Eddy’s Addiction Recovery Story
Sometime during a drug induced haze, Eddy sent a text message to his mother asking for help. It was to be the start of his recovery from a life of addiction that had spiralled out of control.
I had a pretty normal upbringing in a rural town in Queensland. I had a big friendship group in high school and we’d get pretty rowdy on weekends with house parties. You could say that I really loved a party and a good time.
When I turned 18 and finished school, all of my friends moved to Brisbane to head to university. At this stage, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I hadn’t really studied much and the thought of applying to university hadn’t crossed my mind.
I decided that I would move down to Brisbane so I could continue to hang out with my friends. I worked full time and maintained my school friendships. However, they were all living a university lifestyle – studying in the day and partying at night. You could say I adopted the same approach to life whilst trying to hold down full time jobs.
I lived in Brisbane for nine years and you could say that I spent most of it working during the week, then going out and partying from Thursday through to Sunday. I’d go to uni parties etc.
This was all good and well until my friends started graduating and moving away to pursue their careers.
Looking back, they had their purpose and careers sorted out from the get go, where I was just drifting, working in roles I had no real interest in. It had been to fund my partying ways.
While they moved ahead in leaps and bounds, I remained stagnant.
Once all of my friends had moved away, I stayed in Brisbane, kept partying and hanging out with new people. I was always chasing that group that would want to keep partying as often as I did.
At this time, I was using alcohol socially and drugs recreationally. At this stage they weren’t affecting my life negatively. I could still hold down jobs and was never in trouble with the law.
When I was 26, my girlfriend at the time fell pregnant with our first child. We decided to pack up and move to Hervey Bay (where both of our families are from).
It was around this time we got married, and then my grandfather died. A few months later, my son was born. It was a big year. Death, marriage, childbirth, mortgage – I was thrown into “adulting” big time.
This year represented a turning point – it was where the “wheels” started falling off.
It was a slow, gradual, decline. It went from wanting to go out to drink, to drinking at home and wanting to use drugs.
I was doing this in secret around the house. At that point I was using speed, MDMA, ecstasy, cocaine – whatever I could get at the time.
I was working, trying to be a supportive father and husband but I didn’t want to let go of that party lifestyle. I didn’t want to let go of my party boy image, that I was quite proud of at the time.
I was reliable – if anyone wanted to do something, I’d be in. I’d make excuses at home as to why I wanted to go out. A lot of the time, the excuses were partly true, and often they weren’t.
My ex-wife and I began to grow apart. She let me go, because if I didn’t, I’d be sulking around the house and acting like a child.
When my son was three, my ex-wife fell pregnant with our daughter. It wasn’t planned and a big surprise for us both. I was going out and not coming home for several days.
Three months after my daughter was born, my wife and I separated.
Basically, I went off the rails. I couldn’t be relied upon to do anything – I couldn’t be trusted not to have a drink or I’d behave erratically, trying to hide whatever was in my system at the time.
I left the house to my wife and kids and I couch surfed for awhile. I’d be giving my mates drugs in return for allowing me to stay.
What little responsibility I’d had with my kids vaporised at this point.
When I didn’t have any responsibility, the using really went up a notch. I pushed away my support network, my close friends and parents and started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
These people always had drugs and wanted to party.
With these people came unwanted attention from the law. I was known to police because I was hanging out with this crowd. However, at the time, I didn’t care. I accepted that it was the lifestyle I was going to live and that was it.
I thought I hid this lifestyle really well from my family and friends. My ex knew I was bad, but didn’t understand how bad.
I would bring home a carton of beer on a Friday, but unbeknownst to her, I would have downed eight or so schooners on the way home.
Once I started not coming home at night, things got worse. I’d wake up covered in sand, because I’d passed out at the beach.
My wife and I had conversations about it and I did try and white knuckle it, slow things down. It would never last, it was something I couldn’t maintain.
Ultimately, I thought that the people that I was hanging around with genuinely cared about me. I was the dude, the party guy. They needed me in their lives. I’m now embarrassed that I thought this!
Then I met Briana. Our relationship was strong and intense – within weeks we were living together. She worked at one of the local pubs. She knew that I was a bit of a party person.
It eventuated that she was my polar opposite – you could say that she was a bit of a homebody, who went out occasionally but was quite happy to stay at home. She was also much younger than me – she was only 21.
Her youth may have meant that she didn’t know how to approach the subject of drugs and drinking. It wasn’t a problem at the beginning of our relationship. However, as it progressed and I upped the ante on my addictive behaviours, which would start on a Tuesday and end up in a drug fuelled binges on weekends, things got rocky.
Drugs were always in the house and I never lied to Briana about it. However, we never spoke about it.
I’ve always suffered from mental health issues – depression and anxiety. In the year Briana and I were together, these issues really started surfacing. I knew that the drugs and alcohol were making things worse as I was a mental health worker for three years – and I had worked with people who suffered from substance abuse issues.
I knew this in my head and I’m good at helping other people with their demons.. but when it comes to my own….
I stopped taking my anti depressants and tried to self-medicate during the last year to try and cope with life.
How did I get to the Hader Clinic Queensland?
A month before I went to the Hader Clinic Queensland, Briana and I had a big fight, with her saying that she couldn’t watch me destroy myself anymore. I left, but continued to call her threatening suicide.
