Women and Addiction Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Even the Love for my Child Couldn’t Stop Me from Drinking

Anne is a registered nurse that recently completed a 90-day alcohol addiction treatment program at Hader Clinic Queensland. She is now just over 5 months sober after picking up her first drink at the age of 10. This is her story.

I was a happy child and was part of a loving family. My parents were heavily involved in the church. I felt my parents were very busy with their work, but I was loved and supported. When I was 10 years old, a friend’s father sexually assaulted me during a visit. It was a singular event. However, the trauma I experienced changed the course of my life forever. I felt so afraid and alone. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone about what had happened. Even if I wanted to tell someone, I couldn’t find the words. I loved it at my friend’s house. She had horses, and I wanted to be allowed to go back. I wanted everything to stay as it was before.

Shortly after this event, I had my first drink. I remember thinking this is a wonderful feeling, this is a real escape. Looking back, I can see that I threw myself into anything I could to escape from the reality of the pain & confusion I was experiencing.

I got into ballet. It became my world, and I did it obsessively. The music and movement took me somewhere else. I was a complete perfectionist about it. Dancing was an escape and gave me a place I could feel peace in my mind.

I didn’t have another drink until I was 14. It was with some girls at church. I noticed they didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. My behaviour was erratic and not acceptable. They took me home to my mum and told her I had been drinking alcohol. She said I would have a headache in the morning and that would be punishment enough. It shocked me she didn’t get angry. I wanted her to. I see now I was trying to get her attention. It was a cry for help. She didn’t tell my dad, so I felt like I got away with it.

In my mind, it was a pretty normal teenage experience to binge drink. Even though I often drank so much that I got sick. When I was 14, I met my future husband; he was 18. He was a very caring and loving person. I felt happy when I was with him. It had been 4 years since I was assaulted and I had told no one about what happened to me. During my teenage years, I continued to use alcohol and the relationship I was in to escape.

We got married when I was 20. During the first year of the marriage, I started drinking red wine a few times a week. I felt very depressed and trapped. I didn’t know if I wanted to be married. I had been in this relationship since I was 14 and felt that I didn’t have a childhood. I wondered what other girls my age were doing. There were a lot of powerful feelings.

My unresolved trauma, regular drinking, and feelings of being trapped led me to have a nervous breakdown. I told my husband that I just wanted to run away. Anywhere would be better than where I was.

I went to Tasmania with some money I had saved. I wanted a break from the marriage, a break from my reality. I stayed at BNB’s and hotels. I would go out at night to party and drink heavily. I was very promiscuous and would go home with random men. I wanted to be as free and wild as I could be. The holiday lasted for 3 weeks in total. I rang my husband and told him I had affairs and that I didn’t want to be married anymore.

When I got back, we separated. I had progressed to drinking 1 bottle of red wine a night and was a regular at bars and nightclubs. This was a very wild time in my life. I don’t recall having any control of my emotions. As devout Christians, my parents were very concerned about my divorce. I didn’t care about anything; I don’t recall caring what anyone felt or who I was hurting.

Things spiralled out of control, and my alcohol addiction was progressing. I was a registered nurse and I stopped working for around 6 months. My parents supported me financially. Because of the divorce, we sold our house in the Blue Mountains and I moved in with my sister. I had nowhere else to go. I couldn’t stay with my parents as I wanted to drink and had also started smoking pot. I lived with my sister for around 4 months.

When I was 23, I moved into a share house and started working again, but only part time. The rest of the time I was drinking and going to pubs and clubs, I still had the same agenda of escaping with men and alcohol. Shortly after moving into the share house, I met my second husband. He was a friend of one of the people I lived with.

He was a binge drinker but didn’t consider himself an alcoholic as he didn’t drink every day. My daily drinking habit concerned him, and this caused friction during our marriage. He would often talk to me about it and would even try to enforce restrictions on the amount and time I could drink.

He was a daily pot smoker. After a year of being with him, I fell pregnant with our first son. I continued to drink occasionally and smoke pot with my husband.

In the late 90s it wasn’t as unacceptable to smoke and drink a small amount during pregnancy as it is today, there wasn’t as much information about the harm it could cause. Even so I felt guilt and shame about doing it. I was rationalising and justifying my behaviour. We had 2 more children, a boy and a girl. All of my children from this marriage were born healthy. I remained married to him for 14 years.

Our marriage was not a happy one, and I had still never addressed the internal struggles I faced daily. There was no limit to the amount I drank. I would often drink so heavily that I would have blackouts. My husband was an interstate truck driver and he would go away for long periods of time.

I was working as a nurse full-time, so I only drank at night, but most nights so heavily that I would pass out or not remember what had happened. I rationalised it was ok as I would make sure the children were fed and put to bed beforehand. Although everything I did for the children, I had a drink in my hand. It was the only way I could cope with life.

There were periods where my husband would want me to stop drinking. I would try to stop, but deep inside I didn’t see it as an option, as it was my only coping mechanism. Our relationship became really unstable when he realised I had a drinking problem. He would get in his truck and leave us. He was dishonest and unfaithful. The more he lied to me, the more unhappy I got and the more I would drink to cope. It was a vicious cycle. It felt like I was trapped in this horrible cycle of alcohol addiction and couldn’t get out.

When this relationship ended, it was terrible. He fought for custody of the children. He used my drinking to say I was an unfit mother. The children were old enough to decide, and they went with their father. He had really painted me as an unfit mother to everyone that would listen, including my kids. I couldn’t cope with this. I felt so alone. I drank a lot.

Anytime I wasn’t at work, I was drunk. I was devastated and mentally unstable. This was the first time I contemplated suicide. But I knew I had to stay alive for my kids. They needed me.

I eventually got my children back in my care. They were gone for four months. It was a bitter break up and this feud continued for years.

When I was 38, I went out with a friend of mine. I met a man and got into a new relationship. Things moved fast, and he moved in shortly after we met. He was great with my kids at the start. However, he was a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. I liked this about him. It was a total green light. He completely enabled my drinking. He was 10 years younger than me, and we had the common interest of sex and heavy drinking.

2 years into this relationship, I fell pregnant with my youngest daughter. I was still drinking heavily and smoking pot. I rationalised I was healthy and that it hadn’t affected my other 3 kids. I had no choice to stop. The relationship struggled. He became very abusive after my daughter was born. He would runaway through the night. I knew he was an alcoholic, but I later found out he was an ice addict as well.

When our daughter was 6 months old, he became very violent towards me. He refused to work so I had to go back to working full time. I had 4 kids to support and a mortgage to pay.

For the next 2 years, I was assaulted physically, mentally and sexually daily. My drinking was continuous and I would regularly have blackouts. When I was unconscious, he would assault me. He would always come back despite me trying to end the relationship. I was powerless, my life became a living nightmare, I was so sick. I couldn’t end this relationship or stop drinking.

Our daughter was 2 when I finally got him out of my life. My parents came and stayed with me on and off. They helped me get him out of my life for good. I took him to court and got an AVO against him.

They charged him with the physical and sexual assault. They offered me domestic violence support which helped me, but I was still drinking so heavily that even though he was gone, my life remained completely out of control.

My daughter had learning difficulties at school. She couldn’t read well and was behind her peers at school. I took her to specialists. They thought it was because of all the trauma she experienced. They later diagnosed her with foetal alcohol syndrome, complex trauma, and depression. I was devastated. I could no longer deny the impact my drinking and my unhealthy relationships had on my children’s life. I desperately wanted to stop but could not find a way out.

