Recovery Story Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Our Son’s Addiction Recovery

Hello, we’re Michele and Ed – we are the parents of Lawrence, who completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation program.

We thought that we would share our journey with addiction, because, although we didn’t know it, we were also living an addictive lifestyle when Lawry was in the full grip of his ice addiction.

Our journey has been one of perseverance, of trying to get by. We are fortunate to have each other for support, as things had become overwhelming, grim, and unmanageable for most of the time.

We were aware of a change in the characteristics of our son – his behaviour appeared erratic at times, not the logical, kind, and thoughtful person who we knew. Something was amiss, and Lawrence had a knack of deflecting that managed to make Ed & I begin to second guess ourselves.

We have always been a tight knit family. However, when the addictive behaviours became a regular occurrence – a lot of disagreement and conflict grew between us over Lawrence’s addiction.

We were not completely sure what we were dealing with – Lawrence had convincing moments of clarity that would last for some time, and we thought we had had a reprieve.

Life would be as we had once known; our son and grandkids that we loved and adored could live their lives in a normal stable environment.

Ed and I thought we were doing things that were supportive and proactive to assist Lawrence in achieving his goals. We made the most common mistake! – thinking that enough “self will power” or education/information would be the magic formula to stop the merry go round.

“WE” just needed to try harder!!

Rock bottoms kept moving – surely Lawrence had had enough (we would think). Ed and I were emotionally, mentally and physically spent, there was nothing left in the tank. The journey had nearly broken us. We felt we had exhausted all our resources and the stress was unbearable.

Our working lives were affected. We juggled work and sleep deprivation, knowing that we could specifically hear his car driving around the neighbourhood at 2-3 am in the morning – we live in a small town and his V8 car made a distinctive noise.

We knew that he was either “coming down” or trying to look for more. It was concerning –there were the phone calls – they were scary – hearing from people we did not want to hear from. Also, there were other calls, from the cops, either arresting him, or coming around to our place to see where he was.

It took us a long time to understand the patterns of use – in the addiction cycle, the highs, the lows.

We were addicts in a way too, as we followed the cycle, followed the trends. To have a conversation was tenuous as we were always on tenterhooks trying not to pass judgement or touch on a subject that would create a scene or conflict.

This was our normal now, it was touchy terrain, especially with the children. We had placed our focus on them and their welfare.

The children had become a leverage that was used against us, and it broke us even further.

Our “normal” was certainly not normal at all. Our attempts to be normal grandparents were embedded in the addictive lifestyle. We tried to figure out ways to see the grandkids, to make sure they were safe. However, being concerned for their safety and welfare meant that we were enabling.

It was hard to stop because it was the grandkids that were hurting the most. To turn our backs and walk away was almost impossible.

However, we knew we had to try other tactics to get them to school, to have them washed, clean, and well fed. If we got too close or too involved, they would be snatched away from us.

It was a long chaotic journey, and we were all weary. There were times where we needed something/someone to intervene, but we could not find it/them.

We had become concerned for Lawrences mental wellbeing due to a horrific accident that sent Lawrence into a downward spiral where we could no longer reach him.

One day – Lawrence had had enough and decided to seek help.

When Lawrence was accepted into rehab, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders. It was nice to be able to go to sleep at night and not worry about where he was or what he was doing – or whether the kids were ok.

We have participated in the family nights with Olivia, the staff psychologist. We were involved when Lawrence first signed in down in Brisbane, we got involved with the Zoom meetings and read, “Am I Living with an Addict?

It was an eye opener. We wondered where this book had been when we were looking for any threads of hope that may have offered a solution. It was a relief to read it and know that we were not alone. It was also a relief to speak to other families who were in the same position.

When we visited Lawrence on the weekends at the rehab, we met other families who were visiting their own loved one. We got to learn about other people and their journeys. Until this time, we thought that no one else would vaguely understand. It was a relief to know other people had similar experiences to us.

Our relationship with Lawrence began to change for the better once he was in rehab. We could see that he was mentally getting better. His eyes became clearer, and his focus came back. That “dead” drug addicted look was receding. We were witnessing the transformation back to the person and son that we used to know so well.

We wanted to be there for him and support him the whole way. We could see the change in him, almost straight away. We wanted to be part of his recovery as we had been there under duress for everything that had come before, which was horrible.

To see the happy side of him come back, to visit him where he didn’t “want” anything from us, it was uplifting.

The enabling could finally stop.

The only time he had wanted to see us in active addiction was when he wanted us to pay for something – his rent, his power bill or food (there was always a hustle for money).

Lawrence was adamant that the Hader Clinic Queensland was offering a solution for what he was seeking – We feel it was a great choice!

There have been some wobbly moments over the past eighteen months. There were a few darker times when he could have possibly picked up again. The program helped him to understand he had a new set of instructions to work things out, plus we were here with him talking through it as well.

We (especially Michele), would talk to him about the 12 Step program, using it as a means of conversation. Michele quit drinking, has a sponsor, attends AA and does the 12 Steps too. We have become the transition house in a way. We try to follow at our place along the lines of the Hader Clinic Queensland’s transition program.

Lawrence is progressing with his recovery and continues to share his experiences, strengths and hopes with others in the community. We are grateful to hear such enthusiasm that Lawrence has when he talks about a solution to others that reach out.

