Understanding Addiction Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Veteran Tom’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Tom is a 47-year-old Veteran, who has been sober for 66 days. He completed a 28-day program at Hader Clinic Queensland after receiving DVA funding to attend.

My parents were both heavy drinkers. They went to parties regularly but there was no abuse or domestic violence in my childhood. I was an anxious child, I found it very difficult to fit into the world around me. Back then we rarely talked about anxiety let alone get treatment for it. I remember my brother was similar.

Growing up personal relationships were hard to maintain. I have never been able to sit still and had a very nervous energy about me. I have always been very methodical, everything had to be how I wanted it to be. I remember my dad telling me that I was self-centred. Looking back, I can see that I was just full of fear.

My parents and extended family were always drinking around us. I even have memories of my parent’s drink driving with us. I was bought up thinking that people who didn’t drink were strange and it was just a part of life. The very first time I drank alcohol, my family and I went to stay with relatives. My cousin gave me a few cans of VB and I couldn’t stand it. I was very young; 12 or 13. I remember thinking how disgusting it tasted and I couldn’t believe people drank alcohol. My mum smelt it on me and I said, “don’t need to worry about me I will never drink, it’s horrible”. They all laughed.

At 15 I started going out to clubs and pubs, things weren’t as strict back then and I was quite tall for my age so it was easy to get in. This is when my drinking really ramped up. It gave me the confidence to go and talk to people and girls. My nervous disposition was nowhere to be seen. I could dance and I felt free. It was routine. School, work, and drinking on the weekend. That’s all I saw other people doing, this was life. I don’t recall ever thinking that it could be a problem. I thought an alcoholic was a homeless drunk on the street.

I went to university straight after year 12. I was very disciplined and determined. In 1996 applied for the air force, and I was not accepted due to an inner ear imbalance. This was the career path I wanted, and I was crushed not to get in. I was focused on getting this job for 6 or 7 years. I had put all of my eggs in one basket. A few years later I joined the Police Force. This was a really structured 6 months in the academy. I was very focused and determined again. Within this structured environment, I was able to not have a drink the whole time.

As soon as I finished at the academy I went back to drinking heavily, after every shift we would drink. We drank every opportunity we could that didn’t impact our work. There is a heavy drinking culture in the police force. I found myself only drinking at the station or with other police. Between the unusual hours and the stress of the job my alcohol use really ramped up and it didn’t affect my work performance. We had our own club at the back of the police station. We even had a vending machine that was filled with alcohol for a while.

I left the police after 8 and a half years and went into the Australian Federal Police. I still had no idea my drinking might be a problem. I went to NSW and just stopped drinking altogether for a while. I would look back at this time to assure myself I had complete control over my alcohol use. I thought I could so easily stop or start. I see now it was just the situation and my perfectionism made sure I didn’t jeopardise anything in my new role.

We got deployed to East Timor on a UN peacekeeping mission. It was extremely dangerous and high anxiety. We were living in a compound with the Military. The danger and anxiety of day-to-day life there were exhilarating. Any free time we had, the whole compound would drink. There was nothing to do except exercise and drink. I loved the danger and the adrenaline and the comradery, I felt part of something. But when I look back now it was a situation in which I could have died many times a day. East Timor had fallen apart, and the government and police had disbanded. People were fighting in the streets with machetes. We would be attacked in the street daily. Our job was to take over and set up functioning police stations and restore some order.

There was so much trauma during this time. I had seen death before, but this was truly horrible. It all seemed so senseless. I was there for a year. The second time I was deployed to East Timor it was much more fulfilling. The country was a lot safer, I was able to work in a command role, and it was more productive. I could see a glimmer of hope for the country. There was a lot of downtimes to drink, and the culture supported it.

I was 34 when I got back in 2009. My anxiety got worse, I noticed I couldn’t even go to a shopping centre. I had a short fuse and no tolerance for stupidity. I would get angry quickly and was frequently in arguments. When we arrived home from the mission, a psychologist gave me a survey that asked some questions about drinking amounts and my general mental health. I was so concerned about not getting deployed again that I answered dishonestly. There was no education or follow-up in any way. I really didn’t connect my anxiety, depression, and bad temperament to the trauma I had suffered.

All I wanted to do was get back overseas. When I was there I had a sense of purpose. I was deployed two more times in my career to Cypress and South Sudan. While I was deployed I felt great, but whenever I would return I would be filled with fear and anxiety again. Every time I returned it was worse. I was afraid to seek any help as I thought it would hinder me in the future. I always wanted to go back overseas. I was completely unable to be vulnerable with anyone and I could not show any weakness.

When we returned from South Sudan, there was a lot of negativity in the AFP. A lot of people who had served alongside me had so much fear about their future; me included. For my whole life, all I thought about was policing. It was my whole world, and I was terrified of change.

Other than exercise the only coping mechanism I knew was drinking alcohol. My drinking became daily, but I was still going to work and getting the job done. I was hungover every day and full of resentment towards the organisation. My wife started to worry about me. I would drink until I fell asleep on the couch. The alcohol addiction had started to take over. I was very isolated.

In 2015 I left the AFP and started working in the private sector. For a short time, it was perfect. I thought that I had found the solution I was looking for. This only lasted a short while. I became indignant and angry at my employers and the people around me. Thinking they didn’t acknowledge the experience I had. I found excuses to hate the job and the boss. I realise now that I was trying to find a justification to drink.