I had no choice but to live in this horrible cycle of drinking to cope with life. The constant shame and guilt I felt was unbearable.

Two years ago my family intervened. They took my daughter to Cairns to live with my sister. My alcoholism had progressed so far, and I could not care for my daughter. I couldn’t do anything. The alcohol was the most important thing in my world and I became completely depressed. I tried to commit suicide multiple times.

My parents gave me an ultimatum to either get well or I could not have my daughter back in my care. Even the love I had for my child couldn’t stop me from drinking. For 18 long months, I was in a living hell. I still had my house and my job but I was completely alone. I had no family, no children. The only person I could speak to was my sister, and this was only to talk to my daughter.

The isolation and the degradation I felt are unforgettable. I missed my daughter immensely. I made many attempts to stop drinking on my own. I was never successful. I did not understand the disease of addiction. I would try to stop cold turkey or try to just smoke pot. I could stop for short periods of time, but I couldn’t stay stopped on my own.

Six months ago I had come to a point where I felt like my life was so awful, I was so unhappy. I knew I couldn’t continue this way. My sister said to me, why don’t you just go to rehab, just give it a go for even just a month? I did some research online. I saw Hader Clinic Queensland offered a 90-day rehabilitation program. Rehab had not been something I had considered previously.

After some research, Hader Clinic Queensland seemed like the best place to go. I felt I had a good chance to get sober there. I thought if I am going to do this I want to go somewhere that I had a good chance of recovery and reading through the recovery stories gave me hope.

I decided to go there. I was not forced or manipulated to go there; the choice was mine. I think that is important because all the other times I had tried to get sober had been for other people. This time, I wanted it for myself.

Of course, I was afraid and didn’t really like the idea of going to rehab. I slept a lot in the first 5 days and just took direction from the staff. I felt awful but I knew I was in the right place. After the 3rd day, I started going to the classes. The staff really cared for me and supported me.

The Hader Clinic gave me a great foundation. The accountability and structure they taught me still help me today. I learned that alcoholism was a disease, that it was a progressive fatal illness with no cure. The only way out was to follow the program they gave me. They also encouraged me to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and work the 12 steps. Since leaving rehab, I have thrown myself into the AA program.

I have made connections with people in the rehab and in my fellowship. I am now coming up to 5 months. Hader Clinic Queensland changed my life. I have now bought a house in Cairns and I am working as a nurse.

The tools I have learned help me be a part of my family and my community in a way I have never experienced before. I go to my sister’s house every day to spend time with my daughter. She is 10 next week and is going to stay with me regularly.

Hader Clinic Queensland gave me the knowledge that I was just a really sick person and being with other people with the same illness showed me I was not alone in this. They introduced me to Yoga and many daily practices that keep me healthy. Body, mind, and soul.

I finally have a reprieve from this disease. I have replaced alcohol with real coping mechanisms that help me deal with a range of emotions and live my life to the fullest. My mind is clear and I can finally find the words and the strength to get help with the trauma I experienced as a child.

I am finally free to be my true self. Today, I experience true joy.

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

Cassandra’s Ice Addiction Recovery

Cassandra recently completed the 90-day residential addiction treatment at the Hader Clinic Queensland for her ice addiction. She will be six months clean in a few weeks. This is her journey so far.

My name is Cassandra. I am 25 years old.  Six months ago, I was trapped in a horrific cycle of ice addiction. I had resigned myself to the fact that this would be my life.

My childhood wasn’t awful, my parents were together, and I did well at the private school I attended. I was the eldest of 2 and had a younger brother who I was close with. My parents were drinkers, but things were mostly happy at home.

I remember being very depressed, and I had a general sense of discomfort growing up. I never felt comfortable in my skin and found it difficult to make friends. I was a loner and spent a lot of my time reading books.

At 13, I had an eating disorder and started to self-harm. I saw psychologists and psychiatrists, who prescribed medicine, but I didn’t want to take it. I couldn’t understand why I felt like this. I tried to exercise, eat well, and socialise, but nothing helped to take away the depression I was experiencing.

The first day I drank alcohol was the day I turned 18. I drank an entire bottle of vodka at my friends and blacked out. I knew there was something different about the way I drank that night.

After this experience, I decided that alcohol wasn’t for me and didn’t drink for a few years.

I started University, studying social work. I was still plagued with waves of depression. To combat my depression, I turned to physical fitness and healthy eating again. Nothing ever seemed to work or give me any relief.

I had made some friends at uni, and they were going out and partying on the weekends. Since the healthy lifestyle did not seem to help me, I decided I would start socialising more and going out with them on the weekends.

I found the nightlife in the Valley fun and drinking helped me to socialise and connect with people more. I applied for a job as a waitress at a strip club. During my interview, they asked if I wanted to strip instead. I took them up on this offer. It was a fun and exhilarating experience. I found a sense of belonging with the people I worked with at the club and my regular customers.

I loved the confidence I got from stripping. I had been dancing for a few months when one of the girls offered me a line of cocaine. I took it without too much thought. I remember feeling that If I said no, they wouldn’t offer it to me again, and I really wanted to be part of their world.

My use of cocaine progressed quickly. After a few months, I found I was doing it regularly. This concerned me and I found myself depressed and isolated again, wishing to be anywhere else. I decided to take a trip overseas and visit my family in Scotland. This was my first attempt to stop. I was there for 3 weeks and remained alcohol and drug-free the entire time. This gave me a sense of control over my drug use.

When I returned, I started stripping again but was not using drugs. I felt like I had control of my life again. However, tragically a few weeks after I returned from Scotland, my dad died suddenly.

It was hard for me as we had only just started to become close after many years of what I felt was a strained relationship.

This loss was devastating to me, but I felt like I should be handling it better… like I wasn’t entitled to the pain of losing my father like the rest of my family. I was angry at the world and particularly at my mum, I thought it was her fault.

I immediately went back to using cocaine. I felt I had no choice, and that it was the only way I could handle this situation. Things got messy fast. I would come to work after being up for days. This continued for 4 months and lead to my being fired.

I got a job at a different strip club. It didn’t feel the same working there, nothing felt the same as before. The horrible feeling of isolation and not fitting in was more present than ever.

One night they invited me to “kick-ons” after work and they were smoking ice. It was different this time than the first time I used cocaine. It wasn’t about fitting in anymore. I simply didn’t care about anything.

When they passed me the ice pipe, I told them I didn’t know what to do. They showed me how to smoke it. I didn’t have an overly great experience. Looking back, I feel like I went into psychosis right away. I was hearing voices and felt paranoid. I left and went home.

The next day, I immediately returned. I rationalised and justified this to myself. I thought if I was not buying it or using it at home, it was ok, and the cocaine wasn’t really working anymore.

I was terrified to slow down, sleep, or face anything I felt. The only time I felt ok was when I was on drugs. 21 years old and I had a full-blown ice addiction.

I met a guy who was dealing coke, and he was a meth user. I started a year-long relationship with him.

He was physically and mentally abusive. We were on drugs most days. He made me quit stripping and isolated me from everyone I knew.

I was so afraid of him and was deep in a foreign, violent world. I was completely out of my depth. This man was an abusive and violent criminal, and I relied on him for everything.

I had never been around this stuff, being in crack houses and around serious criminals. I felt like this wasn’t who I was meant to be. It went against everything I had ever known. I thought I was going to die so many times, I didn’t know how to leave. I always felt it was safer to go back.