As for us, we would encourage other parents not to give up. Try to stay and be a part of their lives. Try to love them as much as you can.

At the end of the day, they are sick people trying to get well – not bad people trying to be good – it’s your family. It’s the drug that has taken over, not the person. Encourage rehab and don’t enable. Help is available if you need it.

The future? We take it one day at a time. We try to stay in the moment. We follow a routine. We use the tools. Each day we try to be kind and loving toward each other, and that is including ourselves.

We are grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for helping our family.

Steve’s Drug Addiction Recovery

After being put in jail in his early fifties, Steve completed the residential addiction treatment program for drug addiction with the Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story.

Hey, my name’s Steve, and I’m fifty-five years old. I’m currently undertaking the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program. I’ve been a drug user for over forty years. You could say that before I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, that I knew no other life.

It all started in my early teens. My old man, who’s an ex-bikie, called me and my brother into the kitchen one night. He had some hash on the stove and he said, “go on, try it”. We smoked it thorough an old milk bottle with the bottom broken out of it and two knives on the stove.

So, my brother and I used to smoke hash underneath the house with Dad. We’d be up all-night giggling. We all thought it was bloody great. And that’s where it really started. Later on, I got into the weed and after I got married and started working a lot of twelve-hour shifts, I started getting into the speed and then got into the rock (ice), and things just got worse.

I got really bad into the ice when my mother died, and I’ve never really gotten over that. That was about ten to fifteen years ago.

My wife never got into the ice or anything. I got her into it about ten years ago. I wish now that I’d never let her try it. I was working in transport. We’ve always been pot smokers – and hash, and got onto the eccies, and acid trips. Had a crack at everything except heroin. I’ve always been a smoker, not an injector.

The smoking of meth caused aneurysms in my brain. I haven’t had them attended to yet but smoking all that crack gave them to me. It’s a good reason to stay off it.

How did I get to rehab? Well, that’s a bit of a story. When COVID-19 hit, the price of meth went through the roof. So, my partner and I turned to selling to maintain our habit. Then I got caught and sent to jail. I was there for three months and was offered the opportunity to be bailed, so long as I went to a live-in rehab, which I did for three months and had to wear a tracker on my ankle.

Honestly, I had no clue that rehab even existed – that there was a place that could help people like me. I just thought it was a way to get out of jail. Initially, I didn’t want to be there when I was in jail, but then I got there and started learning about the 12-step program.

I started reading the text.

“This is about me,” I thought. Being raided by the cops saved my life. The pain of trying to maintain my addiction through COVID-19 had planted the seed in my mind that I’d had enough.  Once I started reading about it, I started liking it – and then I started learning it. I thought, “I have to do this”.

And I did do it. And I’m going to stay clean.

While I was devastated to be in prison, I was relieved at the same time. I didn’t touch drugs in jail. I decided that I wanted to stop using for good.

My partner, however, wasn’t keen on stopping. Before we got raided, we were arguing a lot – we’d never been like that before. I said, “this has got to stop. I’ve had enough”.

I was relieved when we were raided. Yes, I was finished, you know. Because my partner didn’t want to get clean, it stopped me. You really have to both want the same thing in order to stay away from the drugs.

At my worst, I’d be collapsing to the ground and not knowing I had these aneurysms. I thought it was just the gear, that I was tired. However, it was way more serious.

At the rehab, I really liked Donna and Mark. It wasn’t all roses with Mark, I got myself into some arguments and I had to write a 500-word awareness essay because I coughed and farted at the same time, and someone complained. I can laugh about it now.

There were a few blues, but when I finished, I bought them all a box of chocolates and said “thank you”. They’re all good people and they are all doing a tough job.

My life is completely different.

A typical day involves getting up and going to check in. Then I come home and work in my two big sheds. I used to fix lawnmowers and motorcycles but that went past the wayside, and it all grew into a bit of a mess. I’ve been fixing up the yard and cleaning up the sheds. It keeps me busy.

I go to a meeting at 7pm, usually after tea.

I have a sponsor, who also attended Hader Clinic Queensland. He gives me solutions and answers to the questions. He meets me in the coffee shop outside the Hader Clinic Queensland.

My wife comes to meetings with me and is now clean. It’s fantastic.

I was about to do Step Four of the 12 steps, but my sponsor suggested to go back and do the first three which has been fantastic. In the rehab, you tend to rush them, especially if you haven’t done them before. It wasn’t until I did the first step again that I got a good understanding of how it all works.

I said to my wife, “I get how this works”, and she said, “Maybe I should give it a go too”.

She’s been through it with me. She was jailed for a month. She has been so great, loving and understanding. I couldn’t do it if she wasn’t clean.

Our kids are proud – they’ve never touched drugs and for that I am so grateful. I’ve never hidden my using from them. They can see that there’s no happy ending with them.

I am grateful and happy to be in recovery. I’m living a life now that I never knew could be possible. I have court proceedings ahead of me and I have still been able to stay clean despite the stress of this. Thank you to Hader Clinic Queensland for all your support and help.

Paul’s Addiction Recovery

After starting drugs at twelve and alcohol at thirteen, Paul started a journey of drug & alcohol abuse that would change his life. After completing drug and alcohol addiction treatment, Paul shares his story.

