Women and Addiction Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

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.

Living with an Addict During COVID-19 Lockdown

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

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

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

Be prepared

During lock down active addicts might:

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

Recovering addicts might:

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

Dealing with an addict during lockdown

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


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


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

Starting addiction treatment during lockdown

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

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


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

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

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

We recommend taking the time to learn more about enabling.

Online Support

Actively seeking out online support groups ( i.e. 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.


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

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

25 Years of Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s about learning as you go.

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

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

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

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

Addiction doesn’t discriminate even towards professionals.

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

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

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

I can see where it all started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was deported from America.

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

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

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

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

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

I was incapable of parenting my son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My last relapse lasted eighteen months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drugs have cost me self-respect and my spirituality.

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

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

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

Someone I don’t even recognise.

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

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

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

The therapeutic community aspect is fantastic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all about taking action which really counts.

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

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

Rosie’s Addiction Recovery Story

Rosie has been wrestling with addiction for fourteen years. Now 33, she has just completed rehab at The Hader Clinic Queensland. Here she shares her rollercoaster recovery story and what she learned that will help keep her in recovery.

I’m 33 now and have just completed a ninety day residential addiction treatment program at the Hader Clinic Queensland. I actually joined the fellowship at age 19, after my first rehabilitation and have had extended periods of time where I’ve managed to stay clean and times when I’ve relapsed, often for a few years at a time.

My drug of choice? I would have happily taken anything and everything, but mainly I used heroin.

I ended up in rehab at the age of twenty. I tried a Naltrexone implant but that only stopped me from using the one drug. That’s when I realised that I had a problem with all drugs. I thought that if I removed one drug, then I’d be OK, but it clearly wasn’t the case.  Things got a lot worse – I had no choice really but to end up doing rehab.

That was probably the best thing that happened to me at the time. I completed rehab and stayed clean for a few years. I did all the things that I’d never been able to do before such as getting a job, renting a house and starting university.

I did a couple of years of a paramedic degree and decided that while I was at university, that I could, “drink responsibly”.

I was young and I still didn’t fully understand the nature of addiction. At the time, I’d never had any issues with drinking alcohol.

Drinking alcohol led me back to using drugs very quickly.  My drinking wasn’t out of control, I’d drink every couple of weekends with my work mates if they were going out – I was working at a bar to support my university studies.

However, the feelings of “obsession” around drugs had entered my head, if that makes sense.

It only took a few months for me to decide that alcohol wasn’t what I preferred, it was drugs. I had actually fooled myself into thinking that if I could drink responsibly, then maybe I could do drugs responsibly.

It was such a delusion of course. Once I separated myself from the fellowship and my friends, I didn’t have anyone around me to combat my delusional thinking.

That delusional thinking got me back into drugs and the lifestyle that goes with it. The user lifestyle, you’ve probably heard it all before – doesn’t need explaining. 

Did I steal to support my habit? Absolutely. It was much worse for me than the first time around. The crime got worse anyway. When I was younger it was more petty stuff that got me into trouble like possession. This time I continued on to violent crime within the community and just really did things that I would never consider now that I’m clean.

These issues still affect me today. I had nearly finished my paramedic science degree and as a result of the crime, could not go back to finish that study.

I guess that it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m OK with that.  I’m studying business and marketing within the creative industries now.

As a result of that relapse I ended up serving twelve months of a four year prison sentence. That relapse was my longest, about four years. Being in prison didn’t stop my drug use, but it certainly was a reality check for me.

I also had to do three months of community service. Life began to get better for me again. I came back into the fellowship. I was still in the maintenance program, accepted and welcomed and spent the next few years working my way off a methadone program. I got clean and stayed that way for a few years.

Then I relapsed last year.

Looking back, I believe that I had quite a full life, which meant that I really wasn’t focusing on recovery. I had two jobs, I was studying – I have now come to a place these days where I’ve realised that I just have to take my time.

I didn’t set out to use drugs that fateful day, they were put directly in my path and I had no defences to counter them with.

I was tired, I was stressed, I had exams coming up – it was a perfect storm. Someone near to me had used and normally that wouldn’t be a trigger for me. I just wasn’t paying attention to my recovery – at the time I was getting to one meeting a week, if that. 

I wasn’t doing step work, or service – all the things that are keeping me clean today.