I tried to leave a few times, I would sleep in my car or go to friends’ houses. He would always find me. Even though I was in this situation. I still didn’t want to stop using ice. I tried to hide it from everyone. I was isolated and alone.

This continued for a year. The night I left, he had returned from a night out in psychosis, saying a lot of stuff happened that didn’t. I was afraid he was going to kill me.

He went to sleep, and I left and took all of my stuff. He tracked me down in the Valley a few days later, but I ran away from him.

My daily ice addiction continued, and I knew I was an addict, but I kind of just thought that this was going to be my life now. I didn’t see a solution.

I got my old job back at the first strip club I worked at. I didn’t feel so alone there, and as drugs were a massive part of the culture, I could go to work high and nobody really knew I was on ice. I was in this vicious cycle of addiction, needing to work to get money for drugs and using drugs to be able to work 7 days a week to support my habit.

This went on for about 6 months. I started dating a guy who said he was 18 months clean from serving time in jail. Pretty quickly, he was shooting up ice and heroin. He overdosed in my room multiple times. One time he went out, and I decided I was going to try shooting up by myself because I knew people wouldn’t want to do it for me the first time.

It really hurt. I hit a nerve and injured my arm, but I just kept trying until it felt the way I thought it should.

In 2020 when covid hit, I lost my job, and I had no money or way to support my habit. As a daily ice user, I had never experienced ice withdrawal symptoms for very long before.

I had to move back in with my Mum, and I tried to improve my relationship with my family.

I was still using ice heavily but would justify it to myself by limiting the number of times I used or smoked ice instead of injecting it. These were all ways I tried to show myself I had control.

I could go through ice detox for 4 days but could not bear it any longer than that. I would always find a way to get more. I just made using work for me however I could.

I continued this for another year. At the start of 2021, I decided I was going to reduce the amount I was using. I started to go to the gym and eating healthy again. I made a point of not hanging around the old scene. I preferred to use ice alone, anyway.

It was just me and the drugs. I was always using alone, even though I started using to feel connected at the start. It had really taken everything else away from me.

I tried to be normal, but I knew I was an ice addict and it made me feel so ashamed. I felt so disgusting. In June 2021 I was trying to detox from ice on my own again. This time I could only last a few weeks.

I knew about NA. I went to some meetings in Brisbane but would sit outside and be unable to make myself go in. I would get my life together for a few months, but I would always return to it, and it would always be worse. Without drugs, I couldn’t handle life or my feelings.

Finally, I went to mum and told her I needed help. She helped me get a bed at Hader Clinic Queensland and I was in there 2 days later.

My journey so far hasn’t always been easy, but I have learned so many tools and coping mechanisms to face life on its own terms. The support workers at Hader Clinic Queensland educated me about the disease of addiction and that I wasn’t just a horrible person.

Being with people I could identify with was amazing. Being around the staff and other recovering addicts made me feel a part of something wonderful. I was finally not alone. I had seen a lot of professionals, but I had never been with people who knew about addiction and had a way out.

I learned so much in rehab and got so much hope that there was a way out. Before coming to Hader Clinic Queensland, I had never known anyone that had recovered.

The structure in the detox made detoxing a lot easier than when I tried to do it alone. I felt like I could accept help, as I wasn’t being judged. I originally was going to do 28 days, but I decided to do 90 days. I am so glad I decided to do a longer program. It gave me more time to get a clear mind and let things sink in. The tools I learned there are invaluable and help me every day. The Hader Clinic gave me the foundation I needed to heal.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. The Transitional Housing Program is helping me integrate back into the community. I am kept accountable. I am so grateful for everything I have learned and the people I have met along the way.

I am finally free from the cycle of ice addiction and I know if I use the tools I have learned in rehab, the support of Hader Clinic Queensland’s outpatient program, and my friends in recovery, my future is much brighter.

 

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

Sarah’s Meth Addiction Recovery

Sarah was a meth user, was in abusive relationships, working as a stripper and a sex worker, and homeless. Then she completed residential addiction treatment for her meth addiction. This is her story.

I was a meth user, have lost my home several times, been involved in criminal charges, been homeless, been to court, and eventually been to rehab.

Yesterday, I reached my 7 months clean milestone.

I did a 28-day program at Hader Clinic, which turned into a 90-day program, and I’m now in the transitional housing program. When I finish transition, I’m doing the outpatient program too.

For the first time in my life, I am in a safe, stable environment. This is the story of how I got here.

It all started when I was a teenager. Growing up, I felt like I walked around on eggshells a lot. My dad was quite an aggressive guy, so I had trouble with him. I started using when I was 16; just smoking weed and stuff.

Then, I moved to the UK when I was 17, and lived there for a year. That’s when I started using coke and pills. I ended up moving back to Australia because I was just having a terrible time there. I settled back in with my parents and realised that I really needed to get a job. This is when I started stripping.

I became a stripper, and I was terrible at it. I used to hide from the lady (my manager) – she would be telling me I had to go up on the stage and dance and I’d be so nervous. That’s when I met these girls. I came over to them, and they were smoking meth. I asked, “What is that?”, and they said it was crack and I just sort of thought, okay, cool. And I thought, it’s crack cocaine. I had just finished watching Breaking Bad in the UK, and I remembered Jesse smoking meth.

Pretty quickly after starting to use with them, I was in psychosis, and I found it really hard to hold down a job. I’d get a job in hospitality but couldn’t hold it. At this point, I had stopped stripping. I had had a falling out with the girls because they couldn’t deal with me anymore. I was too intense. I would make bad mistakes and I was all over the place.

After that, I thought I’d try and make an “honest” living, so I started working in this restaurant in the Valley. But really, I couldn’t keep any of these jobs. Inevitably, I’d end up smoking weed, or doing drinks after work, and then I’d turn my phone off and just disappear. I would spend my paycheck on drugs and an outfit that I’d wear the whole week.

I met this girl who was escorting, and I thought, I need to make money; I don’t know what I’m doing, I have nowhere to go. Things were bad with my parents, and they didn’t understand where I was coming from with the things that I was doing. They’d say, “why can’t you just get a job and keep it?” They didn’t really understand what I was experiencing.

So I started sex working. This girl introduced me to it, but I wanted to do it as well because I just wanted money. I didn’t really know what my intention was at the time – it was just about making money, and somehow having a life.

I moved to Sydney and was living at this house with the escort girl and this other guy. At this point, I had decided I wanted to stop using meth. So I put myself into this detox program. It went pretty bad.

I ended up moving in with my abusive partner, and I was off the drugs for a few days. I didn’t like relying on people; I wanted to pay my own way and do my own stuff. I just felt like I was depending on him, so I went back to sex work, made money, and moved out. But he and I were still together.

He had bipolar and was also aggressive. He was pretty messed up. We were on and off for a good while and I was still sex working – that kind of work was all I knew. I was just so anxious, and I couldn’t stop using.

I was doing HeadSpace at the time, and I would go to these drug and alcohol appointments. But I would turn up high. I would do everything external, but I just couldn’t put down the drugs.

My partner and I broke up. He broke my nose in the end, and he was sexually abusive as well. Things were really bad with him.

So I got a new place, and he didn’t know where I lived.

But then there was this other guy.

Before I went into recovery, I found myself bouncing from one guy to another – I was very co-dependent. I could never be on my own, even though all I wanted was to be on my own.

I didn’t want to be with him at all. I wanted to be independent – I had recently gotten out of this terrible relationship. But this guy just wouldn’t go away.