Hi my name is Paul and I now live in Western Australia. I’m 31 and in my first year of study doing a Bachelor of Christian Theology. I also work casually as a support worker for a rehab here.

I’m sharing my story to give those who are struggling with addiction some hope and reassurance that sometimes the journey to success is not linear.

My substances of abuse were alcohol and meth, especially at any time I needed to stay awake. However, alcohol was my favourite as it took all of my inhibitions away, and warmed me up to use Meth.

The journey to addiction started insidiously. I started experimenting with weed when I was twelve. That was all fun and games until I was introduced to alcohol at thirteen.

I LOVED alcohol right from the get go. I loved what it did for me, I loved the effect – it took away my cares, my worries, and made me feel invincible.

I would drink every single weekend. However, I drank differently to my peers. I wanted more. There seemed to be no “off switch”. I would be thinking about, and craving the next weekend’s drinks. As soon as I stopped, I’d be thinking about drinking again. I was fourteen.

My teenage years were essentially divided into two separate lives – there was the sportsman who was a keen footy player and the captain of the team. Then there was the life of drinking heavily on the weekend.

When I finished high school, my drinking increased. I played one more season of footy and then I gave it away and became a bartender.

I let go of all of my sporting fitness. At that stage I didn’t have a plan to go to university. I just wanted to have fun.

Working in a bar, my sleep patterns began to change. I’d be up at night drinking and then sleeping for the majority of the day.

This is when I started using cocaine and dexies to stay awake.

When I was twenty one, I got a job in the mines. That’s when I tried meth. I thought it was a party drug. I was pretty much hooked from my first time using it. Because I was working in the mines, it was easy, I could afford it.

I could also work my way around the testing system. I could use for four days, then stop for three and it would be out of my system. I did this for the eight years I worked in the mines.

A relationship with a girl got me tapered off meth. However, the drinking took over, as well as doing party drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and so on. Drinking was always a problem and got in the way of everything.

I was able to hide it from her over the two years that we were together. However, I knew the relationship wasn’t going to work out as I was unfaithful.

After the break up, I fell into a pit of despair. At 23, that’s when I got right back on it.

The experts talk about it being progressive and that’s been my experience.

I would get a new job or friendship group to dry out and start fresh. I kept using in secret. I figured that “if nobody knew, it wasn’t happening”.

In 2017, at twenty eight, I lost everything. I was unemployed, friendless, stuck with my parents and my behaviour was odd and erratic. My parents organised for me to go the Hader Clinic Queensland.

I had no other option. I knew that I had a problem.

It was surreal walking down those stairs into rehab. I thought that everyone was waiting there for me – I was in psychosis.

I was shy, timid and really broken. I couldn’t talk to anyone. There seemed to be two types of people in rehab – the expressive, outgoing, jovial sort and then there were shy, timid recluses like myself.

Fifteen days in, I had started to really detox and realised that thirty days would not be long enough. I extended my time, because I knew that if I went back to Perth, that I was just going to pick up.

I extended my stay to ninety days. It was exactly what I needed. I was still smoking cigarettes though. I have since quit those as well.

I did transition and didn’t want to go back home. I started a relationship with a girl in the transition house. I knew it was wrong, but I kept it a secret. This went against the rehab’s rules – even though I was doing everything else right.

Our relationship did not work out and my recovery went out the door emotionally and physically at five to six months’ clean. I was trying to hide my secret relationship and couldn’t talk honestly to anyone. I relapsed four days before I left Transition. I used for one weekend, then stopped.

Having been introduced to the 12 Step Program by the Hader Clinic Queensland I stayed close to those groups. I had my own place by then. I obviously got booted out of the transition house. My relationship started again. I relapsed again at 44 days. Then I had to come back to Perth. I was broken again. I didn’t want to use, but I felt like I’d ripped a scab off and reopened the wound.

I returned to Perth. I tried to stay clean on the 12 Step program. I was living with my Mum. Two months in I met a man at a meeting who suggested that I go back into rehab. However, I picked up again at 50 days’ clean.

I’d always run into the same emotional pain, so I’d pick, so I knew in December 2018, I had to go back into rehab – I had to attend locally. This rehab was a bit different, there was no smoking plus there was a support system in place where you picked up on each other’s behaviour. It was hardcore. I lasted thirteen weeks.

I had a family issue pop up, then I left the rehab and subsequently relapsed.

By March 2019, I was the worst that I had ever been. I was hanging out with older using mates. I didn’t have any self care routine. I injured myself badly as a result of the using.

At this stage I had this belief in a Higher Power, so I asked God, “what do I need to do?”

Something told me to go back to rehab. I went back to the rehab that I had just left on the 2nd May, 2019. I stayed there for a year.

Eight months into rehab I started reading the Bible. It struck a chord. I started to read it every day.

I got to step seven in the 12 Step program and realised that I needed a “Higher Power”. And that is how I found God. I was baptised in 2020 and started studying a Diploma of Theology.

Now I have been clean for two years and a month. Life is completely and unimaginably different.

Now I am studying for my degree in Christian Theology. I’m obviously still working out life as I go, but I know I have God on my side.

If I had anything to share, it would be “don’t doubt yourself!”, and “have faith that there is something better, different in life. You can live a good life free from addiction.”

