Recovery Story Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Mick’s Addiction Recovery

Mick completed residential addiction treatment and then relapsed. He asked for help and entered rehab again. This is his story.

My name is Mick. I’ve told my story a couple of times for the Hader Clinic Queensland, but this one will be different.

Recently, I decided I’m going to write a book – I’ve always wanted to. It’s going to be about “the 10 people you meet in Australia”. Which of the 10 am I? I’m the storyteller.

This is the story about my relapse: leaving rehab, relapsing, asking for help and entering rehab again, and life now.

In rehab, I learned to surrender. Surrender is the first thing, and I really had to dig deep to surrender to the fact that I had a problem. And, that there was a solution.

I went through my whole life rebounding off one problem to the next. I never actually solved any of them, but the program taught me that there’s a solution if we learn to look for it.

When I left the rehab, I didn’t look at myself any different. I didn’t perceive anyone else to be different. I noticed a lot more of what had happened in my life, and I had a lot more compassion and empathy for others.

I could identify a lot more with people because I understood they were probably in the grips of some problem they’d repressed.

When I left, I knew I had a program that was going to keep me clean.

But I stopped working the program. I disconnected.

It was a slow progression. I stopped reading the literature. I stopped going to meetings.

I had my niece move in with me. She’s still in addiction. She smokes pot, and now uses speed.

She was smoking around me all the time, and I refused dozens of times, but one day I thought, why not? I was sick of smelling it. Everyone in the building was smoking pot. I had resisted for so long, and I got a bit resentful. The company I was working for wouldn’t give me more hours. I was getting 2 hours a day. I just got resentful.

Plus, there were my fears too. I asked them for more work, and they said yes, we’ll give you some more, but that was the end of that conversation, and nothing happened.

It was my own fault for not speaking out. I should have kept pushing.

There’s a multitude of things I did wrong.

But I’ve learned from that. I know where I went wrong, and I know what to do next time.

When I did seek help, I rang Olivia.

I can’t even remember that day. I can’t remember ringing Olivia. I was stoned and drunk. She told me when I was here, during one of the last check-ins, that I had rung her up crying. I don’t really remember. I guess I suppressed it. I’ve suppressed a lot of things in my life.

She got me back into the program. I did the full 90 days again, and then 9 months in transition.

It was less daunting going back the second time. I knew what was expected of me. I knew the daily program. I could tell you exactly what the routine was for the daily program.

Hayden told me on the phone before I arrived at rehab “There are no expectations from anyone – not from the staff, and so there should be no expectations from you. You’re not being judged. So don’t judge yourself.”

That was probably the best thing he could have said to me, that yeah okay you messed up, but no one’s going to judge you.

I went up there without guilt. I was guilty but without shame and remorse.

When I got to the rehab, Mark greeted me. I walked down the steps and he looked up at me. He looked at me as if he were meeting a different person. It wasn’t like “Woah you’re back again” – he already knew I was coming, but he didn’t make a big deal about it.

When I unpacked my bags and went through them, he said, “You’re under no illusion that you’re gonna be judged. We’re not going to expect anything from you.”

I got a bit of an idea that he, Hayden, and Mel had had a conversation about how to start me off.

I think that was the greatest help for me. I went into the program as if I was new again.

Being at rehab again, I could be open with everyone and say I messed up, and that I will try and do things differently. That was my motto.

I am going to do things differently. I will do things differently.

I learned that I had to tackle my mental health first. The first time, I thought I had to “stay clean”, but unbeknownst to me, it was my mental health I had to work on the most.

I had to fix my mentality, the way I looked at things. I had to work on that before I really tackled my addiction.

I do it now. I do it all the time. I live in a boarding house with people who aren’t really the cleanest. There are always dirty dishes in the sink, always bins full. I’ve got to learn to live with that. I can’t let that override my mental health. I have to find ways to deal with that.

My way of dealing with it is to just ignore it. If I take it on board, it’ll eat away at me. The building owner said to me one day, “If you have any problems, just text me and I’ll deal with them. Don’t you deal with them”.

I think he sort of read my mind. I do that now. I hand it over to my higher power and I give it to someone else. It works itself out in the end.

It’s funny how this program works – they put people in your life that are there to help you too.

My boss understands my situation, and he doesn’t drink either.

I had been working at a restaurant in South bank. I was a floor attendee on Friday and Saturday nights. It got to a point where it became too much for me. I couldn’t handle people being drunk around me. So, I rang my boss up and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”

He goes, “I’ll put you in another place.”

I ended up taking a month off to recover and reset. When I was ready, he asked me if I’d like to do the same job, but working for a fine dining restaurant. I said yes.