He would help me with a lot of things, and he was always there. He didn’t know I did drugs. I decided to be honest with him and just say, look, I’m struggling with coming off drugs, and he would use that against me.

I ended up once again losing my place and moving in with him. I lived with him, and I’d see my parents over Christmas. I would fly to Brisbane for Christmas and would tell myself, I’ll come off the drugs in Brisbane, then fly back to Sydney and get my life together.

It was 2020, and all my stuff was in Sydney. My parents said, we can get your stuff from Sydney, and you can stay here in Brisbane to work things out. And I thought, okay, cool. I didn’t want to go to Sydney – back to him – and work things out. My life was falling apart, and I had no control over anything; he was very controlling of me. I felt like I had to explain myself to him all the time, and he was just awful.

I’d tell him things that my abusive ex had said, like the time he had threatened to kill me, and then he would start saying it to me as well. I was using too, and things were just bad.

So I went back to Sydney to get all my stuff and came back to Brisbane, which is when all the covid stuff started to happen. I ended up relapsing in Sydney. During my stay in Brisbane, I had been off the drugs, but as soon as I was back in Sydney, I found drugs again.

It was hard being back in Sydney. I saw my old DV counsellor, said goodbye to her, and my heart would race, just being there. It still makes me sick, even just thinking about my time in Sydney.

As soon as we returned to Brisbane, I was trying to sort out counselling appointments for myself. But I ended up speaking to an old friend and asked if she was still using. She was, so I went and saw her.

Things got pretty bad then.

I had never previously had any problems with the police. Ever. I never reached that point where I was getting charges.

It was still 2020, and I started hanging out with her, using meth all the time. I met this other guy, and he was in and out of jail.

I ended up getting involved in crime. I got charged with possession and got raided by the police. Those were my first charges – I was living in a hostel at this point. The guy went to jail. My parents got raided too and had to move house. They wouldn’t tell me where they lived; they said they were done with me.

I got involved in this thing with this guy before he went to jail. I got charged with deprivation of liberty. There was this other guy and basically, he was held hostage and ended up getting stabbed. I got charged because I was involved. It was a pretty hectic charge.

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I used to think I was innocent when I was sex-working, but I know that’s not really true. Compared to the person I became in 2020, I don’t even know who that person was. I thought I was cool. I thought I was this criminal. I thought, this is my life now, I’m just a junkie.

So I was living in this hostel, and he was in jail, and I didn’t end up getting charged until about March 2021.

I was charged with category R weaponry possession charges.

That’s when that guy in Sydney came back into my life. He randomly called me, and he was helping me with money and the charges. He knew all these lawyers.

Living in that hostel, I could barely afford to feed myself, and I thought f*** it, I’ll start taking money from him.

I was thinking, everyone’s screwed me over, I deserve this. I reached an ugly state in my mind where I didn’t give a shit about anyone except myself. I was living disgustingly in that hostel. I ended up hotel hopping from that hostel – he was paying for it.

I had no criminal record with the weapon possession charges. In around April of 2021, the cops came to my mate’s door – they had found me, put me on this charge, and in October of that year I went to court for it, with the Sydney guy’s help. He was like, you need to go to rehab and do this 28-day program. He expected me to have him in my life after.

I went into the program, and my parents came back into my life. I had actually been living on the streets for a couple of weeks, homeless, and I was completely lost. I thought “I don’t deserve to live anywhere, I don’t deserve to have anything”. I didn’t want the guy from Sydney’s help, I didn’t want to be in the situation I was in, and I didn’t want to be facing the charges, but I was.

I hit this crossroad. I didn’t even feel worthy enough to sex work. I felt so worthless, so disgusting, that I couldn’t even do that.

I felt like a putrid human being.

I called my parents in July of last year when I went into rehab. I said, “look, I’m facing these charges and I’m going to go do rehab for 28 days”, and they said, “we’re on board. We’re going to help you.”

And that was really weird. They told me where they lived, and this whole door opened up, as soon as I mentioned I was going to do this rehab. Ever since then, they came back into my life.

After 28 days at Hader Clinic Queensland, I chose to stay on and do the 90-day program. Now I’m in transition.

I didn’t feel like it was enough, the 28-day program. I had never heard about NA before, and going to all these meetings, with all these people I could relate to… it was strange. It was so foreign being around people who understood me.

I’d never felt understood by other people, and the more meetings I did, I realised I wanted and needed more of this. I wanted to stay longer.

The transition house was never even a part of my plan or doing the 90 days, but the fact that I could stay longer, and build a foundation upon a foundation, was just amazing. I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do that, with my parents back in my life and supporting me.

Being an addict and using, my world felt so alone and isolated. Within the first week at Hader, I had one of the support workers knocking on my door like “C’mon! Come do boot camp!” I went along, and as I approached the group and saw everyone, I just broke down crying.

The three months I spent in rehab helped me overcome my fear of being around others; it helped me become social again. I’m with people who understand, including the staff at Hader, many of whom are previous addicts. The whole connection thing and being in a safe environment with other people who relate to you, being stable, and focusing purely on your recovery is cool.

As of yesterday, I’m 7 months clean.

It’s weird. I’ve never been in one place. I’ve always felt like I had to run away; run away from myself. I’ve never felt stable or comfortable.

This is the first time I’ve felt like I’m in a stable and comfortable environment. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable; being uncomfortable in a comfortable place. I’m not used to being in a safe environment.

In 7 months, a lot has happened. I’ve been stable, which is a change.

I’m in the transition program until March.

I’m still nervous about it all, going forward with my life. But after the transition program, I’m going to be doing the outpatient program as well. That’s really going to help me.

I’ve chosen to live with my parents and slowly work my way up to getting a job. Knowing that I’ve got the outpatient program to help me makes me feel so much better. Even doing the UDSs (urine drug screening). I love that because it gives me accountability. I don’t trust myself – I know what I’ve been like in the past, and I don’t know what’s out there that could potentially trigger something for me. It’s kind of scary, not living with the other recovering addicts. I’ll still be seeing them at check-in though, and that’s a bit of a relief.

When I was living in the UK, I started working in aged care and disability. Eventually, long-term I’d like to study and work in that area. My ultimate goal is to become a nurse. I’d love that.

I’m excited, because now, I can really start working toward that future.

 

Kristen’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

When Kristen went to rehab, she had no intentions of giving up drinking. Her plan was to do a 90-day residential addiction treatment at the Hader Clinic Queensland, and then carry on drinking. She didn’t know any other way. It turned out Kristen can live without alcohol.

This is her story.

My name is Kristen. It’s been 4 years since I completed the 90-day residential rehab program and outpatient program for my alcohol addiction. I was in active addiction for over 25 years. I’m sober now.

I had a normal childhood. I had a Mum, Dad, nice home, and didn’t want anything else. My mother had a short temper. In those days, it was expected that children behave; if they didn’t, they were punished. My punishments usually involved high levels of violence from my mother.

My father was an alcoholic – though he was a kind, gentle man.

My parents gave me a lot of freedom when I was a teen, but not a lot of education around that freedom. I had my first son when I was very young, and I wouldn’t change it for the world now. Mum and Dad were very supportive, and now I have a beautiful grandson who’s 16. I finished school and completed an apprenticeship. I met my now ex-husband, got married, and had two more beautiful children.

My husband was very dominating and controlling – he never hit me, but he made me feel less-than, useless, stupid, and inadequate.

I couldn’t make decisions about anything…. ever!!!!

We were very social. We’d often go out or entertain at home; birthday parties, anniversaries, sporting events…. any excuse to celebrate.