Hopefully my story can help you if you are struggling with relapse. The Hader Clinic Queensland was my first real step in the journey towards recovery, where I learned about the 12 Step program. However, it wasn’t quite the end of the story and that’s OK. Keep at it and believe there is a better life waiting for you if you work your program and stay clean.

Lawry’s Addiction Recovery

The Hader Clinic Queensland helped Lawry with his addiction to ice. He bravely shares his story below.

My name is Lawry and I first shared my story just over a year ago. I descended into a drug using hell, trying to cope with the trauma of witnessing a terrible accident.

I started rehab at the Hader Clinic Queensland on 20th May 2020, and completed the full 90 day program.

After I finished residential rehab, I found it confronting enough just to be going home. I was lucky to stay in a safe environment with my parents and had the Hader Aftercare App to support me as well.

Given my personal situation, I was most comfortable taking things slowly. I used the App for three months religiously, checking in every morning with Olivia. It was like being in rehab still, but in my home environment.

My parents have been my rock. I don’t know how I would have coped without them. They have been nothing but patient, encouraging and supportive of me. They understand that I’m still suffering from the aftermaths of the accident. I am still in therapy to help me deal with things.

A simple thing like a workplace health and safety video can give me bad flashbacks. However, I am slowly getting there.

My relationship with my ex-wife and kids has improved too. I have my children every second week. It’s been financially tough, but I really value the relationship I have with both my ex-wife and kids. The opportunity to co parent with my ex-wife has been a blessing.

It is wonderful to “feel present” around my kids. You can see they have benefitted greatly. I have four kids, 15, 10, 8 and 3. My fifteen year old daughter was aware of my addiction but since I sought treatment she has been on board. We talk about things and she keeps me honest.

I haven’t worked since my accident. I have still been suffering with a fair amount of anxiety and panic attacks. Luckily for me, my Dad also hasn’t worked and has been my greatest support at home.

It took a while to pluck up the courage to leave the house. Addiction had left me isolated and alone. I knew I had to reconnect with others, but it challenged me.

This is where doing some meetings, and reconnecting with my sponsor helped. I also still do the Hader Clinic Queensland in house transition meeting on a Wednesday night. Initially I didn’t follow through with my sponsor, but could see the benefits of meeting older, cleaner people who had more time under their belts being clean.

I learned that I could be of service and have shared my story on government campaign videos discussing ice. I was also involved in a “Rolling Stone” magazine interview.

All the way along this journey, my parents have gently walked beside me in support.

Being of service and sharing my story has made me grateful for my recovery, even though at times the trajectory is slow. I do want to give people hope that recovery is possible.

Being at home, initially I was scared of “people”, “places” and “things”, however I slowly made progress by contacting old friends through the internet. It was nice that some of them wanted to find out about how to go to rehab. I told them that it was worth grasping onto with both hands.

Life, however, isn’t always rosy for me. I am grateful for the Hader Clinic Queensland as it has taught me how to manage high pressure situations.

For example, I had to travel to Brisbane for a medical assessment. The thought of travelling to that appointment and trying to escape the feeling of how awful I sometimes feel about the past was anxiety inducing. Had it not been for the support I have, I could have easily picked up as a means to cope.

However, I could see this coming – thanks to my rehab program I could pre-empt some of that anxiety. So, I reached out and asked for help. Dad came with me and while the experience took it out of me for a bit and I isolated a little, I connected immediately with my sponsor and saw my therapist.

That is what the journey of recovery has taught me – to learn to share my feelings, to ask for help and to be open with those who support me.

I am trying to give back as much as I can. I really connected with some of the DVA clients in rehab – especially on the level of suffering trauma. They understand how dark I got and it was relieving to connect with others who were going through and understood similar tragedies.

My recovery has had a ripple effect on my family. My parents are now at ease with me. They understand where I’m at and we have rebuilt trust.

I am forever grateful for the gift of recovery that The Hader Clinic Queensland has given me – and want to share that recovery is possible and it’s worth it. Thank you, HCQ.

Luke’s Addiction Recovery

Bereft, devastated and unable to stay clean, Luke undertook residential rehabilitation for his cocaine and alcohol addiction.

Hello, my name is Luke and I’m a recovering addict. I’m now fifty years old, and I was addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

It all started when I finished my studies at the University of Melbourne. I worked as an actor for seven years post Arts degree. I was in a relationship with a woman who was addicted to heroin. Our relationship was tumultuous and she broke things off with me.

Desperate to get back with her, and lacking self esteem and confidence, I agreed that I’d try heroin with her if she turned up at a certain location at a certain time. She never turned up and I tried it anyway. I began to understand why people use heroin, it just numbed the pain.

Cocaine was an accident. I’d scored what I had thought was heroin, but actually got cocaine instead. It was love at first use. I used for about 18 months before I went into rehab. I was 28, and living in Sydney at the time.

With rehab, I stayed clean for eleven months. Then I relapsed. At this particular time, I hadn’t drunk alcohol for ten years. However, I moved from Sydney to the Northern Territory and suddenly cocaine just wasn’t freely available.

Therefore, I turned to drinking to fill the addictive gap.

During my time in the Northern Territory, I met my wife. I stopped taking drugs. Life was good and I drank socially.

However, I was not happy in my employment, and to cope, I started drinking more, to the point that it was beginning to become problematic.