I can now see where I made mistakes and have come to the conclusion that if I have to slowly plod along at life and take longer to finish my uni degree because I’m putting recovery front and centre, then that’s OK. I’d rather get there and achieve something than lose it to drugs.

I know it sounds crazy but In that moment of relapse I had the thought of “you know what? Stuff it. I’ll come back (to a meeting) tomorrow. I’ll be fine.”

And I did exactly that – I went to a meeting the next day, thinking that, “these people are a complete bunch of idiots here”. 

My head had already started with the distorted thinking – I had unleashed the beast.

It wasn’t until I bumped into my friend, Jay, who’s been in recovery and has notched up ten years clean that things changed.

We were holidaying in Noosa for Christmas with my family and I was still trying to go to a meeting.  I bumped into him there. Knowing that he would understand, I levelled with him, telling him that I wasn’t well and that I was struggling.

I asked him if there was any chance that he could help and he replied, “yes” and that’s how I ended up coming to the Hader Clinic. Jay is one of the Clinic’s highly valued staff. I am very grateful to him.

I detoxed from the heroin the week before I was admitted into rehab. I was still suffering withdrawal sickness, though I had managed to get through the worst of it.  I had insomnia, and I was sweaty and shaky. I could still move around quite easily though.

My experience of rehab was great. The fact that it was ninety days made the biggest difference – it was a good time frame, given that I’d been exposed to the fellowship before. It was comfortable. There was an excellent therapeutic community within the rehab and surrounds.

The staff were caring and accommodating. It’s a wide open space and the food, the food that was served was fantastic as was the group work. I found the limited contact from the outside world a little challenging – fifteen minutes never seemed like enough. However, it did give me time to focus on myself and learn to “sit” with what I needed.

This time around in rehab, I spent more time helping those who were new to the recovery process which made the time pass quickly. I was also able to work through the 12 Steps with a local member from the community, Janet.

I found that really cool that if I was serious about working through the twelve steps that I could ask someone local for help – and the staff at Hader were very encouraging of that.

Because I got to do that in the time that I was at the rehab, I felt like I was better equipped to start practising what we do on the outside, and that is to help other people with the same issues. I found my day a lot easier if I was OK and I could reach out and help someone else. I could reach out and ask how their day was going and what I could do for them.

What also hit home for me was that it’s a daily program. The staff have all walked this road and keep working at their own recoveries. I’ve never got past two years clean because I’ve let things fall away.  The most profound understanding has been that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in recovery, you still have to work at it.  I’ve got more insight into the connection you have with the fellowship and the importance of a daily routine in recovery.

As well as my recovery, I’m slowly working my way towards finishing my uni degree and live with my partner, who is also a recovering addict and our puppy.  This recovery has taken longer than previous times at rehab where I seem to have landed on my feet more. I still have previous belongings in my life like my house and my car, but emotionally it’s taken me longer to adjust.

My partner works and I’ve only just gone back to uni. You can sometimes feel like you don’t have any other purpose but NA. It can get a bit dull – I just felt overwhelmed with life when I left the rehab.

My dog’s been really therapeutic for me as he gets me out in the mornings and the afternoons for a walk which helps me clear my mind.

My partner and I needed to be separated – it just doesn’t work trying to get clean together – he did his on the outside with the fellowship. We’re very open about our recovery journeys but we don’t directly support each other – we both have separate sponsors and support networks and that works well for us.

If I had any advice for someone contemplating recovery, it would be to go for it.

If you want a change in your life, seek help – people do care and others can help you.

Don’t Give up on Yourself, it’s Never Too Late to Recover

Helen fell into the grip of active addiction as a child and continued her struggle for the next thirty years. Realising that she didn’t want her addiction to kill her was the first step towards a new life.

Helen is the Hader Clinic Queensland’s art therapist who shares her talents and her personal addiction experience helping others in their recovery from addiction. 

This is her rollercoaster journey.

Hi, I’m Helen, and I suffer from the disease of addiction. I’ve been clean since September 22, 2012.

Through sharing my story, I hope that my experience can give others who are suffering from the pain of addiction, strength and hope that they can make a change for the better.

As a child, I have few memories of actually feeling happy. I must have had moments of joy, but my dominant memory is of feeling isolated. 

