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From Addict to Recovery to Helping Addicts – Paula’s Story

Paula is one of our support staff at our Brisbane drug rehab centre. She is also a recovering addict.

We believe it is important, as part of our women’s addiction treatment program that we have staff that can relate to the person in recovery and understand their situation, thoughts and feelings as it helps create an environment where the addict feels safe and secure, and more at ease to open themselves up to the components of the treatment program, resulting in better outcomes.

Paula has kindly offered to share her story.

My name is Paula

Hi, my name is Paula. I work at the Hader Clinic Queensland as a support member for people undertaking the residential addiction treatment program.

I am also a recovering addict.

Here is my story.

I grew up in a broken home with parents who had problems with drug and alcohol addiction. Even though I didn’t want to become like them, every choice I made after my 10th birthday, I was fast becoming them.

So, from the very moment I started using I was using against my will. I didn’t want to use, but I couldn’t stop.

From the age of 13 I was out of home living on the streets but mostly couch surfing.

Then by the age 15 I was pregnant with my first child.

I didn’t want my child to grow up with an addict as a mother but no matter what I did to change my behaviour (I changed states, changed medications, changed partners and stopped using the substance that was causing the most trouble) some way or another the despair would creep back in.

I didn’t know abstinence was a thing. I had just resigned myself to the fact that I was always going to use in one form or another, and so from late teens to mid-twenties my days were spent trying to find the right level of substances in order to function.

My needs versus my bodies capacity to tolerate such amounts were on a different scale and as a result I had many hospital admissions.

Overdoses, mental breakdowns and suicide attempts were all common.

Then, when I was 26, my last “rock bottom” began.

As a direct result of my using, my three beautiful daughters were removed from my care. This then triggered some of my worst using.

To cut a long story short, this led to me entering a drug and rehab clinic in July 2011, pregnant with my fifth child – which I only found out about during my detox process.

For the first time in 20 years I stopped running.

It was tough.

The groups were confronting and for the first time in my life I was looking squarely at myself instead of blaming others for all of my problems.

The transition through recovery was difficult but on the other side of the recovery process came a greater freedom than I had ever known;  the freedom of choice, the freedom of owning my own life and gaining control of the direction in which I was headed.

Happiness was fast becoming a common state.

For the first time in my life I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I could live a life beyond my wildest dreams. But for this to happen I had to do the work.

I attended daily 12 step meetings, which I still attend regularly to this day.

I have done a lot of personal self-development via the steps and other means such as therapy etc.

My physical health has improved substantially and one of the greatest things to have changed for me is my peace of mind.

My children were all returned to my care. My youngest, who has always been with me, has never seen me affected by any substance whatsoever and if I keep on doing what works, she never will.

I was able to return to studies and I attended a bridging program at university.

I was a year 8 drop out but I changed my life around and made it to university.

After completing university I decided to gain qualifications that would enable me to help others who have been, or are, where I was at my worst.

I am now in the process of completing a dual Certificate IV in Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs and I work for the very cause that saved my life.

I do this because I believe that if recovery can work for me, then it can work for any one who is ready to do whatever it takes.

I’ve managed to stay clean since my first day of treatment. It is a hard earned miracle.

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Women’s Addiction Treatment

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