My wife was well aware of my drinking but didn’t consider it to be a problem. I knew differently.

I had a drive in – drive out job and I worked away for the majority of each week. While I was away, I would drink to excess, but from Friday to Sunday when I was at home, I didn’t touch alcohol. I hid my addiction well from my wife and daughter.

An unexpected family tragedy saw us pack up and leave Australia. My wife is from the UK and we decided that we’d have better family support if we moved there.

However, that was the beginning of more problems for me as my Visa to enter and work in the UK was mysteriously rejected. The process of getting my Visa properly sorted out was a nightmare – it took 18 months to rectify the initial mistake and in order to do so, I had to surrender my passport, licence etc for the Home Office paperwork process.

I was effectively stranded. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t get a phone or a drivers license. I was helpless.

To cope with this latest challenge, I started drinking again and then found cocaine. Meanwhile, my wife was working. My cocaine addiction spiralled out of control to the point where I was using daily.

My wife had noticed that I had cleaned out our bank accounts. She tried to be supportive, but as I slid further into the grip of addiction, my behaviour also deteriorated as she caught me telling lies.

She thought that I was having an affair, and kicked me out of the house.

I was bereft and devastated. My mother came over from Australia for a visit, and immediately sensed something was very wrong. I had lost a lot of weight, was trying to attend NA meetings and I was trying to reconcile with my ex.

I couldn’t stay clean. If was as if my brain was “blocked” when I thought of anything related to my using or a different way – I literally couldn’t find a safe space within myself.

My mother brought me home just as COVID-19 hit. We flew from Heathrow to Sydney and then finally to Brisbane. We were one of the first sets of passengers to be forced into hotel quarantine.

I agreed during this time to go to rehab. I travelled straight from Brisbane to The Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehab.

The process reminded me a bit of my first rehab. It was based on the 12 Step fellowship and I took part in the 90 day program. I had already completed some of the steps, but this time what hit home for me was that I’d been hanging onto the past.

I was punishing myself for situations that were out of my control. I had to learn to treat myself well, as if the rest of the world would treat you.

Of course, I didn’t want to be there. There was all kinds of internal resistance going on – I wanted to be at home with my daughter. During the second and third months, I started to surrender. I wrote letters to my ex wife asking to reconcile. I also had an ultrasound and discovered that I had severely damaged my liver, being diagnosed with Stage 3 cirrhosis.

I was devastated, however, when I went to see the specialist gastroenterologist, I was told that a mistake had been made and while there was liver damage, if I kept living clean, it was totally reversible.

At that moment I realised that my own self pity had been holding me back and that I still had every chance of a full and happy life. That evening, I slept like a baby.

After I left rehab, I stayed in Australia. I wanted to accumulate some money to right some of the wrongs I had made. I have always been known for (and proud of) having an exceptional work ethic, so when I returned to the United Kingdom to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, I paid my ex back the money I had taken.

Our relationship is over, but we talk, communicate and are co-parenting our daughter in a positive way.

I am concentrating on being the best dad to our daughter that I can be and I’m restarting the UK business that I had before COVID-19 struck.

I am grateful to all at the Hader Clinic Queensland for encouraging me to stick around and am looking forward to what the future brings.

My Son’s Recovery

Genevieve, a support worker at Hader Clinic Queensland has battled addiction. So has her son James.

Hi everyone, I’m Genevieve, and I am a support worker at the residential rehab facility at Hader Clinic Queensland. I’ve not only worked in the field of addiction for several years, I’ve also battled with addiction.

I’m coming up on two years’ clean this time round, however, this story isn’t about me, it’s about my son, James.

James did a thirty day program and has been clean, and engaged in our recovery program for the last five months. He’s also about to head back to university.

I’m sharing a bit of my story with you, to give some background and context. I wanted to say that I believe that there’s a mixture of both genetic and environmental impacts that drive the disease of addiction.

My son grew up with me in the height of my addiction, so he was exposed to it, and the drama that goes with it, warts and all, from an early age.

As an adolescent, he developed some mental health issues. He struggled with depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with Attachment Disorder.

By the age of fourteen or fifteen, James was smoking weed.

Eventually he went off to study at university – he was by now living in Florida, USA, with his father. During that time, he did two years of university and sunk from being an A student to barely, or if all passing.

He had become addicted to partying, weed and had developed a gaming addiction.

You could say that he was repeating a pattern he had seen in his childhood.

At 18, he was in and out of hospital because he had suicidal ideations. During this time, his father found out that he’d been abusing prescription ADHD pharmaceuticals, like dexamphetamine, as well as illicit psychedelic drugs and weed.

As fate would have it, we decided to intervene and bring him back to Australia when COVID-19 hit. To be honest, I didn’t realise that things were that bad. When he came back, he was clean for about eight weeks. Then he started using. This coincided with three to four visits to the ER and mental health unit.

His mental health was declining and one day he assaulted me. I immediately drew the line at that behaviour and kicked him out. It made me realise that I was in denial about my son’s addiction.

Being in denial about my son was enabling him – he ran with his addiction until I put up that firm boundary.

There was a week or so of couch surfing. I just couldn’t engage with him in active addiction.
Desperate, James called the Hader Clinic Queensland himself and organised his rehab.