My mum tragically died when I was just three years old, which left my two brothers and me to be raised by her ex-husband, who was not my dad.

I grew up grieving and confused, and feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt like I had no connections. I had no idea why I felt so alone. 

As I grew up, my Nana tried to reach me, however either she didn’t know how to help me or by then I didn’t want to be helped.

I discovered alcohol at eleven years old and became instantly obsessed with it.

It had the effect of sending me from being withdrawn and sullen into rebellious and angry behaviours, which, at the time, I openly enjoyed.

By the time I was thirteen, my life was spiralling rapidly out of control.

My step parents and grandparents struggled to discipline me. I was already too far gone. I was wagging school, lying, fighting and drinking with every waking breath I could. 

I barely passed high school, but I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was drink and party. I was able to get away with this for several years. 

Then, I fell pregnant at seventeen.

Naturally, I was completely unprepared for motherhood. 

My addiction was so cunning that the birth of my beautiful son was not enough to curb my drinking.

By this stage, I was also using illicit drugs.

When my son was three, I surrendered him to his father, admitting that I was utterly incompetent to parent him.

To this day, my heart aches with regret.

However, at this time I just wanted to get back to serious party mode. The more I used, the more terrible my life choices became. The men I chose were all emotionally damaged, just like I was.

I couldn’t handle money, I couldn’t keep a job, my life was was completely without purpose and I was just twenty one.

For the next twenty three years my whole life revolved around alcohol and drugs. 

Every relationship I started involved alcohol and drugs. It was a crazy, crazy ride.

Domestic violence, arrests, driving under the influence, blackouts, “geographicals” (location changes) – you name it, I did it all.

Drugs and alcohol turned me into a person that was dishonest, unreliable, volatile and cunning.

I manipulated and stole my way through life thinking that it was my right. 

I moved from one relationship to the next, from one town to the next leaving a trail of destruction and disappointment behind me.

My talent as an artist was the only valuable contribution I made to society, however, I would use that talent to get way with unacceptable behaviour. 

I believed my art was the only thing about me worth anything, eventually I lost that as well.

I believe that, at times people tried to love me, maybe they even did love me, but I only loved whatever I could take to could get me out of it. I loved the feeling of being high and smashed.

I was utterly broken. I was completely lost. I was slowly killing myself and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

My brother loved me anyway, even as he watched me dying, inside and out. I’m not sure how he did that, and why he didn’t walk away. 

Finally, I reached a point where I wanted to change my life.

I began to slowly realise that I didn’t want to die. I also knew that I couldn’t keep living the way that I was.

You see, I made so many attempts to stop and failed every… single… time. 

Failed miserably, failed magnificently.

It seemed that psychiatrists, doctors, police, judges, family and my parents couldn’t help me.

I wouldn’t listen, I couldn’t hear them through the cravings. I believed I needed the drugs to deal with how I felt. 

Being straight was unbearable but active addiction was a living hell.

Picture this: I had nothing left, no friends, no relationship, no family, just that one unshakeable brother who never gave up on me.

I was 41kg, skin and bone, I smelt bad and was extremely ill. My kidneys ached, I drank and drove every day and I rarely ate. 

I was beginning to understand that I was living on borrowed time. I had to change but I didn’t know how.

I had tried getting help before so I didn’t see how AA or NA would be any different. Out of desperation I attended anyway. 

I remember being two days sober at my first AA meeting only because I was too ill to drink.

I don’t remember anything that was said at that meeting but I remember leaving with the tiniest whisper of hope. I went to another meeting the next day, and another the day after that. 

Suddenly I found myself 5 days sober for the first time I could remember in over 25 years.

Then I stretched it out to ten, then thirty days. I was amazed. 

I was frail, fragile, emotionally immature and I felt like an alien on a new planet. I had escaped death, now I needed to learn how to live again.

I did exactly what my sponsor said, I worked my way through the steps and I went to meetings. I worked at helping others and I made amends where I could. 

I spent every day in AA so that I could live.

I learnt who I was, I learnt to forgive and I learnt to really love.

Through my association with the fellowship, I was becoming a person that I could actually like.

Slowly I began to regain my self esteem and respect. It was the beginning of my new life.

Finally, I found connection.