Drinking enabled me to talk – I was quiet and had no self-confidence. I’ve realised since I’ve been sober that even back then, when I drank, I drank to get drunk. There were never 1 or 2 drinks – what’s the point? I always drank to get drunk. I never thought, even in the later years, that there was anything wrong with that.

We’d go to barbeques, and all the mothers would sit together with half a glass of wine that had long gone warm, and I’d be drinking with the men. I’d often think, “what’s wrong with you ladies?” not “what’s wrong with me?”  Social events to me, were an excuse to drink, and to drink was to get drunk……every time.

My husband was always the one who would take the kids home after a night out. I would usually stay and party.

I could never guarantee my behaviour when I was drinking. I wanted attention – attention from other men mostly. It was inappropriate, and all as a result of drinking.

In the beginning, it was at events I’d be drinking – I didn’t really drink at home. In my 30s, I started drinking at home – just on weekends. But then it progressed and became every day.

At around age 40, my drinking really started to escalate. My ex-husband told me he wasn’t interested in me anymore, but he didn’t believe in divorce. He firmly believed marriage was “til death do us part” – even if you’re miserable. And I believed I wouldn’t be able to make a life for myself and the kids on my own.

For the last 10 years I was drinking daily, it was just me and alcohol. I isolated and withdrew from the world. I would black-out every time I drank. By the end of my drinking career, just a couple of drinks caused me to black out. What few memories I have of this time are not good ones.

I used to sit in my room in the evenings, alone, watching TV and drinking. I’d write myself notes about what I was doing; what I cooked for dinner, what time I went to bed etc. Just so I knew what happened each night.

In 2016, I had weight loss surgery, and things really became bad then. After that surgery, my tolerance for alcohol was greatly reduced. Though, that didn’t stop me from consuming the same quantities I always had.

Most nights, my ex-husband would find me in various places around the house, passed out.

One night, I fell passed out on a chair outside, and was leaning up against the doghouse. It compressed a nerve in my upper arm; this caused my hand to become paralysed for 7-8 months. I woke up and I couldn’t move my hand at all.

I was always covered in bruises and scratches. I had no idea how I got them. I’d long stopped going out anywhere drinking. I would go to work each day, finish at lunch time. Then I’d go home and drink for the rest of the day.

In 2017, I came to Brisbane to care for my mother after she had an operation. I lost my job at home, so decided to stay with my mother indefinitely…. my drinking progressed even more. I would take my first drink the moment I woke in the morning.

My feet and legs were turning purple. I was a mess. I was underweight too – 56 kgs, skin and bone.

Eventually, I was sat down by my ex-husband who said, once again, “You’ve got to stop.”

I wasn’t happy. I wouldn’t listen to anybody – especially him of all people.

He put me into the Damascus detox unit first. I had two stints there. Both times I left, my first stop was the pub, which is right next door.

They gave me a lot of education about what alcohol was doing to my body physically, but it didn’t take away the need to drink.

It was July of 2017 when my ex-husband said I had to go to the Hader Clinic Queensland. It was a family intervention, I guess. By that time, I had no fight left in me. I thought, I can’t live without alcohol, I’ll die if I can’t drink. I also knew if I continued down the path I was on, it would kill me.

It was the best thing he ever did for me, and I’ve thanked him for it.

I didn’t know what to expect at Hader. It saved my life. There were routines and rules, and I loved that. The routine I learnt in there, is one I still use today. We exercised daily. There were group classes, discussions, meetings, weekly rostered cleaning and cooking duties, weekly social trips out to various places, art classes, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions.

Hader Clinic Queensland introduced me to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would go to meetings daily. It has saved my life. I used to think it had changed my life, but it has changed me. Taught me how to live.

At some point during rehab, things started clicking for me. I can’t remember the specific day. But going to those meetings, and just seeing people with happy smiling faces, that feeling of connection and belonging, and just realising that I wasn’t the only one, I wasn’t alone, really changed things for me. I learnt that I suffered from the disease of alcoholism. I wasn’t a bad person; I was a sick person.

I was lying in bed one night, doing my meditation. My eyes were closed, and I saw this white light. I don’t know if I was asleep and dreaming, or still awake, but I felt this sense of calm. I remember thinking, Jesus… there really must be something to all this.

When I left Hader I didn’t want or need to drink. That insanity was gone. I do remember thinking in the first few days though, this is all too hard, too much work (Alcoholics Anonymous has a few things they suggest we do to maintain our sobriety……and they aren’t hard, really). My next thought was, you know what, no one else is going to do it for you, so just get on with it. Now, what I thought was hard work, is my routine. And it is keeping me sober.

I did the Aftercare & Relapse Prevention program with the Hader Clinic Queensland. My ex-husband supported me financially. I travelled all over the place to different AA meetings.

When I was 6 months sober, I went back home to visit the kids, thinking I’d be fine. But I wasn’t.

I was in the same house; it was just the same. I had a drink. Then I came back to Brisbane.

That madness was back in my head.

I wanted to drink. Though I didn’t, I wanted to. I kept going to meetings, kept doing what I’d been doing since leaving Hader – I didn’t want to do rehab again.

I was white knuckling it.

On the 5th of June 2018, I said fuck it. I’m going to have a drink – a big drink. I can’t fight this anymore. But I’ll be civilised, and I won’t have it till 5pm. I went to an AA meeting, then caught the train home. I was trying to meditate but knew that I would be going to the bottle shop straight after doing a few other things. I heard a story during that meeting. He said, I’ve lost my home, lost my family, and all I’ve got left is myself. That just kept going round in my head. I’m the same. All I have left is myself. And if I drink today, I’ll lose that too.

By the time I’d done my errands, I realised I didn’t want that drink anymore. The thought, the urge, had gone. That voice telling me to drink was quiet. It had been about 5 weeks since that drink at home.

So, I didn’t drink that day. I cried. I sat down and cried, because I knew, if I had had a drink that day, I would have got 2 bottles of wine and a litre bottle of vodka and had a decent drink like the good old days. I would have drunk it all.

I then got myself a sponsor and continued to work the steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

This day was 5 June 2018, which just happens to be my late father’s birthday. I believe my dad and my higher power saved me that day.

Today, I’ve mended my relationships with my children and extended family. I’ve got a great job. I can live life. It’s just amazing.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning to start my day, is to sit and read the Daily Reflections. I’ve always done that. I say a prayer. They’ve changed over time, but the main one is to thank God that I’ve woken up, thank God I’m sober, and thank God for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘Please help me turn my fear into faith and show me where I can be of service to others’.

These are all things I’ve learned in the last 4 years.

After I’ve read and done my prayers, I exercise. I go to boot camp. That was another thing we did in Hader, the exercise – something I’ve always liked. They’re a great group of people. It’s called PEPT – positive existence personal training. It’s feel-good stuff. I’ve got some great friends out of that.

My partner and I enjoy going away and attending various social events. When I was drinking, I’d have a bottle of wine before I’d even left the house. In social situations now, the thought of a drink doesn’t even enter my mind. I don’t want it. I’m not looking for it. It’s just not a thing. It’s as though I was never a drinker. There’s no thought or effort on my part.

It’s amazing.

And guess what!!! I can go out and have a great time. I can go to pubs for a meal, go to an 80s night with a live band, dress up, have fun and dance. I can drive home and remember the great night.

I have an amazing partner. He loves the AA program too – he’s never been in addiction, though he has been to meetings with me. He gets so much out of them too.