Because I work at the residential rehab, I made a big effort to stay out of James’s clinical treatment, and my colleagues supported me in this.

I wanted this to be James’s story, not my story and I wanted to give him every opportunity to experience rehab in his own way.

I attended the Hader Clinic Queensland family nights as a parent, rather than an employee – it goes without saying that I enabled James by being in complete denial about the level of his addiction and he ran with it.

Once I set a firm boundary with him, he came to the conclusion he needed treatment himself. He was in quarantine for two weeks after an interstate visit – he was losing his life skills, his sleep hygiene was taking a big dive, basically – he knew he was unwell.

We both work the twelve step program. Again, with the tremendous support of the Fellowship, they made me take a step back with James – they told me that it was not my role to “rescue” him and I agree. If he is in trouble, I say, “call your sponsor”.

Now, nearly six month’s clean, he’s about to go back to university full time, majoring in social sciences. His lived experience and issues with mental health will enable him to help others.

James has terrific insight into why he picked up and found himself in addiction. Now that he is clean, the constant suicidal ideations and his mental health overall are more manageable. He is seeing a psychologist regularly and his medication is on track.

Our relationship has improved as he also sees me as a recovering addict as well as his Mum – he knows that I have to work my program just as hard as he does!

I’m proud of my son and know that he is proud of his journey as well.

James’ Addiction Recovery

21 years old James, who grew up exposed to his mother’s battle with addiction undertook our residential addiction treatment program for his own addiction. He is now six months clean.

Hi, my name is James.

Addiction, even when you’re a kid, is what I’d call a lifestyle choice. Being brought up in a home with a parent in full blown addiction is what I’d describe as being chaotic.

However, being a kid, I accepted that this is how things were. By that, I mean, it was normal to be awake for twenty four hours a day, it was normal that your home was dilapidated and that there was often no food to be had. Plus, school was pretty hit and miss.

As well as being schooled in the education system, when I  actually turned up, I was also schooled never to talk about what was going on, should Child Protection Services drop by.

As a teenager, aged 15-16, I started smoking weed with friends. However, the difference was that I was the friend that couldn’t stop. I started isolating myself and doing weed at night in my room, alone.

I didn’t want to care. I didn’t want to feel. I started doing magic mushrooms and LSD with friends.

Then I moved to the USA to live with my Dad and that’s where my use really spiralled. It’s very easy to get drugs there – and they are super cheap. Prescription drugs became my downfall. I was doing dexamphetamine pills, benzodiazepines, anything I could get my hands on.

I was away at college, so my Dad didn’t see there was a problem. Nobody saw what was going on.

I rationalised and normalised my choices as much as I could.  It was “normal” to take speed to get through an all nighter prepping for an exam.  It was “normal” to get cooked with your friends on a day off.

What wasn’t normal about me is that I needed drugs to function. Contemplating vacuuming my floor required me to use beforehand.

I started going to underground raves and started using MDMA. I reckon I would have fried my brains 24/7 if I could have.

I didn’t consider myself an addict – mainly because I wasn’t hung up on using any one substance. I’d use bits and pieces of everything therefore in my mind, I wasn’t addicted to anything and didn’t have a problem.  My friends were worried about me and voiced their concerns.

“If all these people stopped complaining, then I’d be fine,” I thought.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit while I was living with Dad. I decided to stock up on drugs to see me through it. I went on a bender and blacked out for four days. During that time, I broke my toe, shattered my bed frame. I was psychotic.. and embarrassed.

The drugs were making my struggles with mental health worse. Every time I used, my problems appeared to magnify. My Dad didn’t know how to cope. If anything he had the, “get out of bed, get over it and go for a run” attitude – he had no idea what he was dealing with.

Eventually the decision was made that I’d return to Australia.  My girlfriend was in Sydney so I went to visit her which was all fun and games until it wasn’t. I was rapidly becoming very unwell, binge drinking and doctor shopping – so her family kicked me out.

I went home to Queensland and had to quarantine for two weeks. I decided to ask around for amphetamines. I was offered something “quite different from other speed”. It was ice.

Well, that made me mentally ill, violent, psychotic and abusive towards my mum and girlfriend. They told me that they’d both had enough.

“Everyone is making my life difficult,” I thought.

Yet somehow in there I recognised that my life really was out of control and decided to come to rehab.

I did the thirty day residential addiction treatment program and I remember thinking, “how the fuck did I end up here,” while peeing on a drug screen urine test and lighting it up like a Christmas tree. I laughed at how surreal it all was.

However, the outcome was good – I did detox over a few days and came to learn that good rehab is about putting time between your last using and building new life skills. Just putting 24 hours of successful living between you and drugs, one day at a time.

I am involved with NA and have a sponsor. I take each day as it comes and always when feeling stressed use the “HALTS” acronym – am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed” – it’s easy for me to forget that a decent meal can sometimes make the biggest difference.

My future is looking bright. I have enrolled in university studies here and am studying Social Work. I’d like to undertake post grad studies and be involved in the upper management levels of AOD and mental health. Or research the aetiology of addiction.

Recently I returned to Sydney and reconnected with my girlfriend and her family. We have a lot of healing to do.  Likewise, I am getting on better with my parents these days too. We communicate openly and life is much easier for it.

I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for their support and help.