I connected with people in the fellowship who knew what I had been through, I connected with my sponsor who gave me unconditional love, and I connected with a power greater than myself.

Today, I am almost seven years free from alcohol and drugs.

Tears of gratitude fall down my face as I write this – yes, tears of gratitude and joy.

My brother is proud of me.

My son is back in my life and thinks that I’m a good person, this is a miracle! 

I have healthy relationships today with good people. 

I’m fit and strong and a part of my amazing community. I care for myself, and I care for others. 

I can face adversity without the need for alcohol and drugs.

I have art back in my life and today I have the privilege and joy of using it to help others like me. 

Without the program of AA and the community within both the AA and NA programs I have absolutely no doubt I would not be here at all.

My life in recovery is a gift and so is yours.

Don’t give up on yourself, it’s never too late to recover.

Cocaine Destroyed my World but Rehab Brought it Back

Hi, I’m Caroline. I’m a former advertising executive and I struggled with a cocaine addiction before it blew my world apart. This is my story about how I came back from the brink.

My addiction happened so slowly I didn’t even realise it was an addiction until the end, when it was too late.

I was working in the advertising space in Sydney when I first starting using cocaine, and tried to get away from it by moving to Melbourne.

I was earning a lot of money pretty early on in my career, and I had no idea how to manage it. Not that I’m blaming what happened on that, but rather, I’m trying to paint a picture. I was young and had a lot of money.

I started using cocaine and then hoped my move to Melbourne would help me stop (it didn’t) and my drug use got really bad. My reputation started to deteriorate as a consequence.

I tell people that I resigned from my job to go to the Hader Clinic Queensland, but the reality is I lost my job. I ended up having to do some things that weren’t right to pay my debts to drug dealers. I lost my house, my car and my job. And I lost myself.

It all blew up when I started prioritising paying for drugs over paying rent and other debts so in the end, I had lost my job, I was two month’s behind in my rent. I just had to flee. I had dug a hole so deep that the only way out of it was telling the truth really.

I remember the day that I was confronted at work by management about what was going on. I was driving to work thinking that it was all going to come to an end soon and that the only way out of it was just to be honest about my struggles. I just wanted it to be over.

I was lucky enough to be able to secure a bed at the Hader Clinic Queensland otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to attend.

So, that’s how I ended up there. Everything with work kind of came crashing down. That was the biggest part of my identity and my life. I moved out of my place in Melbourne and my partner and I simply walked out and left everything there. We flew to Queensland, thanks to my mum’s help and the help of family getting our stuff packed up and out of the apartment in Melbourne.

They talk about some people being born with a predisposition towards addiction. I don’t know if I was that. I went through a lot of trauma as a kid, but I don’t remember that much. My psychologist at the Hader Clinic Queensland reckons that I dissociated from a lot of those experiences, hence the hazy memories.

Anyway, I remember always living well beyond my means and having obsessive behaviours, plus all the things that go with it. Every time I used drugs early on, say as a teenager, I would always be the one who would secretly have five times more drugs than anyone else but not tell anyone.

That kinds of tells me that upon reflection, that I was always going to end up here. It just didn’t start that much earlier because my two previous partners were quite introverted and anti-social. I catered to their needs and never saw my friends or went out.

When I got out of my previous relationship, I started partying pretty hard. When I met my current partner, she was outgoing and displayed many of the same traits that I did.

I got introduced to cocaine when I was living in Sydney through some friends and I just remember thinking that it just had me from the beginning. I just never wanted to stop, I was just that person that never wanted it to end.

I’ve always been a big self sacrificer and I’ve always found it difficult to express what I’m  feeling, what I need and what I want. I think maybe using gave me some sense of self control.

Somewhere down the track, you cross that line without even realising it, and suddenly it’s not fun anymore. It becomes a thing where you’re on that hamster wheel and you can’t get off. But you don’t that’s happening until it’s too late.

I’d make half-hearted attempts to break the cycle. I’d binge use and then swear never to do it again. I was hating it and didn’t want my life to be like that and you’d pick it up again once you started to feel OK.

I’d only buy a small amount thinking, “I’ll just do one night only, just one” and that would be it. But that was never the case. Once I had that first hit, I was gone for days.

Initially, I felt like the drug gave me superpowers and I could go to work. However not sleeping for two to three days at a time meant that it became unproductive. I would tell myself that I needed it to get stuff done, to clean the house or whatever but nothing gets done.