I still refused to seek help, I needed to control everything, I needed to be perfect. I was paranoid and afraid. I was doing geographicals and changing jobs thinking this would fix the situation. I was trying to escape but I always brought myself along with me.

A few years later in 2017, I could see that I could not control my life. I was always involved in arguments. My behaviour had started to impact my relationship. My wife asked me to seek help. I went to see a GP, got referred to a psychologist, and attended an AA meeting. None of this helped me. I would go to the psychologist and try to convince them that I was doing well. I wasn’t ready yet.

Everything spiralled out of control again. I got a deed of separation from work, which is a polite way to be asked to leave with pay. I still couldn’t see I had lost my job as a result of my drinking and being abusive on the job. My mental and physical health were deteriorating. I was lethargic all of the time. I lost interest in everything that I loved. Work, travel, relationships nothing interested me.

My wife and I moved to Malaysia, to start fresh. I thought moving would fix it again, that I wasn’t to blame. It was everyone around me. We stayed there for about a year. It was the same problem again. Me! It got to the point where I was in complete obsession and compulsion with alcohol. I couldn’t get through a day without drinking. I thought about it all day every day. Everything went downhill really quickly and when COVID hit we decided to go home.

I got back to Australia in January 2021. I wasn’t working, I drank all day every day. I tried to limit what and how much I drank. But I could not stop completely. I would have huge arguments with my wife. This went on for over a year. In May, my wife left me after 14 years of marriage. I was completely alone, I was constantly angry at everyone around me. I was unable to take any personal responsibility. My wife asked me to look at going to rehab before she would even consider reconciling.

I searched online for help. I found Hader Clinic Queensland’s website. I saw that DVA funding was available for residential addiction treatment. It shocked me that I didn’t know about this before. It hit me that there were others just like me and that there must be a real problem if a funding program has been created for Veterans. I read stories about people suffering from PTSD. It was the first time I realised that I was suffering from alcohol addiction. There I was completely powerless over the situation. No job or relationship or move overseas was going to fix me.

It was a very quick and easy process. Even though we were separated my wife helped me through it. We got in contact with Hader Clinic Queensland. In only a week I was approved and going in to receive alcohol addiction treatment. I felt it was a great location on the Sunshine Coast. It was peaceful.

The staff and nurses were wonderful. In the early stages, I thought I would just get some information and go through the motions. Once my head cleared, I started attending the classes, I was educated on the disease of addiction. I heard so many stories from other recovering addicts. This gave me hope and really opened my mind to the possibility of recovery. I realised I wasn’t unique and couldn’t do it on my own.

We were introduced to 12-step meetings and recovery literature. This was a turning point for me. We attended meetings daily and I started to see that I was going to need to change everything. Everything I was taught there gave me a foundation for success and still helps me today.

My life has improved tremendously, my wife can see the change in me already in just over 60 days. She has come home and we are working through this together. Not drinking anymore has cleared my head. I have job opportunities. Every single aspect of my life is already different and improving.

Thanks to all the staff at Hader Clinic Queensland I finally have a chance at an alcohol-free life. They taught me to open my mind and be vulnerable so I can finally receive the help I need.


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

6 Stages of Ice Addiction Recovery

Ice addiction recovery is not a straight line. For most people, there will be different issues that arise in each stage of their recovery journey. For many, their recovery journey starts long before the decision is made to seek help.

The 6 stages of ice addiction recovery are:

  • Powerlessness
  • Accepting the problem
  • Detoxing from ice
  • Early recovery
  • A new way of life
  • Daily maintenance

Stage 1. Powerlessness­­

When someone starts to use ice, they believe that they are in control of choosing when and how often to use ice and are enjoying the effects of the drug.

However, after longer, more frequent use, the sufferer may recognise signs of ice addiction and acknowledge they might have a problem, start trying to limit their use of ice, or stop altogether.

It is now the person realises they can’t stop and that they are suffering from an ice addiction.

They will make countless vain attempts to stop until they realise they can’t and they are powerless over their addiction.

Some of the attempts to stop may include:

  • Staying away from people who use drugs
  • Moving away or in with family
  • Limiting the times and the amount of ice they use
  • Substituting one drug for another
  • Going cold turkey without any support

Most sufferers need to go through this stage of their ice addiction recovery before they acknowledge the problem and become motivated to get professional ice addiction treatment to change their life.

Stage 2. Accepting the Problem

After having tried so many ways to restrict or stop their drug use, they may now finally be at a stage where they can accept that their drug use is a concern.

This is a vital stage in the recovery process as, during it, there is a small window of opportunity before the addiction takes hold again where the sufferer shows a willingness to accept help and treatment.

In this period of the ice addiction recovery journey, there may be some serious consequences of the ice addiction and circumstances that can bring a sufferer to a point of surrender.

The sufferer may have:

It is important that the person suffering receives help from addiction professionals who understand addiction first-hand.

Stage 3. Detoxing from Ice

During this stage of ice addiction recovery, the individual needs to be in a safe place to detox from ice so they can safely navigate the withdrawal symptoms of ice and learn to manage stress without substances, and begin the journey towards an abstinence-based lifestyle.

During this stage, ice withdrawal symptoms, thoughts, and emotions can be intense.

Depending on their situation (including personal history and drug use) the ice detox process usually takes between one to two weeks.

Stage 4. Early Recovery

The early recovery stage is all about education about the disease of addiction. Most people in this stage find it easier to do this in a residential addiction treatment facility or through regular 12 step meeting attendance.