He’s seen what AA has done for me; he saw me at my worst.

I’ve learned so much. It’s a real program for living.

I never thought life could be so good. My kids want to be a part of my life now. I don’t see my daughter all the time, due to distance. The last time I saw her, she was just watching me, and her jaw was pretty much on the floor. She said to me, “I’ve never seen you like this mum. You’re so happy.”

My youngest child was 25 when I got sober. My kids missed out on a lot because my drinking always came first. They have forgiven me. They are grateful I am well.

They want to be a part of my life now. They’ll stay with me. They’ll ring me. They’ll ask me for advice. They’ll leave my grandkids with me.

I’ve recently got my first “sponsee” (person I sponsor) and am enjoying taking her through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’m also looking into doing H and I (Hospitals and Institutions, a committee of AA members that carry the message of AA to alcoholics in hospitals, prisons and other institutions).

I look forward to life every day. I love waking up in the morning and living life on life’s terms.

I just love what the Hader Clinic Queensland has done for me…. a second chance at life. Thank you.

Renee’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

A successful psychologist, Renee never thought she’d be the one needing help. After an unsuccessful rehab stint overseas, Renee attended the Hader Clinic Queensland for alcohol addiction treatment. This is her story.

It wasn’t until I was 37 that I had my first drink.

Growing up, I had a very normal childhood and upbringing. I was raised in a Christian family, and particularly in the church back then, alcohol was very taboo. It was frowned upon, and people just didn’t do it.

In my family, we were never allowed it. There was never a drop of alcohol anywhere in the house. Or when we went out. If you were to drink, that would be a big deal. I was never exposed to it as a teen or even as a young adult.

I got married at 18 because back then, you were encouraged to get married rather than have sex outside of marriage. It didn’t really matter if it was the wrong person. I was married for 18 years.

My husband left me when I was 37, and that’s when I first started drinking.

I realised at the time, that it numbed the pain. It gave me some relief from the feeling. That was my introduction to what I thought was the benefit of drinking.

After that, I realised that I didn’t even like the taste, but I liked the effect. So, at the end of the day, I would have a glass of wine, just to settle me before bed. It became a regular thing, that one glass. Then that built up to two, and then three, and then a bottle, and then two bottles.

I always knew it was a problem. And I was very proud that I could get away with it. I didn’t really think I was an alcoholic, just high functioning.

I’m a psychologist, and it wouldn’t affect my work. I would work every day. I knew my limits for me to maintain my work schedule during the week. I would go harder on the weekends because I knew I could. I thought I wasn’t like anyone else. I thought I’m not harming anyone, it’s not doing any damage, so why can’t I do this?

However, my husband (I got remarried), who has been wonderful through all this, would regularly say to me that he felt lonely at night. He said it was like I wasn’t there; like I was checking out. He felt lonely in that period. I wasn’t nasty or rude, but I was absent.

Out in public, you couldn’t pick it. When I was out with friends, I wouldn’t drink. I didn’t drink for the taste and one drink wouldn’t do anything for me, so I’d rather not. Then I’d go home, go to the bedroom, and down a bottle.

In 2018, I went to rehab in Thailand. It was great. I went for a month. It was very luxurious – like a resort, and quite cheap. They had lots of psychologists, the accommodation was luxurious, and there were celebrities there. But it ended up failing, and I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, which gave me results.

I did enjoy rehab in Thailand, but after returning, I was sober for about 6 months. One thing I didn’t do when I left rehab was attend any AA meetings. It was wonderful while I was there, but after I came back, I didn’t give it anything.

Hader Clinic has been life-changing.

One thing I didn’t ever want to do because of my profession, was go to AA meetings. With our AHPRA registration, if people find out you’re an alcoholic, it has the potential to affect your registration. It was a big barrier for me in getting help. In fact, for anyone in the medical profession, it’s a big barrier. You’ve got to really trust the people in the rooms, and I didn’t really trust the people, especially here at the Sunny Coast where I’m known (I practice psychology here).

My husband dropped me off at Hader Clinic, and I couldn’t believe it; the first day, that afternoon, they said we were going to an AA meeting. The meeting location was in the area where I lived.

I couldn’t believe it.

I was really shocked that first night. I was close to going back home, after hearing I’d have to attend a meeting. It had really annoyed me and scared me.

But one thing Hader Clinic Queensland did well was the meetings. Every day we had to go to a meeting, and the more I went, the more I got used to it, and I didn’t feel so paranoid about what it would be like. It was different to what I thought it would be.

Over in Thailand, we only did it once a week. I think it was the biggest point of difference between the two rehabs.

That first meeting was scary. I was just scanning the room for anyone who might possibly know me, thinking, who do I know, who do I know? Being a psychologist, I was looking around to see if there was anyone there I had worked with. I couldn’t really relax or enjoy it because I was too busy scanning the room.

It took me a few sessions to calm down. But what worked was the next night when we went to Cotton Tree for the women’s NA.

I walked in and I did know someone in the room.

I looked at this woman, and it was my worst fear – seeing someone that knew me in a professional capacity. She came up to me after the meeting and gave me a big hug, and just said, “Welcome. It’s so good to see you.”

I was quite overwhelmed with how she just accepted me, and that there was no judgement.

After that, I was fine and realised my fear was all in my head.

I think the strength of Hader Clinic is the support staff. They were great. JJ was awesome, and Mark, and Donna.

The staff were just amazing. And the psychologist I had too, she was good to work with.

The staff, meetings, and family components were the standout things for me.

I’ve got adult children, some with partners. So when I was in rehab, they all did the family therapy program. It became this whole investment; the family became a big part of it.

My family were really invested, so it put pressure on me in a good way to step up. When they’re all invested, it makes me want to do my best. It’s another layer, realising that my drinking has an impact on the family as well.

We’ve had rules since I’ve been out. They all drink around me, but they must take the alcohol with them; it’s not to remain at the house.

Another thing that’s really helped me is that my husband’s never had any alcohol around me. If we go out, he won’t drink. At home, he won’t drink. Wherever I am, he won’t drink, and it’s been helpful.

Having family be a part of rehab is huge. I feel differently now. I don’t feel like a failure anymore. I feel like I modelled something to my family. I showed them what it’s like to go and get help. I also modelled to them that it doesn’t matter how addiction presents, it’s not okay, and this is what you should do.

I feel as if I’ve created a bit of a legacy in the family. Potentially something that was quite shameful, shame-filled, and negative, became a real positive for me.

I’m nine months sober now. I never thought making it through Christmas and New Year would be possible, but I did. The kids tell me how proud they are of me.

Thank you to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me get where I am today.

 

The Last Year Has Been Wonderful

Tia recently shared her incredible story “Ice: to hell and back” about her recovery from ice addiction. Now Orazia, Tia’s mother, has kindly shared her side of Tia’s addiction and recovery.

Hello, my name is Orazia and I’m a business owner and wife. I’m also a mother to three children.

My youngest daughter, Tia, is an addict, and participated in The Hader Clinic Queensland residential addiction rehabilitation program, as well as the transitional housing program.

I am happy to report that 21 year old Tia has remained clean since attending rehab and is currently over a year clean.

She has turned her life around for the better.

Since leaving the transition housing program in January, Tia has participated in the intensive outpatient program, which she found very beneficial.

We also moved from Brisbane to the coast, which was also helpful as it provided all of us with a fresh start.

