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Chris’ Addiction Recovery Story

‘A couple months ago I was on the verge of losing everything. I was trying to decide whether to keep going or kill myself.’

Chris started drinking and smoking cannabis when he was 11 years old. His young parents were users and they weren’t always around. At 12, he moved in with his grandmother and an uncle who was recently out of jail.

‘I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, so I smoked weed all day and drank whenever I could,’ Chris says.

Chris left school in year nine. He couldn’t sit still and focus. He was good at sports, but he had no time for the classroom. He was using a range of drugs. When he was 15 he was addicted to oxycontin and became unwell. He gave it up, but continued with other drugs.

‘I’ve tried everything but heroin and ice. They say morphine and heroin are pretty much the same though. I’ve tried everything else,’ he says.

‘I paid for a lot of it with crime. A lot of theft and stealing and working. Having a family that would sell and deal, I was always around that criminal scene. It was never really hard to get my hands on stuff.’

Chris saw a lot of bad times when he was drinking. He burnt his arm starting a bonfire with petrol and came off a motorbike at high speed without safety gear. The worst thing he ever did, he says, is steal from his family.

‘That’s what’s really affected me at an older age. I stole my brother’s and sister’s pocket money. I stole every one of my dad’s DVDs,’ he says. ‘I’d never had a friendship because I would’ve stepped over you to get what I wanted.’

Nine years ago, Chris met his partner. They had a son. Chris stopped taking drugs but couldn’t give up drinking. He tried seeing a psychologist, going to counselling, moderating and cutting back but it didn’t work.

‘I’d end up doing it again,’ Chris says. ‘I really didn’t want to, but it was the only way for me to get out of my own head, to get away from the day to day life stuff that I couldn’t handle.’

Now 27, Chris is a qualified horticulturalist. He’s been working for about eight years and from the outside things have probably seemed ok. But in the past year, everything started falling apart.

Although he tried to be a good dad, Chris’s relationship with his son and partner suffered. He would be moody and unstable. His relationship with his partner was only around caring for their son, they no longer had an intimate connection. Chris realised his son wasn’t always comfortable with him. He knew he had to deal with the problem this time.

‘The Hader Clinic said they could get me a bed straight away. That was crucial to me, because I had to go now. I didn’t have a minute to wait, let alone a month,’ he says.

During rehab, Chris was able to focus on the thoughts and feelings he had previously avoided. His partner did a lot of research while he was away to understand what Chris was experiencing. Chris was able to admit he is powerless over his addiction and start to move forward.

‘Being with yourself 24 hours a day and working the program, you’ve really got to want to be better. That’s a key thing,’ he says. ‘That’s what I needed, to be secluded away from everything and work on what’s going on inside me.’

Since leaving rehab, Chris has been attending 12 step meetings every night. Participating in the fellowship and doing the steps is keeping him sober. His son recently turned four and their relationship has improved.

‘I was always on edge. Now I have a lot of tolerance and patience, thanks to the program. I think he feels a lot safer that I’m more stable emotionally, and life is a million times better because me and my partner aren’t fighting and arguing and I’m not drinking and walking out,’ Chris says. ‘

‘I’m here. I’m there for him. He definitely notices the difference. To what extent, I don’t know. I don’t think he’ll remember because he’s so young, but for now it makes a difference.’

Chris and his partner are working on their relationship too. Now that he’s sober, they can see each other in a different way. Chris is amazed with how much better his life has become in only a few months.

‘I’m very surprised my partner stuck it out,’ Chris says. ‘I think I’ve broken her pretty bad, but I’m here to try and make it better. We’re both making conscious effort to work on our relationship.’

Chris is now studying to become an addiction counsellor through the Hader Institute. When he’s not studying, he’s taking care of his son.

‘Until I went to rehab and looked at myself and was told that I’m an alcoholic and an addict, I didn’t know what was going on. I just thought I was a bad person,’

Chris says. ‘It’s good to not be hurting anyone any more.’

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