Part of the journey is to understand and accept that addiction is a disease and that the underlying reason they used drugs needs to be addressed.

Learning to live without the use of drugs can be difficult, but most addicts find hope when surrounded by the right support network.

Stage 5. A New Way of Life

During this stage, the recovering individual needs to create a new lifestyle.

Without a complete change of lifestyle, the work so far will have little long-term effect.

If the recovering addict has been in a rehab facility or away from their everyday life for a while, they may become overwhelmed and turn back to old coping mechanisms.

It is important that they analyse relationships, jobs, and other lifestyle elements.

Returning to daily life can be difficult to navigate.

There are typically job and relationship changes needed to create a balanced life free from the use of ice.

The recovering person can attend 12-step programs and become involved in the community in another way outside of their workplace and families.

It is important that they receive help to deal with the emotional issues and trauma underlying their drug use.

Stage 6. Daily Maintenance

The final phase of ice addiction recovery is maintenance. It is the stage most people think of when they think of recovery.

The new thoughts and patterns that have been created, along with the new lifestyle changes that are beginning to be made, must now be maintained on an ongoing basis.

Living in the moment and learning to use new tools and coping mechanism requires work.

During this stage the person in recovery will usually find new healthy ways to manage stress and maintain their new way of life, which may include:

  • Meditation
  • Physical exercise
  • Becoming useful to their community

The hallmarks of the daily maintenance stage are the ability to react to problems that come up without the use of ice, choosing to grow and develop as a person, and continuing to be part of a recovery program.


What is Detox?

Detoxing (or detoxification) is the process of your body removing any substances in your system. This is the safest way to deal with withdrawal symptoms once you cease taking drugs or alcohol.

Each experience with drug and alcohol detox will differ depending on the type of drug and how much and how often the drug was used. Medications present in detox assist former drug users by keeping them comfortable during the process of the substance leaving their bodies.

Withdrawal symptoms may take days or even months to pass for most drugs. The length it takes for withdrawals to occur depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of drug you are addicted to
  • The duration the addiction has lasted
  • How severe your addiction is
  • The method of drug abuse (how you ingest the drug)
  • The amount of the drug you take at one time
  • Family history and your genetic makeup
  • If you have any medical conditions or mental health conditions

Detoxing at home can sometimes end in tragedy. If you try to quit your drug addiction without medical supervision, you may experience seizures or extreme dehydration. There are multiple inpatient and outpatient detox programs that aim to prevent such complications from occurring.

If you have a severe addiction, residential addiction treatment will be the most beneficial to preventing fatal withdrawals. These inpatient programs include support and monitoring 24 hours a day.

The detox program you receive will depend on your individual circumstances, however, the process generally involves these three steps:

  • Evaluation: you will be screened by the medical team for any issues that may be physical or relating to your mental health. Blood tests will be conducted to measure the number of drugs that are in your system so doctors can be aware of the level of medication you will require. Your drug, medical and psychiatric history will also be evaluated so your long-term treatment plan can be created.
  • Stabilisation: you will be stabilised with medical and psychological therapy to prevent any harm from coming to you. You may be prescribed addiction treatment medications to assist you through this process
  • Preparing for entry into treatment: you will be informed about what the process involves and what you should expect.

Despite medical detoxing limiting withdrawal symptoms, there are some symptoms that will be unavoidable, such as nervousness, insomnia, discomfort, mood swings, loss of sleep or difficulty concentrating.

Detoxing is only the first step in treating addiction and is often not enough for a successful recovery. You should also seek to treat the psychological element of addiction by attending counselling, support groups or inpatient rehab programs.

If you’re struggling with detoxing, Hader Clinic Queensland can provide thorough information so you can make well-informed decisions to help you choose the right detox program for you.


What Happens During Detox?

Detoxification – commonly referred to as ‘detox’ – is the first step in addiction treatment for drugs and/or alcohol.

It describes the initial phase of allowing the body to purge all traces of drugs and/or alcohol; a brief but intense period of chemical restructure and recovery that can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects known as ‘withdrawal symptoms’.

Why is Detox necessary?

Detox is an essential part of addiction treatment for two main reasons. Firstly – and somewhat obviously – it removes all traces of drugs and/or alcohol from the user’s system, allowing the body to start the process of physical recovery. Secondly, it is vital in getting the individual ready to begin the psychological recovery process with a clear head. Long-term addiction recovery is as much a psychological process as it is a physical, and detox is the best way to get an individual stabilised mentally before the therapy process begins.

What happens during Detox?

After a sustained period of alcohol and/or drug use, the body and brain become accustomed to a certain level of harmful chemicals, overproduced happy chemicals or an overload of neurotoxins; during detox, these substances gradually leave the system.

Depending on the level of use, this process can take between 7 and 10 days, although it can take longer in extreme cases of poly-drug abuse.

As the body can go into shock during ‘cold turkey’ withdrawal – meaning simply stopping substance use without any assisting medications – detoxing on your own and without professional help can be counterproductive and, in the worst-case scenario, life-threatening.

What is Medical Detox?

When a person checks into a treatment centre, they will begin their recovery by going through a supervised, medically assisted detox.

First, they will undergo a thorough medical assessment, to ensure their treatment plan is perfectly tailored to their individual needs.

Second, they will begin the detox process. This usually takes place in a specialist ward or facility, where patients are monitored around the clock and medical professionals are on standby to deal with any adverse symptoms or medical emergencies they might experience as part of withdrawal.

