loved one as being overconfident may occur.
  • Being unusually alert and wakeful. Sleeplessness is a key sign of being under the influence of ice.
  • Continual repetition of certain actions like itching and scratching. It’s common with long term use for a loved one to be covered in scabs that are a result of the ice user picking at their skin.
  • Rapid weight loss and loss of appetite as a result of overstimulation of the nervous system. The appetite is quickly regained as the user withdraws from the drug.
  • Increased sex drive. Your loved one may be engaging in sexual relationships with multiple partners or be unusually libidinous.
  • Dental issues – teeth grinding and tooth decay. With longer term use, the combination of bad breath, rotting teeth and inhibition of saliva (dry mouth syndrome) result in what users describe as “meth mouth”.
  • Sweating more profusely and that sweat being unusually odorous.
  • Lack of attention to physical grooming or personal hygiene.
  • Dilating pupils – with prolonged use of ice the pupils of the eyes may dilate and stay that way for hours, which a user may cover up with sunglasses.
  • Continual twitching around the eyes.

Withdrawal signs of ice addiction

Over a period of time, ice can become both physically and psychologically addictive and a user may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Increased appetite
  • Aches and pains
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cravings for the drug and irritability

These symptoms occur because the brain’s production of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which affects emotion and feelings of pleasure, plummets.
More immediate symptoms of the drug effect wearing off include:

  • Being lethargic
  • Sleeping for an unusually long amount of time

Drug induced psychosis

The most dangerous effect of ice use is the potential for drug induced psychosis.
High, and frequent doses of ice may induce ice psychosis. This condition is characterised by violent, aggressive or bizarre behaviour as well as feeling of delusion and paranoia.

These symptoms will disappear a few days after withdrawal of the drug, but its effect of “burning out” neurotransmitters such as dopamine, lingers for months after withdrawal resulting in the user feeling devoid of emotion or having a short emotional range of feeling.

Not all symptoms and signs of ice addiction listed above may be readily apparent, however with increased drug use will become very obvious.

More information

If you would like to know more about ice addiction and available treatment, please read:
Ice Addiction
Residential Addiction Treatment
Mental Health Effects of Ice
Ice Addiction in Women

Recovery stories

The good news is that with correct treatment long-term recovery from ice addiction is possible. For an insight into ice addiction and recovery please read these real-life stories:
I Was An Army Officer. And An Ice Addict.
DJ – My Addiction Experience
Our Son Is An Addict, What Do We Do?

Addiction – The Mother’s Shame

If motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster at the best of times, being the mother of an addict is a rollercoaster ride without the safety harness.

When we become parents we expect and anticipate a great many things, including tough times, tantrums and battles of will.

No parent, however, expects their child to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

No matter how realistic you are when it comes to your child’s flaws and struggles, addiction always comes as a shock.

The hope that our children will do well, ideally even better than us, transcends all boundaries.

No matter your socio-economic standing, your family background, your own relationship with drugs and alcohol, any mother wishes for their child to make it through life untouched by addiction and its many side-effects.

Unfortunately, addiction also transcends all boundaries.

Addicts come from all walks of life and their struggles are by no means a reflection of their families’ love or efforts.

Parents become aware of their children’s addictions in many different ways.

In the best case scenario the child admits there is a problem and asks for help.

However, many parents are not that “lucky”.

You might find drug paraphernalia in your child’s private space.

You may receive that dreaded phone call from the police, informing you your child has been arrested on drug-related charges; or from the hospital, alerting you that your child has suffered injuries or an overdose.

Some parents retrospectively recognise all the symptoms of addiction and wonder why they did not put the pieces together sooner. These signs include:

  • Distracted behaviour
  • Inexplicable emotional outbursts
  • Chronic shortage of funds
  • Refusal to engage
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Diminishing attendance and performance at work/school

No matter how long a child has struggled with addiction and no matter how this struggle has come to light, the aftermath of discovering a child’s addiction is invariably painful and intense.

Sadly, one of the most prevalent emotions parents of addicts experience is shame.

Shame at not having recognised the symptoms of addiction sooner.

Shame at having failed to prevent their child’s descent into addiction.

Shame at having a child addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Shame at being ashamed of their child, when “decent” parents would offer nothing but unconditional love and support.

When you are the mother of an addict shame can be your worst enemy, as it is shame that often prevents mothers from reaching out and getting help for their child and themselves.

No one wants to admit that their child is an addict.

‘No one wants to announce to a third party that their child is an addict.

No one wants to explain to friends, neighbours, teachers and employers that their child is absent because they are receiving addiction treatment.

However, if your child is to recover you must do all of these things.

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is not a matter you can handle discreetly within your own four walls, yet the impulse to do so is very common.

Many parents believe that they can prevent their child from using drugs and consuming alcohol by sheer force of will and through imposing and enforcing strict rules.

This is simply not the case.

If you want your child to get better, and there is no question in anyone’s mind that you do, it is essential to seek professional help.

Put your shame aside.

When you contact a rehabilitation facility, no one will judge you.

When you get your child admitted at residential treatment, no one will look down on you.

When you attend family therapy sessions, no one will blame you for your child’s addiction.

In fact, you might be surprised at the amount of support you will receive.

Yes, substance dependency first and foremost affects the addict.

However, their families are affected just as deeply, albeit in different ways.

If you overcome your shame and seek help for your child, you will get help as well.

Family therapy is an integral part of addiction treatment and family counsellors are intimately acquainted with the emotional war addiction wages on all parties involved.

No matter how alone you feel, drug treatment professionals have seen it all before.

It might seem hard to believe, but many parents of addicts feel the weight of their shame lifted off their shoulders as soon as the addiction treatment process begins.

If you are the mother of a child struggling with addiction and are overcome with shame, hear this:

  • Everything you are feeling is normal
  • You are not the first parent to experience this, nor will you be the last
  • This is not your fault
  • Addiction can happen in any family
  • Help is available

Take a deep breath.

Pick up the phone.

Yes, the road ahead is rocky and treacherous, but it is not going to be a walk of shame.

If you are willing to support your child through this struggle, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Related articles

Women’s Addiction Treatment
Addiction – The Mother’s Guilt
I’m a mother, wife and daughter of addicts
Our son is an addict. What do we do?
Nature or Nature? What Causes Addiction?
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction – A Parent’s Story
Establishing Family Boundaries
Are You An Enabler?
Family Therapy
Addiction Treatment

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