Bob’s Addiction Recovery

Bob is a recovering addict who completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential addiction treatment program. This is his story.

G’day. My name’s Bob. I’m 33 years old, and a recovering addict, who thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland, is clean and about to embark upon a psychology degree.

It all started pretty early, really. I started off drinking at the age of 17 and started adding drugs, specifically cocaine, to the mix from age 18.  At the time, I thought nothing of it – it was that drinking and partying rite of passage that everyone goes through, right?

Before I sought treatment, I was working in my family’s reinforcing steel business.  I also worked as a chippie renovating hotel rooms.

However, after school, I’d enrolled at uni and was just doing alcohol and cocaine on occasional weekends. It was an insidious increase in exposure to the point where the drugs became an “every weekend” thing and then three or four years ago, escalated to daily use.

During that time I tried to live “normally” but drugs stole my relationship, and my mental health. I probably had an underlying disposition to being anxious and depressed, and I spent many years on and off anti depressants and bouncing between psychologists to try and solve it.

However, my problem was that I was using to cope with life. I have had four episodes where I’ve been admitted to a psych ward and the last time was because I attempted suicide.

In January, I was living in the Hunter Valley, and was beginning to feel desperate. I was thinking that perhaps a stint in a private mental health hospital may slay the demons.  Even though I’d been before and it clearly hadn’t worked in the long term.

My parents suggested that I go to alcohol and drug rehab. I made a deal with them and agreed to go as long as they organised it.

This was the beginning of my journey with The Hader Clinic Queensland. I was admitted in January and initially thought that I was heading to a wellness retreat.

Put it this way, arriving at the rehab was a real shock to the system and initially I didn’t want to be there. I detoxed during the first five days and it took awhile for me to accept that I was going to be there for ninety days. In those initial days, I felt suicidal and desperate.

However, I resigned myself to the fact that I was in the here and now and decided to give the rehab a crack.

Once, I had made that decision, my mood started to lift. I felt like life was improving and that I was able to think clearly about my situation.  After being embroiled in the drama of drugs and alcohol for all these years –- plus losing my marriage and watching my mates get pinched was a catalyst to me deciding “enough was enough”.

I worked the program and once I finished rehab, I have continued to work the program – I go to NA regularly and have a home group and sponsor.

Moving back home with Mum and Dad has really helped. As well as being supportive, our relationship has improved in leaps and bounds, especially as our prior communication was once or twice every few months. They are proud that I went to rehab and I am grateful that they’re in my corner.

I have enrolled at Uni and will be studying psychology in July at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

If I had any words of wisdom to share they would be, “if you’re not ready to go to rehab, don’t bother”.

Rehab doesn’t work unless you decide to put in the work to make it happen. I have to work hard every day, making the changes I need to live my life clean.

Yes, it’s been tough, but it’s been worth it and I have the Hader Clinic Queensland to thank for it!

Sean’s Addiction Recovery

Sean completed our 90 day residential addiction treatment program for his alcohol addiction. Today he’s celebrating 22 months of recovery. This is his story.

Hi, my name is Sean. I completed the 90 day residential rehab program at The Hader Clinic Queensland in June 2019, where I received treatment for my alcoholism. After I completed my program, I spent eight months in the transition house, and finished in May 2020.

Today I am celebrating 22 months of sobriety. My life today is incredible – if you’d asked me about it 22 months ago, you couldn’t begin to imagine the changes I’ve experienced – and it’s all been for the better.

Leaving the transition house in May 2020 was a tad scary – as we were in peak COVID times here in Australia. It was scary because I wanted to be able to secure a job that I actually wanted.

As part of my recovery, I had decided that I wanted my previous  career in corporate mining– and I was worried about getting stuck in a dead end job because that was all that may be available, due to COVID.

With this in mind, I saved every penny I could when I was in the Transition House. It meant that I was able to rent a studio apartment for a couple of months and allow myself to adjust back to life on the “outside”.

In the meantime, I poured my energy in to looking for the right type of employment and as luck would have it, I was able to secure a position working for a mining company, in a role that I am very happy with.

Securing such a great job meant that I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment within walking distance to work. I needed two bedrooms as my daughter stays with me every second weekend which has been great.

Speaking of family, the relationships within my family are continuing to improve with every passing week.

When I was in the grip of addiction, I found it hard to take an interest in my family – but these days, without alcohol in the way I am getting to know my kids in ways I didn’t know were possible. It’s also been great that my ex-wife and I have been getting along well, which has probably also helped our parenting.

Twelve months ago, I started seeing a new partner. Naturally, I was cautious about revealing my battles with addiction to somebody I didn’t know all that well, so when she noticed I didn’t drink, and asked me about it, I simply told her that I did a “Dry July” and kept it going.

Now that we know each other better, I’ve gradually been more open about addiction and why I sought treatment for it. Occasionally, my partner will have a glass of wine, but these days I’m not remotely tempted.

Of course, the last twenty two months hasn’t been without challenges. Every now and again after a hard day’s work, I think, “gee, I could go for a beer”. However, I just treat that as a passing moment in time – the training and education I received from The Hader Clinic Queensland – helped me to put those thoughts firmly in check and is automatic now, like a non-smoker walking past a tobacco shop. Mostly I don’t think about alcohol at all.