What are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s response to being deprived of the dosage of drugs and/or alcohol it has become used to. There are physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, which may vary in intensity depending on the preceding levels of substance use and the patient’s natural body chemistry and mental state.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal may include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shakes and shivers
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chills and/or hot flushes
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Extreme cravings for drugs and/or alcohol

In particularly severe cases, patients may experience seizures, hallucinations, and states of delirium during their detox process.

Because withdrawal symptoms are unpredictable and can be severe, medical detox includes a variety of medications that will ease the symptoms and help the patient through the rough parts of the process. The appropriate medication and dosage vary dramatically with every case, which is another good reason to get professional help when going through detox.

Read more about Drug and Alcohol Detox here.

What Happens To Your Body When You Use Cocaine?

As with all stimulant drugs, the effects of cocaine vary depending on the potency, purity, and quantity of the drug you ingest, as well as your health, body mass, and chemistry.

It is hard to predict the exact effect of any drug, which is why taking drugs is never risk-free.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug – or ‘upper’ – which means it speeds up the messages between your brain and body, causing feelings of euphoria and heightened confidence.

How does Cocaine work?

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporters in the brain, causing an overproduction of this naturally occurring chemical. Dopamine regulates the pleasure centre of the brain and the amount of dopamine you naturally produce determines our sex drive, appetite, and general feelings of happiness. As the brain goes into overproduction, you will experience extreme versions of perfectly normal feelings and desires.

When you are high on cocaine you may experience

  • Euphoria
  • Out-of-character levels of confidence
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Increased libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Illusions of grandeur, extreme strength, and mental clarity
  • Seemingly limitless energy levels

However, the overstimulation of your receptors and the overproduction of dopamine also has immediate negative effects, including

  • Anxiety, agitation, and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature

Cocaine can also cause you to feel indifferent to physical pain, which means you are more likely to engage in dangerous activities, damage yourself and then aggravate injuries by ignoring them.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, you can absolutely overdose on cocaine. If you misjudge the strength or quantity of any drug, you are likely to take more than your body can handle and there is no way of knowing for sure how much that might be.

If you take too much cocaine, cocaine that is too strong or cocaine that is ‘cut’ with a different harmful substance, you might experience

  • High anxiety
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Stroke

What are the Risks of taking Cocaine?

In the worst-case scenario, a cocaine overdose will leave you comatose or dead. However, even if that doesn’t happen, there are many risks involved in cocaine use. If you use cocaine regularly or overdose, you may develop:

  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Heart conditions
  • Cerebral atrophy (brain wastage leading to permanently impaired cognitive functioning)
  • Eating disorders
  • Hallucinations

Depending on how you ingest cocaine, you may also develop

  • A perforated septum (from snorting cocaine)
  • Breathing difficulties, chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease (from smoking cocaine)
  • Tissue damage, collapsed veins, blood-borne viruses (from injecting cocaine)

Cocaine has the potential to wreak absolute havoc with your physical and mental health, even in its purest forms. The added risk of unknown substances being used to ‘cut’ any given batch of the drug means that you are also putting yourself in danger of side effects usually not associated with cocaine, such as abscesses and liver failure.

Learn more about cocaine addiction treatment here.

A Family Recovery Story

This family navigated their 25 years old daughter’s drug addiction and have just celebrated her being 11 months clean. This is their story.

We moved to Australia from the UK when our daughter was 2 years old and then moved interstate when she was 7.

Our daughter was a very quiet and sensitive child. She seemed to always struggle to fit in. She was an only child, so it was always just the three of us. She was very active and participated in various sports. She struggled with personal relationships and found it hard to make friends. She was very vulnerable to the people around her and seemed to be easily influenced.

“I feel I didn’t listen to her enough as a child,” Dad says. She told me she felt like she didn’t belong in the family home. As an only child, she often felt lonely. We gave her everything she needed except what she wanted, which was unconditional love, our attention and time. I can see we weren’t present.

We both had very high expectations of our daughter. We always wanted our daughter to have more options than we felt we had growing up. It was important to us ‌she was successful, and she often felt a lot of pressure from us. We can see that our love had conditions and as much as it is hard to admit, it is important to acknowledge it so our family can heal and recover.

In hindsight, we had a lot of denial. We really didn’t see her addiction as more than a phase until last year when we were at an information session at Hader Clinic Queensland with the Family Coordinator. It was explained to us that this is a disease, and she isn’t just going to grow out of this phase. Our daughter was in the grips of a serious and progressive illness. This revelation helped us so much, but the feeling of guilt intensified. How could we have not known this earlier? All the signs were there.

Around the age of 15, we saw a change in our daughter. She started a relationship with a boy around the corner. We were really open to it and met his family and he often came over. At the time, our daughter was struggling a lot with social media and bullying. Her social life was always difficult for her. This boy went to another school, and she found it hard to fit in with his friends. They were together for a while, but when the relationship ended, things went downhill for her. She had a lot of feelings of abandonment and rejection.

Our daughter got a job in hospitality. She was working with people that were older than her. The first time we are aware of her smoking marijuana was after a party she went to with her work friends. Before this, we had caught her smoking cigarettes, but we had done this as teens too. We rationalised it as just a phase.

She was sneaking around and being dishonest with us. We felt something was going on but just rationalised and justified everything. We didn’t have as open communication with Our daughter as we would have liked to. When she was 17, we took her to the doctor and psychologist. She would mostly talk about her relationships with other people.