I had fears about it – the first night I went there, I enjoyed it. The second time, I enjoyed it. I don’t resent going there. That’s what was happening at my old work – I resented going there, because I knew it was going to play on my mind, these young people, just making a mess and not caring.

I have a life now. I don’t sit around at home. Life’s better now. I’m free.

This week, when I finished work, I went home, had a shower, and I jumped on the train and went to the Gold Coast. I went for a swim. I did this two days in a row.

I do things now, instead of sitting around and becoming complacent. That’s what happened last time; I sat around and became complacent.

I go and do things. I buy things that interest me and that I can use. Like the gold detector. I usually just find crap jewellery, but it’s a bit of fun. I’ve got fishing rods, so I go off and go fishing. I recently bought a video camera.

Staying clean is my main priority. I’ve got to find solutions, and for me that’s staying busy, not becoming complacent, and finding hobbies.

That’s what I’ve done differently this time. I’ve got a life outside recovery.

I do go to meetings. I like to mix up the meetings I attend to keep it interesting.

Sometimes, I walk into those meetings full of fear and doubt, but the moment someone smiles at me or talks to me, my perception changes of why I’m there. I’ve got no fear anymore.

Life’s good. I’m living.

Michael’s Addiction Recovery

After returning from Afghanistan, Michael turned to ice to cope with his feelings of isolation. Then he completed residential addiction treatment and is looking forward to becoming a dad. This is his story.

My name is Michael. At the time of doing this interview with the Hader Clinic Queensland, my partner could be about to deliver our baby girl at any moment. She was due yesterday, so I’m anticipating a call soon. I’m so excited. We’ll be meeting our daughter soon.

I never thought I’d be a dad. Two years ago, I was in the midst of battling my ice addiction, and the only thing on my mind was ice… finding it, getting it, and making sure my supply didn’t run out.

I grew up in a small, quiet town in Victoria. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly close with my family. Really, I was a little arsehole to my parents.

When I was 19, I joined the army. I basically moved from the bottom of Australia all the way up to Darwin. As a kid, that was unreal. I found myself on the other side of Australia, which is like here but hotter.

I mostly enjoyed it.  Did it for 9 years, so obviously, there was something I liked about it. The last few years, when I got back from Afghanistan, were not great.

There was really nothing like Afghanistan.

That’s where my PTSD comes from.

The community within the army was really awesome. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of my mental health issues was isolating myself. I pulled away when I was with that community.

In 2013, I arrived back from Afghanistan, and I wasn’t doing well. I was seeing doctors and psychologists, spending time in and out of mental wards… it was a difficult time. I was isolating myself.

I didn’t really go to my family for help or to talk about any of it. I was by myself, really struggling.

Before the ice, I had used other substances. I’ve smoked marijuana, done cocaine a couple of times, and drank too much. I went from “drinking too much” to full-blown ice addiction.

I’d just been fired, had a relationship breakdown, and was already in and out of the hospital with mental health stuff going on. I had pretty severe anxiety and depression. A little bit of PTSD too.

My family knew I was struggling and tried to get me to move back a little closer to them. I still isolated myself.

The ice use didn’t start until I was well and truly “by myself”.

A complete stranger offered it to me. I didn’t hesitate when I said “yes”. A year before, if someone had offered it to me, I probably would have said no. But I was by myself and having a really hard time – it honestly looked like fun.

The first time I tried it, it gave me psychosis. There was maybe half an hour of relief from everything – really noticeable relief. I instantly became sociable, less anxious, was in a great mood, and felt energetic. It was an instant fix to everything.

From the first time I used, I didn’t stop for about 6 months. All I was thinking was just, “I don’t want to run out of this.” Procuring it was a constant battle, trying to find it and always have it.

Apart from the relief, there was severe paranoia and proper psychosis – I was experiencing actual proper fear. There was real terror… but then relief from that by using. It was a vicious cycle. There were good periods where it would help you ignore all of that, but it created all of that as well.

There were maybe three times I wanted to stop. In moments where I didn’t have any, I would start realising what it was doing to me. I thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.

I was on the phone trying to figure out how to stop, and then realising I can’t find out how to stop. I didn’t know how.

I was googling rehabs, I was googling drug and alcohol counsellors. I do remember Narcotics Anonymous coming up, but didn’t really think much about it.

My family knew I was using. They didn’t know what to do – I’d disappear for months at a time – but they wanted to help get me into rehab.

Eventually, they got in contact with Jay at the Hader Clinic Queensland.

I was amazed. He had had experience with substance abuse and explained what happened to him – gave me his life story. That was the very first time I had met an addict who had stopped.

