Gary’s Transition to Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction
From using alcohol to cope as a teen to an out-of-control drug addiction, it took a couple of times hitting what I thought was rock bottom until I actually did hit rock bottom, sought help and completed 90 days of detox and rehab and 6 months of the transition program.
My upbringing was pretty stable, I had a supportive home life and externally it looked like my life was pretty good. I went through some bullying at school and experienced some difficulties with my mental health in my teens. I started getting treatment for my mental health at the end of high school, which is also the time that I discovered alcohol. I thought I had found the answer as it took me away from my difficult mindset and distracted me from what was going on.
I went to university and kept drinking heavily to escape. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my room and instead drink as I was too afraid to do anything. I got my degree in Pharmacy and started working rurally. I felt like I was thriving for a couple of years there, then I went overseas for six months and was introduced to cocaine. While I was travelling I was drinking heavily and using cocaine which resulted in my mental health deteriorating rapidly.
When I came back from overseas and started working again things went downhill pretty quickly. As a pharmacist I had a bit more access than the average person to pharmaceuticals so I started using drugs more heavily. I had a bad car accident where I was prescribed strong pain medication and suffered from PTSD, so I was using pretty heavily and I thought I had hit rock bottom.
I was self-medicating and utilising my knowledge of how drugs worked to use alcohol and Valium to come down at night, and then Ritalin and stimulants to wake up and work during the day. Working in healthcare I had seen signs of addiction before, but I was in denial that I was experiencing the same issues. Eventually, the drug usage got out of control and I had a breakdown at work, causing me to lose my job and my registration.
Work was my identity; it was what I had wrapped my idea of ‘Gary’ around so to speak. When I lost that I thought I had lost everything. My mental health plummeted, and I ended up in a mental health unit before being transferred to a detox program. I detoxed and thought that I was fine, but once I got back out I was drinking and using again.
I was working as a labourer and using and drinking heavily. Because I had lost my access to drugs I was drinking far more than using and I thought it was fine because alcohol was legal and therefore it wasn’t as bad. The denial remained strong as my mentality got progressively worse and worse. My partner left me, I moved to another city and then lost my job due to flooding. I had a breakdown and overdosed which caused me to end up in more detoxes and rehabs, but I was so entrenched in denial that I didn’t want to change anything.
Mum was looking into rehabs for me and found Hader Clinic Queensland on Facebook. She called them up and told me about the program but there was no way I was going. Well, that’s what I thought at the time. I was pretty adamant but one day I felt so broken and alone emotionally that I finally hit my true rock bottom.
Out of desperation I called Hader and was booked in for the 28-day detox program. During my 28 days, it soon became apparent that a month was not going to be enough for me to have a real crack at making a positive change in my life. So I enrolled for the additional 60 days of Hader’s residential addiction treatment program, making it 90 days in total.
The best thing Hader did was introduce me to NA, which is when things really started to change for me. After 70 days in rehab, I started to look into the Transitional Housing Program as a few people had mentioned that you could keep doing what you were doing in rehab but living normally in a house at the same time.
I did six months of the Transitional Housing Program as I knew I didn’t feel ready to be let loose back into the real world. Hader’s Transition Program had the structure and accountability of the rehab, but the freedom of living normally in a house. I really started to change as a person during those 6 months. I did everything I was told to do; I ate my three meals a day, got a sponsor, got a homegroup, followed the program and ended up getting a lot out of it.
I really surrendered to the Transition Program and things just started getting better. I got a job, I found an outside psychologist and a GP who is helping me, and I started working on getting my pharmacy registration back. One of the Hader Clinic workers, Olivia, actually encouraged me to try for my registration as I had doubts that someone in my position had a shot at getting that back.
Having that support throughout the Transitional Housing Program, and the community as well around me meant that when I was struggling I could immediately reach out and have someone to talk to. And having others in the house who were going through similar experiences motivated me to stay on track as I stayed clean and sober and went through early recovery.
Since leaving the Transitional Housing Program I believe in myself and have a newfound sense of confidence. I had doubts about things, especially getting my registration back, but I stuck to my guns and was very honest with those around me. I have now got my registration back and even landed a job in the place I had always dreamed of living. Thanks to my time at Hader Clinic Queensland I am 18 months clean and sober, I have the tools to handle what life throws at me, and I have self-esteem and confidence in myself.
Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.
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