We thought as she got older, she would make friends easier. We didn’t even consider that she may be taking drugs to cope and fit in.

I feel that our love was very conditional, and I have a lot of guilt and shame. Through our sessions at Hader Clinic Queensland and Nar-Anon meetings, we have learned that we are in recovery as a family. We no longer stand behind our daughter. We stand beside her.

Halfway through year 12, our daughter wanted to quit. We had to drag her through year 12. We gave her everything except what she needed, which was love and affection. The thing she needed the most we couldn’t buy off the shelf. We had spoilt her when what she really needed was for us to be present.

When she finished school, our daughter went to the UK to live with her Mum’s parents. The intention was that she would go over there to work and travel. However, we would have preferred for her to stay in Australia and study.

Our daughter had a lot of trouble in the UK, this is when she transitioned into heavier drugs like ecstasy and party drugs. Her behaviour was erratic, and it didn’t work out with her grandparents. She rented her own place as she wanted to stay in the UK. Some time passed and she started to contact us and saying it was too hard and she just wanted to come home. She had started working in aged care and had started college over there, so we told her to stay.

We did not know that drugs were involved. We were aware she was in a toxic relationship. She was having so many issues and she was crying out for help. We have a lot of guilt. Instead of listening, we just tried to send more money and kept believing she will grow out of this and find her way in life.

The year our daughter was 19 she came home from the UK, and we moved out of our family home to live closer to the city so she could get work. Our daughter just didn’t settle into life, it seemed she just couldn’t get work or life. Her life was so unmanageable.

We both had completely different ways of coping. One would distance themself from her, and the other would try to remain calm and be the mediator, but they would butt heads with each other.

At one stage, she hung around a girl she used to go to school with. This is when everything was so chaotic, she would go out on a Friday and disappear for a week, and she would message occasionally. She would turn up and stay home for a short while and then disappear again. We found out she was working at a strip club. But she told us ‌she was just working behind the bar.

One night she had disappeared which wasn’t unusual, but she called us to pick her up. We got there and she appeared unwell, she told us that she had tried ice, she seemed terrified.

So, we took her to the Hospital. She didn’t want to go to the hospital and felt really embarrassed. We were terrified. We didn’t know what to do; we wanted to find someone to help her because we didn’t know how to help her. It was so frightening, and we felt so inadequate as parents.

She spoke to a drug counsellor, and he came out and talked to us. He told us she said it is just a phase and she would get over it and she didn’t want to be there.

I felt angry, disappointed, hopeless, & frustrated. I felt she was ungrateful. She was difficult to be around, I just didn’t understand or want to understand. I now have learnt it isn’t a simple fact of switching this addiction off, it’s a matter of willpower. I felt she had a choice, and that was using.

For the next four years, our daughter was coming in and out of our lives, there was even a period when she went missing for close to a week. We couldn’t find her or get hold of her. Some people contacted us on Facebook, saying they didn’t know where she was. We reported her missing to the police. We were desperate and so afraid, just waiting for the knock on the door to tell us our little girl was dead.

Her friends told us she was last seen with an older man in a pub, we feared the worst. The police eventually found her. They brought her home, and she was so angry at us for involving the police. Even though we knew she had taken heavy drugs, we still had not acknowledged the seriousness of our daughter’s illness. It made no sense to us why she continued to live this way.

When she would come home, there would be periods where things would be fine, then she would disappear again. She started making regular trips interstate for a weekend or a week and when she came home, we would find bundles of cash and she would tell us that she was working as a model.

One night she was leaving, and we begged her not to go to. She went anyway, at this point we felt like she was lost and that we no longer had any control over her. We were in so much denial and I didn’t ask too many questions because we didn’t want to know the truth.

One night we came home, and she was passed out in her room. There were drugs all over the floor. We wanted to call the police, but we couldn’t stand the thought of her getting arrested. I just bundled all the drugs and paraphernalia up and put them in her room. I didn’t say a word to her the next day, it was too hard to face.

We were the biggest enablers, and we would always give her a safe place to land.

Eventually, a psychologist referred her to a psychiatrist, and our daughter was put on anti-psychotic drugs. Not even this medication could help her.

She again moved interstate, and she told us she was in a relationship and was living with them. The following year, we went to visit her. It was very confronting, she looked awful, very gaunt, and sick.

She would travel between states regularly and was living a ‌haphazard life. She was clearly heavily involved in the drug scene and living with someone who was extremely controlling.

She eventually decided to move back home. No matter what, she always had a place to call home. So, we drove interstate to collect all her belongings. She had attempted to get clean. We completely enabled her drug lifestyle. We were always cleaning up after her and robbing her of her rock bottom.

In August 2020, we came home from work. There was music blaring, and she was home with a guy. She was clearly on drugs. We took the house keys off her and told her to leave. After this incident, she was staying in contact but was not coming home. She had left a bag at our house. When we looked through it there were drugs, credit cards, and paraphernalia. One day there were three detectives standing out our front door and they had a search warrant. They searched her room; we couldn’t believe that we were now in this situation.

We called our daughter and told her ‌we had enough. We can’t help anymore, we cancelled her phone and told her we would plan for her to collect her stuff, but she was no longer welcome in the family home.

All of her belongings were put in storage when we moved, and we didn’t let her know where we lived. Our daughter was homeless and moved interstate again in December 2020, we would hear from her occasionally.

In January 2021 we were contacted and told our daughter had stolen a car and was driving back home. But as we had made it very clear that if drugs were involved, we did not want to be part of her life. She could not return home. We know now she was hotel hopping and living with different men for a while.