I think what hits home the most to me is that during my morning walk to work, I often pass homeless people. As I got to this point in active addiction where I spent two nights too many on the street after having lost everything, it’s a wakeup call for me. It’s a reminder of how far I have risen.

I know that if I ever picked up a drink again, that would be my destiny – because it’s already happened once.

If I had any advice to give about rehab and sobriety, I would say, “just do it.”

However, realise that the journey is one of hard work and self-reflection – and that by putting in the “hard yards” you can live the life of your wildest dreams on the other side. Yes, it is possible.

The journey of recovery hasn’t stopped for me. I continue to evolve and grow as a person. I have a few sayings that resonate with me – “strive for perfection but know that you will never achieve it”, and, “be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be”.

I understand that perfection is not attainable, yet I try and strive for the highest standards in my life as I can. I am happy with that.

I am on day 9 of giving up smoking and with what I know about addiction through the Hader Clinic Queensland and tools and knowledge of how to overcome any urge, no matter what it is, I have found it relatively easy so far. It is a journey that I have contemplated for a while, and now I have the ability to execute this next goal.

Whatever It Takes

When we first interviewed Joe last year about his recovery from addiction nobody knew we were about to be hit with a worldwide pandemic. Joe shares his ongoing recovery and the drastic changes COVID-19 has had on his recovery.

I was in the middle of my Transition Housing program and concentrating as hard as I could on my recovery.

Then it happened. COVID-19 hit Australia and we all had to make drastic changes.

One of these changes was that all of the face to face meetings that I was attending as part of my recovery changed to online. Changing to online meetings prompted me to face the fear I had of technology. Because I did not want this obstacle to impact upon my recovery, I decided to stay in the Transition House for another month.

I’m glad that I did. I learned how to use meeting platforms like Zoom and mastered the HaderCare aftercare app. I did counselling sessions with Olivia, The Hader Clinic Queensland’s psychologist, online.

Little by little I started to get the hang of it. Once I was confident that I had mastered the technological side of things, I moved back home to live with my mother in Brisbane.

Yet, I decided to remain deeply embedded with The Hader Clinic Queensland’s intensive outpatient support program, and when I was confident that I was doing OK, I tapered back to being a regular outpatient. I still regularly go into the city headquarters for a check-in.

During the worst of the COVID-19 lockdown period, I ended up participating in two home groups on Zoom, and then they eventually returned to face to face meetings.

I was doing 8-9 meetings per week at that time and being both a sponsor to other addicts and a sponsee (having my own sponsor). This made me grateful that I had the opportunity to do things properly and give 100%, and then some to my recovery. I cannot afford to go back to a life of addiction.

Recently, I have scaled back to six meetings, because I’m studying full time. I am studying dual diplomas in mental health and alcohol and other drugs. My studies finish in July and we’ve covered all manner of topics from the basics of mental health to workplace health and safety, not to mention doing extra work in learning to deal with COVID-19 in this framework.

COVID-19 caused a lot of issues for many addiction sufferers. There were several articles in the mainstream media about how alcohol use escalated during lockdown.

From my own experience and from what I have learned in my course, can I say that this wasn’t a complete surprise?

COVID, for many, increased feelings of isolation and impacted on many people’s mental health. For example, some feared technology, like I did and became isolated, the loss of freedoms affected other’s headspace and not being able to meet face to face for a meeting lead many people down a road where they weren’t coping with life.

I am currently back living at home with Mum. We have been through so much together and we continue to grow in our communication with each other and respect for each other’s boundaries. It’s been an awesome journey – I know my Mum still carries some of the burden with my addiction but these days if we have an argument or disagreement, she knows that I’m not going to head out and pick up. We may take a few hours to work things out, but the main thing is that we come to an understanding.

I’m coming up to eighteen months’ clean. If I had any “advice” or “words of wisdom” to share, I would like to say that I had to forget about any notion or idea that I was going to fail at rehab this time around. Secondly, I am always working my recovery for myself. It’s what I do.

As cancer survivor and HIV victim, Peter McWilliam says, “you cannot allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought.”

With this in mind, and knowing how the addict brain works, thanks to my mental health training, I knew that I had to put 120% of my life into recovery.

Whatever it takes to be in recovery is what I will do. I needed to put heart and soul into my recovery as it makes me feel safe.

What does that mean? I know from sheer experience that relapses for me end in suicide attempts as my mind takes me to places I do not want to go to. My brain in active addiction tells me that I’m worthless and that I’m not worth fighting for.

I regularly travel to the Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential facility for “give back”. I always stay for a whole week because it takes time to get around and speak to everyone in the rehab – and it gives everyone a chance to warm to you. Most of us who enter rehab are broken spiritually and emotionally, so I like to be available to connect for a little bit longer.

Attending rehab, and returning to study have opened up a new beginning for me. As well as drawing on my background in Allied Health, I’m looking forward to using my lived experience and what I’ve learned in my studies to be of service to other addiction sufferers in The Hader Clinic Queensland Private hospital.

It’s important that everyone knows that there is hope when it comes to the disease of addiction. It took years of addiction and three suicide attempts as well as rehab to teach me that my calling was to be of service to others who are suffering the disease of addiction.

Thank you to The Hader Clinic Queensland for showing me the “way home” – and to anyone reading this who feels like there’s no hope, please rest assured that recovery is always possible.

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