It was a relief to hear Jay’s story. I’d never heard of that (recovering). Everyone knows someone who uses or has a problem with substances, but no one knows you can stop. That’s sort of like a fairy-tale.

I wasn’t hopeful for myself, but I was amazed to hear someone who had done it.

Jay said he could get me into rehab to help me, and I sort of thought, I don’t have any other options. I believed in what Jay said, so I went.

When I arrived at the residential rehab, I was just going through the motions. I was too tired to argue. I thought “may as well, got nothing else going on”.

Originally, I was going to do 30 days, but after maybe 30 arguments with the staff and my family, they convinced me to stay another 30 days.

At the end of 60 days, I decided to continue on to 90 days, and thought, maybe I should do outpatients too.

To be honest, in the first 30 days I “didn’t have a problem”. I hadn’t acknowledged that yet. It wasn’t until about 80 days in that things started clicking for me.

I was getting to the end of the program thinking, okay, I’m going to be coming out of here, going back to Victoria. My brain was going, right, so you’ll get off the plane, get on the train, but before you get on the train, you’re going to have to go to South Yarra… I need to get more meth for the train ride home.

And I thought, “oh”.

I realised that after 80 days of talking about my substance abuse problem, I still had a soft plan to use again. That was the moment I said to myself, “I might have a problem. I need to do something about it.”

Rehab was really hard.

I was still really suffering from psychosis, even after I had stopped using. I had that going on and was thinking, if this is going to be my life forever, I may as well keep using.

I had to ask for help.

I had to talk about my feelings.

I had to talk about my past.

I had to socialise with others.

I had to cook for myself.

I had to keep something tidy.

I had to wake up at the same time every day.

I had to go to class.

I honestly hated rehab.

I was still isolating myself too – I thought “No one knows what I’ve been through, no one can relate”.

Finishing up at rehab, I was in a great mood. I was really excited to be doing the transitional housing program. I could live in sunny Queensland, maybe go to the beach and surf, be away from all the shit in Victoria, and most importantly, I wouldn’t be allowed drugs or alcohol.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without rehab, even if it was really hard. But if I hadn’t completed the transitional housing program, I wouldn’t have made it this far either.

There were some hard lessons I needed to learn, and if I hadn’t been in the transition house being held accountable, I really would have fallen backwards.

When I told my family I was doing transition and wasn’t coming home to Victoria, they were like “Why?! He’s disappearing again”. But I admitted to them, I really have a problem and I want to stay up here to do something about it.

That was the first time I had admitted I have a problem, and hearing that, they were very happy for me to stay up here.

Narcotics Anonymous has been awesome. Most of my closest friends are in the rooms with me. I’m not isolated anymore.

Doing the drug testing, doing the “musts” of the program, and being held accountable was really great for me. I needed it, and I was glad it was pen and paper, and “I’m doing what I’m saying I’ll do”.

I talk to my family much more often now. I mended a lot of those relationships. There were some that hadn’t been there at all but now are, some on the mend, and I have a way better relationship with my parents now.

Now, I’m about to become a dad. My partner was supposed to deliver yesterday, but that didn’t happen. It’ll be any moment now.

I’m excited and nervous. It’s going to be a little baby girl.

My partner and I met through the rooms (group meetings)– when I was halfway through transition.

We both deeply understand that experience and the importance of doing something about it.

We encourage each other lots through our step work, but don’t focus too much on our trauma. We’ve got bigger and better things to focus on now.

Jayda’s Addiction Recovery

Caught in a terrible cycle of using ice, Jayda began to lose friendships, do things she’d regret, and cause herself physical harm. Then she completed a thirty-day residential rehabilitation program at the Hader Clinic Queensland. This is her story.

Warning: This story includes recollections around topics such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and physical violence. We acknowledge that this content may be difficult for some readers. If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or DV Connect on 1800 811 811.

My name is Jayda. However, I started life with a different name, Gilberte.

You’d think that having lived experience of addiction and being clean for twelve years would mean that you had any issues with drugs or alcohol nailed. Think again!

My story starts as a Lebanese kid, growing up as the eldest of five in what was a loving family home in Sydney. I started smoking ciggies when I was nine – it was culturally accepted and went well with our Lebanese coffee.

We went to Catholic private school and life was pretty good up until I was about 11. That was when my father’s best friend raped me. My father knew nothing of it, however my mother did, and rather than protect me, she slapped me and told me to remain silent.

In Year 11, I found a traineeship as a bookkeeper. This didn’t last long as I became a fashion model for labels like Kerry McGee and Charlie Brown. This industry is where I met my first husband, who was a fashion designer.