When I moved to Melbourne, it didn’t take long to realise that I had more drug dealer contacts than I had friends.

I hadn’t spoken to my mum for a couple of years, I slowly drifted away from my whole family over the years. But when things all came crashing down, I had to tell everyone – my mum, dad, and my siblings.

I went into rehab with ten days’ clean under my belt after leaving Melbourne. Cocaine is such an expensive drug, so I probably couldn’t have used it even if I had wanted to. I was just at the point where I was happy to stop.

Once at the rehab, I was feeling so beaten. At that point I was so willing to recover. I took it all in from the get go. There were people struggling with being there, the program and its rules. I don’t think some people could understand why the rehab was set up a certain way.

That wasn’t my experience though. I could see that everything in rehab was designed to teach you something. I really loved everything about it. I had a room to myself, air conditioning, a bed, a safe space. I felt really good there and I actually didn’t want to leave.

What helped me the most in the rehab was the education classes and psychology. I also loved the discipline and the routine and I really tried to use the time to set some behaviours for myself that I could carry to the outside because I’ve always been the sort of person who’s been inconsistent, always sleeping in and not so great with self care.

While I was in rehab, I put a lot of energy into getting up at 6am and exercising and getting that routine going.

I remember the first psycho education class. It was about the Karpmann drama triangle and I just cried. I spent a lot of the first few weeks in tears because I was having all these lightbulb moments. The classes taught me a lot about relationships and boundaries, anxiety, mental health and addiction. I found all of that really great.

I think the best thing the rehab is that it’s part of the 12 Step fellowship program, because it  introduces you to a new way of living. That’s the thing that will help keep you clean on the outside even though rehab gives you the opportunity to reset and refocus.

Throughout the whole process, the relationships I have with my family have improved as well.

The other thing in the program that worked really well for me were the one on one counselling sessions I had. I found them to be really beneficial and it uncovered a lot.

I think that’s important because the program really strips you bare and the counselling  helped fast track the progress that I made.

I finished the 90-day program at the Hader Clinic Queensland about 8 weeks ago now. And already my life is better. I’ve decided to stay in Queensland because of the connections I’ve made here. I’ve been approved for a rental property and am back in full time work in marketing.

I still just try to live in each day, but I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for the support and help that they’ve given me in reclaiming my life back.

Women and Addiction

There are many reasons why women develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol, so we provide specialised addiction treatment for women and addiction.

At the Hader Clinic, we recognise that women are affected differently by alcohol and drugs and need specialised women’s addiction treatment

Our women’s drug rehabilitation treatment focuses on the particular needs of women to achieve the best possible individual results. Our personalised treatment services help women address the underlying triggers for their dependence on drugs or alcohol. Hader Clinic counsellors are experts in helping women tackle the shame of addiction to live fuller lives.

Men and addiction vs women and addiction

There are physical differences between men and women that can cause women to become addicted faster while using less. A major factor for women is a process known as telescoping. When a woman starts using drugs, she will develop dependence and become unwell faster. Our specialist addiction treatment for women acknowledges that a woman may have more severe physical and psychological health concerns than a man who has used more for longer.


The Hader Clinic recognises that women are more vulnerable to trauma. They may have started using drugs to cope with physical, sexual or psychological abuse and the shame associated with being a victim of abuse. Through our addiction treatment for women, we offer a safe environment for women and provide LGBTIQ friendly services.

Often addiction begins in the teenage years as girls feel pressure to conform to social norms and try to exert control over their changing bodies. Depression, anxiety and body control behaviour such as self-harm or bulimia can lead to girls experimenting with drugs or alcohol as a coping tool.

Mental health

Because women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, they are also more likely to receive prescriptions from doctors to treat these conditions. When medication is prescribed without addressing underlying issues such as abuse or a poor home environment, stress or other mental health concerns, women and girls may become dependent on drugs. Hormonal changes throughout a woman’s life can also affect the way her body processes alcohol and drugs.

Social expectations

Social expectations of women and perceptions of the role of women can be crippling for women with addiction. Women are often the primary carers of children or parents and this pressure can contribute to the feelings of guilt, shame and social isolation. Home responsibilities, lack of financial resources, or fear of social or legal consequences can be barriers to women seeking treatment.

