David’s Story of Alcohol Addiction Recovery
“I was a daily drinker for 29 years, it took everything from me. I am finally free from the daily horror of alcohol addiction”.
This is his story.
I grew up on a cattle property. We lived in rural Queensland. I worked hard from a young age. My Dad put my brother and me to work when I was only 7. We lived so remotely that I was sent to boarding school in Toowoomba in 1978 to complete high school. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. A lot of the boys there were very well off. I was a little rough around the edges. I would feel so embarrassed being dropped off on the back of a milk truck.
The first time I drank alcohol was around the age of 12. I was at a fancy dress party with my family. I had one beer and went to sleep in the back of my parents’ ute. I didn’t really drink much after that until I left high school.
I couldn’t wait to get out of boarding school, I hated every minute of it. I went out West to work on cattle stations. My first job was as a jackaroo for a big pastoral company. I was only there for a year before I was promoted to head stockman. I was always a high achiever. I oversaw the whole mustering camp at the age of 18. We didn’t drink out at the campsite. We stayed there 6 weeks at a time. When we came back to the station we would party hard and drink heavily to let off steam. We were very isolated in the middle of nowhere. There was not much else to do.
This was my lifestyle until the mid 90’s. I would work hard and drink hard. I thought it was a very normal life. Everyone else around me was doing the same. It was a very hostile environment. There were often big accidents, horses falling on people or being mauled by big bulls. It took its toll on me.
I got married in 1988. I was the head stockman and she was the bookkeeper. We had two beautiful girls together. I didn’t think my drinking was a problem at this stage but it did upset my wife at times, she didn’t like the way I drank until I was heavily intoxicated every time. I thought this was the way all men behaved. The only events we attended were camp drafts or rodeos which were huge drinking events. The closest town was Mt Isa and we only went there 3 times a year. Any spare time I had revolved around drinking.
My drinking progressively got worse, and I had a few car accidents where I was badly hurt due to drink driving. My wife’s parents fell ill, and we decided to move to Charters Towers to be close to them. I felt lost, all I knew was bush living, I felt out of place, just like when I was at boarding school. All of the bush skills I had were no good to me in town.
I started driving road trains to make a living. There wasn’t as much social drinking. I started drinking on my own. I would drink when I was stressed, which was all the time, it was my only coping mechanism. We lived in Charters Towers for 19 years.
During the 19 years there I did an adult apprenticeship as a diesel fitter. I decided to sell my saddles and anything of value from my mustering days. I needed to get the kids through school and my $15 per hour apprenticeship wage was not going to make the cut. It was very painful to let go of the past. I felt like I was losing my identity. I felt it was my life’s achievement. I had worked from a Jackaroo to a head stockman, to a station overseer all the way to cattle station manager. It was what I was good at.
I wasn’t coping at all during this period, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety and was even hospitalised a few times. I didn’t talk about how I felt to anyone, I didn’t think that a man should feel the way I did. My relationship with my wife was deteriorating. I lost my driver’s license and became unemployed and any jobs I got were short-lived.
I had a serious truck accident as a result of my drinking and I was on a downward spiral. We decided to make a change so we moved to Toowoomba. I got a job as a wardsman in a hospital. Moving didn’t change anything for me. My mental health was in bad shape, and I knew I couldn’t continue this way. I googled rehabs and Hader Clinic Queensland came up. I didn’t contact them straight away, but I kept it in the back of my mind.
In early 2021 my wife left me. I don’t blame her. I was unreliable, was unable to be present and I would drink to blackout most nights, it was really hard on my family. I moved into a small unit alone. The loneliness and despair I felt in that unit are indescribable.
I finally made the decision to seek help so I contacted Hader Clinic Queensland. They gave me advice on how to access my superannuation and I was in detox within 2 weeks. The process was really quick. I had no expectations or comprehension of what rehab was, I thought it might be something like a psych ward I had been in, but, I was at the end of the road. I was open and willing to do anything to get sober.
In detox, we started to do lessons and I learned that I had been suffering from a serious illness. I was very foggy and a lot of it went over my head at first. Until I met one of the support workers, Mark. I really felt a great connection with him, he was like me, a bit of a diamond in the rough. I could really relate to him and things started to sink in a little more.
I was taught about spiritual principles. Particularly about the HOW of the program, honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. With the support workers’ help and guidance, I started to practice a daily program, which still helps me today. I needed to accept that I was unwell and I needed to surrender the idea that I could do this on my own. I had spent so many years in denial. The staff and the other recovering addicts gave me hope that there was a way out for me. I was so relieved to know that people like me can recover.
I was introduced to the 12-step programs and literature, and it was an amazing thing to learn that there was so much support when I left rehab.
For anyone who is out there suffering, the best advice I can offer is to get honest with yourself and seek help. I could not have done this without Hader Clinic Queensland. My drinking always got worse, never better. I had to lose everything before I sought help.
Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland my life is an absolute blessing today. I have freedom and I am calm and peaceful. My whole life used to be drama and conflict. It was the only life I knew. I have learned a new way to live. I have connections with other recovering addicts, and I am part of a community. I truly am not alone anymore.
Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.
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