A counsellor reached out to us and said if our daughter went into recovery would we have her back in our lives? Of course, we wanted to have our daughter in our lives, but she had made so many failed attempts in the past. We would meet with her in public places. Our daughter looked so sick. We acknowledged she was very unwell, but our denial kept us from the reality that she was unable to change this herself. We met up with her weekly for a while.

Our daughter was facing serious charges because of the people she was hanging around and the decisions she kept making.

In July 2021 our daughter contacted us once more and told us she was going into a 28-day detox at the Hader Clinic Queensland. We immediately said we will come and get her to take her there. She didn’t come home straight away and stayed with her boyfriend, as she was still using, and he was very controlling of what she could and couldn’t do.

Eventually, we went and picked her up, and bought her back to our house, she got her stuff ready and then her boyfriend demanded to come with us to the detox and see where it was. Our daughter had updated us to be the primary contact, and this angered him.

He hassled us continuously and hassled the Hader Clinic during her first 28 days. He was extremely controlling. Every day, he would call us.

We met up with the Family Coordinator before we got to have a family visit, which was the start of our own recovery journey. This is when we learned that this was a disease and that our daughter was very sick. The Family Coordinator said to us “if your daughter had cancer how would you treat her?” It felt like a huge awakening moment. Everything started to make sense. It made us understand ‌we had been in denial for a long time and that she could not stop even with the greatest desire to do so. The entire process was explained to us and it was a relief, finally, our daughter was with people that could help her.

During our first weekend visit, our daughter asked if we would help her financially and support her to stay and complete the full 90-day program.

It then became very clear that we needed to embark on our own journey. We were encouraged to attend family education sessions and we now attend weekly family Nar-Anon meetings.

Hader Clinic Queensland taught us the tools to connect and listen to our daughter. We are now learning how to communicate with our daughter. With all the anger and frustration melting away, we could finally be honest and put the whip down.

We have learned how to live in the present moment. Our daughter has been clean now for over 11 months after successfully completing the 90-day residential rehabilitation program and moving out of the Transitional Housing Program after 6 months. There is a long way to go, but now we as a family are finally on the same path and heading for the same destination.

The Hader program has given our daughter the knowledge and tools she needs to live a healthy and clean lifestyle and if she continues to use these, she can become the beautiful girl we once knew and loved.

We would just like to thank Hader Clinic Queensland and all its beautiful caring and wonderful staff; we have our daughter back in our lives and all three of us have so many tools now to work with living with an addict.

“Remember we are Powerless over our addict, but work the program and keep coming back”.


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


A Mother’s Journey with Her Son’s Addiction

“Being a mother brings great joy and great sadness when it doesn’t go the way you planned”.

Katherine’s son, Tom, was a polydrug user, addicted to Marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines, and Nangs (Nitrous oxide). This is Katherine’s story of recovery.

My son, Tom was a happy boy growing up he had a lot of friends. Our family is a very close and supportive one. His father is a Doctor and Tom had a very supportive and stable life growing up.

Things changed around the age of 14, Tom started to become disconnected from school and his family, he was less interested in learning and more interested in being “cool”. He started drinking and smoking cigarettes, then started smoking marijuana.

Watching my happy and intelligent son change was heartbreaking. Tom was attending a good school and had great opportunities. However, he was very rebellious against authority and was angry at what he perceived as an unjust world.

When Tom was in year 11, we went to America for 6 months and Tom was doing his schooling via correspondence at a school there. It was meant to be a great time for us as a family and an amazing life experience.

Tom was caught smoking marijuana and as the school had a no-tolerance policy for drugs, they suspended him for 6 months. He was then home with me for around 5 months, he was very negative and difficult to be around at times. This was the first time Tom’s drug use had consequences and caused family issues.

In years 11 and 12 I got an email saying his Naplan results didn’t match his school results. He was smart but just didn’t apply himself at school. His drug use was often more important, and he appeared to be interested in little else.

Even so, Tom went to university and finished his degree in psychology. I thought that his life was back on track. He was 21 and in a good relationship with a lovely girl that was a good influence on him. He had some good friends, and they had a lot of fun drinking which appeared to be normal for his age. I wasn’t worried about him and felt he was doing well.

Tom was very anti-establishment. He had always felt there was injustice in the world, and he focused on it. He was very rebellious and found it hard to be happy.

Around 23 his relationship broke down and he became extremely depressed. He didn’t want to be around people, so he got a night shift job on the Gold Coast and we did everything in our power to help him launch.

One day he came to us and said, “I need to get sober; I need to stop drinking and stop using drugs.” I was so happy he had reached out for help and wanted to assist in any way we could.

We told him to come home, and we would help him, but even at home with us and with the biggest desire to change, he couldn’t stop using. He was out of control. I feared he would end up dead or in jail. He had been arrested a few times and was often heavily intoxicated while driving.

He went to stay with my Mum, her house was a good circuit breaker for Tom, we would send him there to detox and be supported. We gave him an ultimatum. We told him to get help, or he couldn’t come home to us.

It was very difficult to be around him. He used my credit cards, he spent thousands of dollars on drugs. He would always be so remorseful, but I could see it was out of his control.

We kept propping him up all the time, giving him money, giving him a place to live and now I know now I was enabling his drug use. I had no idea what that meant before the family education sessions at the Hader Clinic.