Women’s Rehab Programs

The shame and stigma of alcohol or drug dependence can trap women in a cycle of addiction and negative thoughts. The Hader Clinic’s women’s rehabilitation programs provide women with the tools they need to manage addiction and move into recovery without fear of shame or stigma.

We recognise that women are vulnerable to trauma and addiction in different ways to men and offer specific women’s drug rehabilitation and women’s alcohol rehabilitation programs. Our compassionate, high quality addiction treatment for women will help you or your loved one with their recovery.

More information

If you would like to know more about women’s addiction treatment, please read:

Women’s Addiction Treatment
Ice Addiction in Women
Addiction Treatment for Women
Addiction – The Mother’s Guilt
Addiction – The Mother’s Shame
Misconceptions About Women With Addiction

Presence not Presents – Christmas as a Recovering Addict and a Mum

As a mother of 3 children I always found Christmas to be one of my favourite times of the year.

My house was always filled with Christmas decorations and had the facade of joy and laughter.

And I was always a proud single mum – my house on Christmas morning was always filled with everything material my kids had ever wanted.

But looking back on my last Christmas in active addiction I hold my head in shame.

Not only did I spend Christmas Eve high on drugs while preparing the kids toys for Christmas, but when Christmas morning came, I hadn’t been to bed or slept at all.

I looked at the clock at 5am and got changed into my PJ’s thinking I could outsmart the kids, that they would believe I had been to sleep.

Watching my children’s faces light up when they saw a room full of presents, in my mind, justified my using.

In my sick head I thought my kids had all the things they wanted. They did not know the gifts were bought from ill-gotten gains.

After spending the morning at home with just the kids it was time to head to my parents’ house for Christmas lunch.

Over the past 2 years I hadn’t really had much contact with my family. This made turning on Christmas day very nerve racking for me.

So I thought the only way I could deal with it was to have a 4ml plunge of GHB before leaving home and before starting the 45-minute drive to my parents’ home.

All dressed up for Christmas day, I loaded the kids into the car along with all the presents for the family.

This is when my addiction really showed its true form for the first time in 23 years of active addiction.

Looking back, I felt so ashamed.

Driving along a country road in Melbourne with my 3 children in the car I started ‘blowing out’, (which I have learnt in recovery is the closest thing to death, without actually dying), only to be awoken by my 11 year old daughter screaming “Mum, mum, you just fell asleep”, veering onto the dirt side of the road.

I remember waking and bringing the car back to the road.

This happened once more on the way to the family home, I remember putting my window down and saying to myself over and over again in my head…STAY AWAKE, STAY AWAKE…

Arriving at my family’s house, the first thing I did was go to the toilet and smoke ice as I knew this would over-ride what I had taken at home.

Not only was I shaking by the near miss in the car on the way over, but I realised if my daughter hadn’t woken me up, I could have killed my children on Christmas day.

Totally ashamed I believed the only thing that would get me through the day with the family was to take more drugs.

Looking back, now 18 months clean, I can see how truly sick I was, how clouded my judgement was, even though I thought the drugs made me more aware.

Worst of all, I now clearly knew my stupid actions had put mine and my children’s lives in danger.

I love my children dearly and they always had the best of everything, they had the best material things, but not the best mum I could be.

I wasn’t there for them the way a mother should be there for her children.

18 months on I am a proud mother in recovery.

I have a story I’m not very proud of. A story full of guilt and shame.

Past things that I am still working very hard to let go of, so they do not shape mine or my children’s future.

As Christmas comes around again I still have the memories of the horrors of that Christmas 2 years ago. Something or someone was definitely watching over us that day.

This Christmas is going to be totally different to any other Christmas my family is used to.

There will be very few presents under the tree, but my children will have me present for the day. They will have my presence, unconditionally.

Today, thanks to the addiction recovery program I completed, my children aren’t put in harms way anymore.

They have a mother who can attend to their needs appropriately. They have a mother who is 100% present and there for them in the moment. They have a mother who isn’t being consumed by how she is going to get the next hit.

And we will all have a family Christmas full of love, laughter and blessings.

Read more

How To Support An Addict In Recovery Over Christmas
An addict’s Christmas survival guide – Tis the season to stay sober
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