I ended up being admitted to the psych ward of the local hospital. It was becoming clear that I wasn’t coping. I was in there for six days.
After my discharge I was told to come back to the community alcohol and drug unit and to “go from there”.
I made a promise to Briana that I would take “a month off everything”.
On the final day of that month I was driving home and thought, “I’m just going to get ONE tallie.”
I thought, “I’ve done what she asked, so I’m going to treat myself”
That was on Thursday. I can’t remember any of the events that transpired until the following Sunday morning.
I was psychotic and not making any sense. I was unmanageable.
I woke up in a room with my parents with no recollection of what I’d done or how I got there.
Somewhere in that drug induced haze, I had sent a text message to my mother saying that I needed help and wanted to go to rehab. I cannot remember sending it.
Three days later I was at the rehab, thanks to my parents and a friend who supervised me for those few days so that I wouldn’t do a runner. I didn’t have any chance to make any excuses about going. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.
I can’t remember a lot at the beginning. I cried a lot. It was the only way I go to sleep. Usually I’m a complete extrovert but the last thing I wanted to do was interact with anyone.
“Fuck you all,” I thought.
I hated that I was there, I hated that I didn’t have my phone. I wanted to contact Briana to sort things out. When I discovered that I couldn’t, I threw a few tantrums.
Ninety days was also a big issue. It seemed like an eternity.
I was pretty resistant initially. For the first few days, I wasn’t mentally there. I wanted to drink, I wanted to use and most of all, I wanted to leave.
I decided to find fault with everything – if the food wasn’t shit, the accommodation and the beds were. Or the other clients were shit. Even the trees and the garden were shit.
After the first week, I realised that I was actually free to leave. The fact that nobody was stopping me from trying to leave made me want to stay.
“I’m here now,” I thought. I was really beginning to look at my life and what my addiction had done.
I started to come around to the fact that I was the one who was the problem, not my environment.
I kept reminding myself that I needed to be in rehab and given that I’d sent that text message to my mother wanting help, was also wanting recovery.
After thirty days, I completely embraced the program. I knew what I wanted to achieve and realised that I really needed to do the full ninety day program.
At thirty days, I hadn’t really done any real work. I had been dealing with getting sober and clean. It was time to leap into that unknown. I was starting to feel more comfortable with the rehab, the staff and the other clients.
I’m sure everyone says that Mark is one of the stand out staff members. Mark’s experiences were so relatable and I loved his “no bullshit” approach. It resonated. You also knew that if you wanted to ask him for any advice, he’d give it to you straight. That was refreshing.
I’ve been in a few psych wards now and I think I’ve got a pretty good “bullshit radar”. It was all very much straight talk during rehab. Mark wouldn’t tell you what he thought you’d like to hear – he’d tell you whether you wanted to hear it or not!
I also liked working with Wade for similar reasons. However, I really appreciated some of Wade’s one on one support during a few difficult times. He made me feel calm and helped me to grasp certain aspects of the program, such as a “higher power”.
As an atheist, I found that concept a bit of bullshit, but Wade was able to turn that on its head and put it into the right perspective for my belief systems. It got me to make a connection to a higher power that I can relate to.
The other person I cannot leave out, is Harriet (psychologist). I would love to have Harriet in my life forever – so do my parents! She was able to help me see events from my childhood that pointed towards addictive behaviours. With my background as a mental health worker, we were able to “gel” quite quickly with our conversations.
I’ve seen a raft of psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors since my diagnosis of clinical depression in my teens – and I can honestly say, that apart from one psychiatrist who I did some good work with, Harriet has made such a difference. It took me two months of working with her to get to where I had over years and years of work with other psychologists.
It was great to have that rapport and trust – and be able to cover everything, even the criminal activity that I got involved in during the height of my addiction without feeling like I had to be guarded. I just felt safe disclosing this information and being able to process my feelings without being judged.
If it wasn’t for Harriet, I may have bailed on the rest of the program. It felt so good to lift that shit off my plate. I couldn’t speak more highly of her.
Now I realise that a lot of this started at school – I didn’t know it at the time obviously. I look back on it and everyone was progressing – except me.
I didn’t feel like I belonged. Everyone else was kicking goals and doing wonderfully but I was just…stagnant.
In the time leading up to rehab, I felt isolated, despite my party boy lifestyle. I had a lot of people around me and I’d make up for feeling alone by doing the craziest stupidest shit to get a reaction. I never felt like I had any support.
However, upon leaving rehab, I have come to realise just how much support I HAD and that I DO have now. I couldn’t see it. I was too busy pushing people away and unable to recognise.
I’m still doing outpatient rehab but I’m taking the time to work on the relationships with my kids and with my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend. Outside of my family, they are my two biggest supporters.
I’ve gone from being around massive groups of people and feeling alone, to cutting down my circle to a small handful of people but feeling more connected than I ever had.
The Hader Clinic Queensland has also got me living more in the moment – just for today.
Initially I thought, “what’s this shit?” but I have learned to really embrace it. Once I “got” that, it was like a lightbulb going off – I can choose not to pick up a drink/drugs and just live clean for the next hour and then the next day.
I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for my second chance at life. I’m looking forward to my new future.
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