I thought giving him money and support would help him, but we were enabling him to continue his lifestyle with very few consequences.

After some research, we found Hader Clinic Queensland, and Tom was admitted there shortly after. The first week was tough for him. We wanted him to stay for 90 days but he decided to come home after 28 days.

The day he was getting out we were ready to get him, and we had tested positive for covid. My mum had to get him and he was really upset about this, he couldn’t come and stay with us and had to go back to his flat in Kangaroo Point. He lapsed that day.

I realised then that this was not going to be a straight road. The Hader Clinic had given me so many tools from the information session and group education sessions with other family members of addicts.

This helped us in so many ways. We learned that we can’t do everything for Tom, if he was going to get clean, he needed to want it for himself. Enabling him by giving him money and fixing things for him was harmful.

After this lapse, I was really disheartened and wanted him to go back to rehab. Tom believed he could do it himself.

I could really see a change in Tom when he came home, he had a complete change in his attitude, focusing on living in the day and caring more for other people. It has been 3 months now and he is doing really well, he is regularly attending meetings and staying clean. He uses so many of the tools he was taught at the Hader Clinic, he even teaches us how to practice gratitude at dinner time. It’s so beautiful to have our son guide us in gratitude at dinner. I know that this is because he was taught the fundamentals for success in rehab.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s education has made me understand the disease of addiction in a way I never could before. I really understand that this is a sickness, that there is no pill and no cure. For him to be happy and free from addiction he needs a community and tools. It is not something I can do for him.

Going to the family groups helped me connect with other parents going through the same situation. Hearing the other families’ stories gave me hope that we could get through this.

Their stories were really emotional and humbling.

I am so happy that my son got to the Hader Clinic. It has completely changed the outcome of his life. He is fully aware and has a very good understanding of how addiction works and is attending as many meetings as he can get to which really help support him in his journey.

I know that we will face challenges ahead, but I feel that we have the tools and support to get through this.

My biggest advice for other families struggling is to get help, it is so hard to do this on your own, it is a chronic illness, and it is so important to seek support from people that know what to do.

It’s been such a privilege to work with the Hader Clinic Queensland. I have my happy son back. He is journaling every day and is teaching me so much. He is a very calm presence in our house, and we love being around him.

Thanks to the Hader Clinic I believe my son has been given a second chance in life.


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

What is Ice, and What Effect Can It Have?

Out of the three main types of methamphetamines – ice, speed and base – ice has become the most widely used in Australia; 6% of Australians admit to having used ice once or multiple times and 1 in 70 Australians will use ice once or more in any given year.

It is most commonly consumed by smoking or injection. It can also be swallowed or snorted. The immediacy of the effect depends on the method of ingestion.

Ice is a synthetic stimulant drug, meaning it is entirely man-made and often contains highly toxic household chemicals. Drain cleaner, bleach and anti-freeze are common additives to ice and responsible for many of the devastating side effects it has on the body and mind.

Ice is considered highly addictive, as even a single use can lead to debilitating cravings during the come-down period (also referred to as ‘crash’).

What are the Risks?

The immediate risks of taking ice, even if it is a once-off use, can be quite dramatic; largely because it is impossible to know what exactly each batch contains and which harmful toxins the user is ingesting. Even first-time users are at risk of heart failure, stroke or seizures, depending on the dosage and potency of the drug.

Furthermore, persons high on ice are likely to engage in impulsive and risk-taking behaviours while high, putting themselves and others in harm’s way. This can mean getting into physical fights, engaging in unsafe sexual behaviours, self-harming or sharing needles when injecting ice.

When ice is used over a sustained period of time, users are at risk of experiencing devastating health problems. Ice use affects the kidneys, heart and lungs; can ruin users’ teeth (a phenomenon known as ‘meth-mouth’) and lead to permanent impairment of memory and concentration.

How does Ice affect me?

Ice is an upper, which means it speeds up the messages between the brain and the body; as well as sending the body’s production of ‘happy chemicals’ into overdrive.

Ice wreaks absolute havoc with the users’ brain chemistry. It increases the production of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenalin by up to 1000 times the normal level.

  • Dopamine controls the brains pleasure centre. Increased dopamine levels cause the euphoria associated with the ice high
  • Serotonin regulates our mood, appetite and sleep patterns. Increased serotonin levels explain the mood swings, loss of appetite and insomnia frequently caused by ice consumption
  • Noradrenalin regulates arousal, meaning persons high on ice often feel hypersexual and may exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviour due to increased noradrenalin levels.

As a result of this overproduction, persons high on ice are likely to experience:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased energy levels to the point of hyperactivity
  • Heightened states of sexual arousal
  • Increased levels of confidence
  • Illusions of great mental clarity
  • Loss of appetite

Ice can also have a huge variety of unpleasant side effects – for both first-time and regular users. Side-effects of taking ice may include:

  • Psychotic episodes (commonly referred to as ‘Ice Psychosis’)
  • Uncontrollable trembling (the shakes)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart palpitations
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea to the point of vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Blurred vision
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Depending on how it is ingested, an ice high can come on instantly or take up to fifteen minutes to take effect. The high itself can last up to twelve hours; however, it takes much longer for the last traces to leave the body and even longer for the body’s natural chemistry to normalise. First-time users will need about three days before their system is back to normal; regular use over a sustained period means a recovery period of roughly nine months until the user is completely ice-free.

What Happens During Come Down and Withdrawal?