He was 17 years older than me, the same age as my mother. He also had a Lebanese-Syrian background and we started talking one evening after a show. When he found out I was Lebanese, he told me that he would go to my parents and ask for my hand in marriage, and that he no longer wanted me to work onstage.

I explained to him that I was working to help provide for my family and two days later I had a brand new Honda Prelude and $20,000 deposited into my bank account.

At the insistence of my mother, I reluctantly agreed to get married. I figured that this was an easier way to support my family, and how hard could it be? However, it was way harder than I thought. My mother in law even hung around outside our bridal suite to ensure that I was a virgin on my wedding night. Even thinking about what I had to do freaked me out.

Within a year of our wedding I had my first son. My husband was malicious and both physically and mentally abusive toward me.

One day my father said to me, “you cannot keep hiding the truth from me – surely there aren’t any more cupboards to run into at home – do you think I’m stupid?” I told my Dad the truth and he helped me to leave my toxic marriage. One day, I was driving my sisters somewhere and they asked me if I was “really, truly leaving” him. My response was, “of course, why?” They then disclosed to me that my ex husband would sexually assault them on the weekends when I was out doing the groceries as I would pick them up every Friday after school.

My world was shattered.

Eventually I got married to a Russian bloke who I’d been mates with for years. Being married to him produced another son, but things weren’t much better in this marriage either. I left him, as a Lebanese single mother of two – how was I going to provide for my family? I didn’t want to sell my Sydney properties because I couldn’t afford the mortgages, so I started a nail salon and had eleven Vietnamese workers helping me.

I also worked teaching belly dancing to Islamic women in a private hall. They used to tell me they loved taking their scarves off and being free – which I loved. I also worked as DJ. It was not enough to pay for everything including the boys’ Grammar school fees.

One evening I was at Kings Cross with a girlfriend, who was an exotic dancer at one of the nightclubs. I watched her dance and was also offered a job the same evening. How could I not take it when I could see how much money there was to be made?

This is where my problems with addiction started. I became hooked on cocaine, to the point where I couldn’t get enough up my nose in one hit. I taught myself to how cook it and then smoke it. I was smoking on average $5,000 a week of coke.

My eldest son was now living with his Dad and I was fearful about losing the other one.

I could not stop smoking.

On my son’s 4th birthday I took him to Hungry Jacks for a birthday party. His father picked him up and I thought at the time, he was going to be dropped back to me the same evening. Later I was smoking and realised that my son had not been dropped home. It was 1am.  That was the last time I saw him. He was taken to Russia with his father. I then lost custody of my eldest son.

I got alopecia (hair loss) as a result of the stress of losing my children. My eyelashes turned grey. I didn’t recognise the person staring back at me in the mirror.

Somehow, I regained my strength and got clean. I legally changed my name to Jayda, moved to Queensland and stayed clean for twelve years. I worked in construction, for the same employer for most of those years.

Living drug free was a blessing, but my heart ached for my boys – and my Dad, who passed away five years ago.

A few months ago, I received a message request on Messenger. It said, “Are you my Mum? Love Jai”. I pretty much fell off my chair. I replied, “Yes,” and we texted back and forth that afternoon. Then he asked to do a video chat the following week and I agreed.

To be honest, I did not know how to cope with this. I turned to the only mechanism I had ever known – drugs. This time, it was ice. I had officially relapsed.

I don’t know why I gave him access to my bank accounts, but he pretty much cleaned them out, disappeared, and then blocked me on social media.

Then I discovered that my eldest son was abusing cocaine and had lost his contract with the Parramatta Eels.

My drug use escalated quickly. I quickly lost my job, my savings, my self respect. I did terrible things when I was smoking ice, which got splashed across the local newspaper.  One day I had a pipe that was so hot that I burned myself. I begged my partner for help.

I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland for rehab. It was fantastic. I guess I went there with the right attitude. I was willing to learn, I was willing not to use any more.

I had not known about NA before I came into rehab and have done 114 meetings in 85 days. I realised that although I’d stayed clean, I did not have the resources to cope when things went wrong – this is where rehab has helped me so much.

Basically, I started at the beginning of the 12 Step program – yes, number one. I had to admit that I was powerless over my addiction. I was stubborn, and I was afraid.

The incident in the newspaper humiliated me. I remember one of the support workers, JJ, asking me, “Am I ready?”

Yes, I was. I have remained clean since leaving rehab and intend to keep it that way. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to turn my life around thanks to the Hader Clinic Queensland.

My future is looking bright. I went back to work in construction. I have been very open about my story with my employe, and they have put their trust in me. I manage forty-five credit cards, accounts, and bank details.

Down the track, my partner and I would like to open our own rehab centre. Rehab saved my life and I hope to give back by helping others.

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.

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