Through the Hader Clinic Queensland’s Family Education program, I have learned that relapse can be triggered by people, places and things. I remember Tia telling me that when she came home to live with us in our old place in Brisbane that it was challenging because she had previously used in our home.

She reported “feeling constricted” and openly shared that she was feeling a bit wobbly and uncertain. Whereas on the coast, she feels good.

It took a little while before I understood the trouble that Tia was in.

My older children warned me repeatedly that something was “off” and as time went by, we could see that she wasn’t doing well. Something was not right.

Eventually we discovered that she’d been using drugs and what started was a four year cycle where she’d come home for a bit, then leave for days.

We never really knew where she was or what she was doing. I remember taking her to family functions where I could see that she was using to try and cope.

I soon came to learn that this was typical addict behaviour.

We investigated things a bit more and discovered that we were stereotypical enabling parents.

If she needed a bed, we’d provide it. Food? Of course, no problem and money? Well we thought that we were helping her out. Eventually we noticed that money was being stolen from our home.

What brought everything to a head, was that I went away on a pre planned trip overseas. I arrived home to see Tia passed out in her bed and strangers in our house coming and going. It was the final straw to have my home violated like that.

We kicked Tia out of home and changed the locks so that she couldn’t come home.

We decided that we needed to get Tia to rehab and we tried some government funded ones but could not get her to go.

Every time I thought we had a chance, she’d do a runner. I’d stay up most of the night watching her and when I thought it was finally safe to go to sleep, she’d be off again.

Eventually we got in touch with Hayden and Olivia at the Hader Clinic Queensland and forced Tia into rehab. She was starting to become more ready as without access to home or money, she was starting to consider rehab as an option.

Eventually we got her into the residential rehab program, a day later than planned as she’d done yet, another runner.

As parents, we felt a wonderful sense of relief knowing where she was, that she was safe and that she was being treated.

At this point, we had felt that her only other options were being on the street, overdosing, dead or in jail. I remember her doctor not having so much concerns about her habits but wanting to immediately address that her organs were likely shutting down.

It was a grim time.

As parents, we found The Hader Clinic Queensland’s program amazing.

The clinic educated us as parents and gave the addict what they needed – time away from the distractions of life and technology to really focus on their issues. We were always kept in the loop about Tia’s progress and we found the family nights invaluable for both giving and receiving support – it was comforting to know that there were other parents battling the same issues.

I think we were lucky that Tia got into rehab when she did – her brain wasn’t completely ‘fried’ and as she detoxed, she became more articulate and reasonable. She was always an intelligent kid and quickly worked out that she didn’t want to be in a using environment.

Rehab wasn’t without bumps though.

She got kicked out for having sex with another resident attending rehab.

Second time around, however, she returned to rehab with a better mindset. She stayed in residential rehab for another month. Then realised that if she was to go home immediately, that she would have “nothing to support me” as we were still working and doing what we needed to do in our own lives.

The transition housing program was the best option for us. It gave Tia some freedoms, yet it put structure and the all important accountability in place. She craved structure and wanted recovery.

I was so impressed and grateful at how the whole program runs as a whole. I remember Mel from the Hader Clinic Queensland telling me that if a client says that the “program didn’t work” then that client was probably “not working the program”.

She was 100% correct. I

have a background in counselling and the tools that the clinic give you to manage life and recovery are just amazing.

I also learned that Tia was not being an addict to be malicious towards us, she was just doing what addicts do.

I believe that it’s important that you want recovery. Tia wanted recovery and I think that is one factor that keeps her clean today.

Since leaving rehab, Tia gave plenty of thought to what she wanted to do and is completing a Certificate of Mental Health at TAFE. I

t’s kept her busy and doing exams and assessment is completely new for her as she left school after Year Ten. She reckons it’s been a bit of a learning curve, but a good one.

I want Tia to make sure that she’s working on herself, doing things for herself and having her own career and most of all, having the capacity to become self sufficient.

Especially as Tia is six months’ pregnant. Initially it was a bit of a shock, but she is determined to have the baby and be a mum. She met her partner at NA, and they are both committed to staying clean.

In fact, if anything, since falling pregnant, Tia has cut even more ties with previous associates etc. She wants this baby to have the best.  We, of course, will support her in every way we can.

We are impressed by, and grateful to, The Hader Clinic Queensland, for changing our lives for the better.

The last year has been wonderful, and we are looking forward to the future.

A Letter from Racquel

This is a letter from Racquel, who undertook our residential addiction treatment program for her addiction to alcohol. She has kindly allowed us to share it.

To my dear (Hader) family, (staff and clients that I know),

I am typing this letter as, sadly, not many people can read my handwriting.

I first want to say an overwhelming thank you to the staff for your guidance, shared experiences and knowledge, as a group and individually. My time at Hader Clinic Queensland was well overdue, but I expect came just at the right time!

As you know through my sharing time and life story, my life was on a crash and burn spiral where I felt as if there would be no tomorrow – as I felt as though there was nothing in the future to look forward to.

This all started to change the day after I arrived at the rehab when I read the book “What is an addict?”.  I realised (stuff a duck),  I did have a problem!

Even on the day I arrived, I was still not convinced that my situation was critical, but I did know I had to do something soon, otherwise I would lose my daughter’s respect, my health, my sense of self-worth (which was dwindling fast) and would become so critical of my husband as he was always interstate with work.

I felt dislike creeping in, which was a horrid feeling.

Not only did being at Hader Clinic Queensland give me a sense of fellowship, but I felt as if I belonged and that I wasn’t alone. That may sound a bit sad to some, but it was where I was supposed to be, the only place I should have been at that time.

I learned things that I had unlearned. I gained a respect for those around me through their experiences, their suffering, their growth and recognition of their personal dilemma which in some cases almost came as a lightning bolt.

To this day I have not had a drink (495 days) and I have no inkling to do so. I have made contact with my fellowship and speak to their rep, but I have not visited. Step by step, I am very aware they are near, and he has reached out and made himself available when and if I need him.

When I got home, I was surprised at all the work my husband had done around the farm, things that had to be done but due to my health, got left.

He had also stopped drinking, lost eight kgs (he has lost a further four up to now), started to eat properly, is no longer pre-diabetic due to abstinence of alcohol, and his attitude has also changed for the better: much more considerate as he now knows that I had a problem.

There are many things I have put into practise that I planned to do when I got home and they were specifically for me, to get MY life back.

  • I now have two cars in my name. I bought myself a car and we have bought a new ute for the farm and it is in my name.
  • It has taken a while but I’m seeing more of my daughter and she has taken control of her illness.
  • My physical fitness while at Hader Clinic Queensland improved immensely and I regained my confidence to go the extra mile to get fit. When I got back I was walking every day, until my last surgery, but I will soon be on track again.
  • I now speak up if I’m not happy with a situation.
  • I have steered away from friends who are negative or not just not good for me.
  • I have put my name down for volunteer work at the age care facility my parents went to with the intention of helping the residents write their own life story, not only for them but for their family.
  • The Covid-19 situation is lingering but because of where we live in Victoria, our restrictions are at level three and we have a lot more freedom which I guess helps a lot with any mental health issues.
  • I have finally got around to updating my DVA and medical appointments, which were well overdue.
  • And I have started reading again which has become one of my greatest joys.

So, this note is to say thank you with all my heart and I hope you all continue to do such amazing work for people like me.

THANK YOU!