Ice does not only increase the production of the ‘happy chemicals’, it also disables the brain’s ability to reabsorb them; so, once the users’ brains are depleted, they are in for a horrendous crash.

Depending on how much ice a person has taken and how frequently the drug is used, the comedown can start within 12 or even 24 hours of using. Symptoms most commonly include:

  • Feelings of depression
  • Inability to sleep despite feeling exhausted
  • Severe headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Extreme irritability
  • Physical pain (often described as being similar to severe flu symptoms)

The comedown period lasts until the active components of the drug have left the user’s system; which is when the withdrawal sets in. The acute withdrawal period can last up to 14 days. During withdrawal ice addicts are likely to experience:

  • Intense cravings for ice
  • Severe lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Inability to focus or think clearly
  • Vomiting
  • Physical pain
  • Restlessness
  • Broken sleep

It is important to understand that the withdrawal symptoms – the cravings for the drug and the mood swings – can continue for up to 18 months in cases of extreme habitual use. This is known as chronic withdrawal and can make the recovery process extremely challenging, which is why professional help is crucial if a user wants to kick the habit for good.

Read more about ice addiction here.


What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the brain by stimulating high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The effects are often short-lived, causing users to use frequently.

Cocaine is highly addictive, and addiction requires hospitalised treatment through residential addiction treatment.

But what is cocaine, and how is it made?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, derived from the leaves of the native South American Coca Bush.

There is no telling how long natural cocaine has been in use for a variety of medical and semi-recreational purposes in its native land; however, Cocaine Hydrochloride, the purified chemical version of the active ingredient of the coca leaf, was first isolated in the early 1900s.

Cocaine Hydrochloride used to be a medical staple because of its numbing properties; it was in frequent use in order to block pain during surgical procedures. However, cocaine also made its way into everyday use – albeit in lower dosages – in the forms of cough syrups, cold remedies and even as an ingredient of early incarnations of Coca-Cola.

Since then, however, research has shown that regular and frequent cocaine use can have devastating consequences, including irreversible damage to our brain structure and brain function. As a result, cocaine has long since been declared a Schedule II Drug or illegal stimulant drug, meaning that possession, sale, procurement and consumption carry fines and/or jail sentences depending on the amount and individual circumstances.

There are currently three main types of cocaine in circulation:

  • Cocaine Hydrochloride – a fine white powder that can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums or dissolved in liquid for injection. Street cocaine is often ‘cut’ with visually similar substances, such as baking powder, sugar or talcum powder, adding an element of undeterminable risk for the user.
  • Freebase – a white powder that tends to present fewer impurities than cocaine hydrochloride; however, it is also more potent and more likely to result in overdose.
  • Crack Cocaine – this crystalline form of cocaine is usually smoked and comes in a variety of colours ranging from pure white to pink and blue hues. It is the most addictive form of cocaine and its devastating effects on the user are well-documented.

Cocaine is known by many names, including:

  • Charlie
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Nose Candy
  • Snow
  • Blow
  • White dust
  • Toot
  • White Lady
  • Stardust
  • C

Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid for injection or, in the case of Crack Cocaine and Freebase, be smoked in a glass pipe. No matter the method, the high usually comes on fast and lasts between five and fifteen minutes. Once the immediate effects of cocaine wear off, the user often experiences a jarring ‘crash’ which can lead to repeated use within a relatively short time span.

Cocaine is considered an addictive and harmful substance, and there are no known safe levels of use.

Read more about cocaine addiction here.

What’s the Difference Between a Slip and Relapse?

Slip and relapse are two terms that individuals in recovery will often hear. They can sometimes be used interchangeably, so it is easy to become confused. But are they the same thing?

This article will help explain the difference between the two terms.

You may see slip and relapse as meaning the same thing. It often depends on your personal experience with addiction, which can have an influence on how you interpret the terms. To determine the difference between the two terms, it can be helpful to consider your intention. For example, a slip could be considered an unplanned use of alcohol or drugs, but relapse is when your recovery plan is totally abandoned. A slip is only temporary whereas relapse is more permanent. Slips can easily lead to relapses without proper intervention.

You may unknowingly go through a slip. For example, if you accidentally consume a pot brownie thinking it was a normal brownie. This is an obvious accident; however, slips can also happen because of temptation. If you’re at a party and everyone around you is drinking, you might slip and consume alcohol, thinking you will only slip ‘just this once’. This mentality can easily lead to a relapse, so it is important to consider whether it is worth it to give in to temptation. Being honest about your addiction and being aware of what may trigger you can be helpful in relapse prevention. However, if you do experience a slip, you should return to your addiction recovery plan at once, so you don’t progress into a relapse.

If you have slipped after completing your residential addiction treatment, it is important to acknowledge it and think about why the slip happened. Put in the effort to not make the mistake again and decide to stay in recovery. Talking to anyone who’s a part of your support system can help you move past it. It can be hard to move on from a slip, especially if you feel regret or remorse, but everyone makes mistakes and if you continue to work on recovering, the slip won’t hold you back.

If you have slipped a few times, this does not mean you are in relapse. Relapsing is completely abandoning your recovery plans. This means you have returned to your life before you started your recovery plan. So, if you are still making the effort to recover, you have not relapsed, just don’t use slips as an excuse for relapsing. If you have a habitual use of drugs or alcohol, this is not a slip, this is a relapse. So even if you’re not using all the time, it is still a patterned behaviour of usage.

If you are struggling with slips or relapses, the Hader Clinic Queensland can help you get back on track to sobriety.

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

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