With great respect,
Racquel

Living with an Addict During COVID-19 Lockdown

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

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

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

Be prepared

During lock down active addicts might:

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

Recovering addicts might:

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

Dealing with an addict during lockdown

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

Dos

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

Don’ts

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

Starting addiction treatment during lockdown

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

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

Enabling

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

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

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

We recommend taking the time to learn more about enabling.

Online Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay connected

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

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

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

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

Where To Get Further Help And Support

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

Domestic Violence in Lockdown

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

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

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

Robyn’s Addiction Recovery Story

“That first drink was super intense, the excitement of it felt intoxicating. From that moment, I couldn’t put it down.”

I’m Robyn. I’ve just turned 24 and I’m Brisbane born and bred. I’ve spent the last twelve years working in hospitality. At the moment I’m studying to become a nurse.

My foray into active addiction started at fourteen or fifteen. There’s maybe a mental health component as when I was growing up my mother was diagnosed with Bipolar disease. She was a huge binge drinker and this was a big issue for me.

I thought that my mother’s experience would scare me off alcohol, but it wasn’t to be. That first drink was super intense, the excitement of it felt intoxicating. From that moment, I couldn’t put it down. After that, I would be trying to drink or do drugs with any chance I had.

In those teenage years there was also a lot of partying which included all of the party drugs that go with it.

I had a fairly strict upbringing. Being the eldest, I was the “test and trial” child and I felt a lot of pressure growing up. My Mum is now considered stable but she definitely had her moments along the way. She was misdiagnosed at first and ended up being on a cocktail of all the wrong drugs, which ended up in a lot of medication abuse.

At nineteen, I entered into a relationship with an abusive alcoholic. Within that relationship I was raped. This experience now gave me a valid reason to abuse drugs and alcohol. Plus, I liked it.

My alcohol abuse really took off. I added weed and party drugs in there for good measure. I abused this combination of substances for quite a while and then I was introduced to meth. This turned out to be a pretty hectic addiction, especially in the last year. I had dabbled in it previously, but nothing like this.

It would be fair to say that if it wasn’t meth, it was something else. There was always something in my system, whether it was prescription drugs or alcohol. Alcohol was always my “go to” though, it’s legal and cheap and it was accessible where ever I went.

I went to my first rehab in 2018 – because my mum gave me an ultimatum. She said, “you either go to rehab or I’m dropping you in the Valley right now”. I was even considering being homeless because I knew I would have been able to survive. Plus, I would have been able to do what I wanted for a really long time. I didn’t think my life amounted to much, there were times where I felt quite happy at the prospect of dying. I had no purpose in my life.

The rehab itself was residential and I was there for seven to eight weeks. It was a public facility, and the first week I went into transition, I relapsed. There were AA meetings, but I felt like I was just a body in the room going through the motions. There was no “12 Steps”.

I wasn’t ready mentally. I went to the rehab for my family, I wasn’t there for myself from the outset. Before rehab I was admitted into an involuntary psychiatric ward to detox as they knew that I was going to rehab.

When I was in there, I got sexually assaulted again and my family wouldn’t talk to me for a month.

I was as fragile as all hell. I knew going in there, that I would eventually have to start my “doing life” shit alone. I had felt like everybody had let me down. There was no “safety” in anybody. I didn’t have any friends that I could trust or rely upon.

After that first stint at rehabilitation I moved out of home. I realised that I could survive, even if I didn’t have a job because I was on the NewStart allowance. I realised that I was accountable to no one and that I could do as I pleased.

That year led to super heavy meth use, I was doing sex work, doing whatever by any means to survive, it was really crazy. I really don’t remember much of the past year.

I got kicked out of my apartment and decided to try and go back to public rehab because I knew I really needed help and I also knew how to use and drink in there and get away with it. It was so fucked up. At this point I really thought that I couldn’t be helped at all, doing all of this in a treatment centre whilst heavily using.

Got booted out of there eventually, and spent a couple of weeks at home.

I was at my lowest of lows. When you don’t think things can get any worse, it really does.

I tried to take my own life.

I cut my wrist with a steak knife and got sixteen stitches. I couldn’t care about the cut. All I cared about was the Fentanyl they were giving me. I was that sick.

My parents really reached out. Dad’s a shift worker for the government and he reached into his superannuation to get me into the Hader Clinic Queensland. And it’s saved my life, I really mean that.

I was really ready for rehab this time. If I hadn’t gone, there’d be a good chance that I’d be dead by now.

My parents never enabled me, ever. I always had to steal, which is probably the worst part. When I was about to go to rehab, they put me into complete lockdown. Even though we live out in the country, they wouldn’t even let me go for walks. They knew I’d simply catch an Uber into town to get a fix.

I was really contained, because as you probably know, if an addict wants something, it’s amazing the lengths they will go to in order to make it happen.

I tell myself that I can be that smart and that resourceful with my recovery these days.

I didn’t know what day I was going to be admitted to rehab, however it transpired that I was drinking the night before, probably 25-30 standard drinks, then I had some Seroquel in the morning so I could sleep it off during the day.

Then mum came home and told me to pack my bags, that I was going to Hader that day. My body was so blocked up and dehydrated I couldn’t even do a good UDS (urine drug screen) for a week and a half.

They had me on a drug reduction, but that didn’t do too much because I was a heavy benzo user as well. Otherwise, the rest of my body felt wonderful for withdrawing.

I was completely desperate. I was so happy to go to rehab.

It took me a bit to settle in which surprised me, given that I’ve been to two rehabs already.

However, on feeling more settled, I began to feel welcomed.

The biggest difference was that I was now part of a therapeutic community rather than just being another number at residential rehab.

Psych ed taught me the value of community and the fellowship in rehab taught me how to make connections with others, how to communicate and how we were going to be able to use these skills once back in the real world.

Finally, I in was also in an environment where I felt safe. It was so much safer than what I’d been exposed to previously. There was no drug use, no illicit substances. This helped me feel safe.

I learned tools to deal with challenges to my safety and stability which will happen, regardless, in the real world.

It was awesome not having a phone and the staff were completely and utterly supportive. I tried to get as much as I could out of the staff as they all have lived experience and are completely relatable. Mark, Robyn and Maria were particularly helpful to me. They were paramount to my recovery.

Even though the first couple of weeks were hazy, I feel like the switch was flipped when I went to my first meeting in Cooroy. Even though I’ve been in and out of meeting rooms, at this particular meeting I thought, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do ninety meetings in ninety days”.

I started to look forward to doing a meeting every single day. From that first meeting I knew that “shit was changing.. right now”. I didn’t feel like “a body in the room” anymore. I wasn’t just “talking the talk”, I was now actively engaged and involved.

Since I have left rehab, I have moved back home with my parents. I am participating in the intensive outpatient program. I’m looking to extend that period out for another month. My priority is getting to a meeting, finding a home group and placing my recovery first.

My family are supporting me as well by attending Al Anon. They’re getting more understanding about addiction as a disease and discovering things about me that they just never knew. They have been very supportive.

Despite all the world uncertainty, one thing is for certain, my recovery comes first.

I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for saving my life.

COVID-19 & Addiction Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Effect Of A Worldwide Illicit Drug Shortage Upon Addiction Sufferers

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

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

Entering into rehabilitation will reduce these risks.

The Effect Of A Coronavirus Infection Upon Addiction Sufferers

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

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

The Effect Of Economic Impact Of Coronavirus On Addiction Sufferers

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

The Effect Of An Overworked Hospital System Upon Addiction Sufferers

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

Rehabilitation Insulates Sufferers From Stress And Teaches Appropriate Coping Mechanisms

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

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

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

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

References: 

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

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

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