I’m 12 months clean!

Mick, an army veteran, and a recovering alcoholic last shared his addiction treatment story six months ago. Now a year clean he’s sharing another insight into his ongoing recovery journey.

It feels like a lifetime ago when I last shared my story about my time in rehab and at the time being six months clean.

It is now a year since I completed the Hader Clinic Queensland’s ninety day drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and since then, I’ve been in the outpatient program or what I’d call “maintenance”.

I’ve stayed this long in the outpatient program to keep myself accountable and follow through with what I’d call “the basics” and most importantly, keep myself connected, because connection is the opposite of addiction.

I’m always trying to keep that connection going because the nature of addiction is isolating.

In the last seven days, I’ve secured a job and I will be moving out of the transitional housing.

Life is great, I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve achieved so much in such a short time.

One year of being clean has been worthy of celebration – I even had three cakes that week!

Not that everything has been smooth sailing of course.

I’ve had a few wobbles along the way, but I’m learning that’s part of the recovery process.

There was a stage there where I was feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere in the program, I couldn’t see the final outcome and as a result, I really started to sweat the small things.

I think in general, that’s what I do when I’m a bit stressed – let the small stuff get to me.

How did I turn it around?

I started reading a lot of books that were recommended to me by the staff at the clinic. I did this to help me understand why I was feeling this way. That really helped pull me through. 

The staff here were a great help in helping me overcome these thoughts.

I decided to do some training (Certificate III in Cleaning Operations) to enable me to get a job.

I’m also saving to be able to do some community counselling courses because I want to help people.

I’ve always wanted to help others. I don’t know why.

I remember as a kid being told that I’d end up as a preacher or within that line of work. I’m always that person helping an old lady across the road or carrying her bags to the car.

It makes me feel good to help others.

Years ago, I read that helping others releases endorphins in the brain. They’re right, I do get a rush out of it.

On reflection, I used to help a lot of people out to make me forget about myself. I think that’s where I came unstuck a long time ago.

I helped so many people, I neglected to get the help that I so desperately needed. I lost my sense of self in giving too much.

These days I’m more balanced. I don’t seek gratification or praise for helping others now. I just do it because I can.

Another big “take home” message I’ve learned is that there’s always help available if you’re willing to ask for it.

Years ago, I wouldn’t have reached out, because I didn’t think I deserved those things. Recovery has taught me that I actually DO deserve these things and then some!

Whether those things are physical, financial, mental or spiritual I know that I am worthy and that I can get around my pride and ask for help.

I’m still volunteering with the Salvos.

I just don’t do as much as I did before – because I realised that I had to put my recovery front and centre – some days I miss volunteering due to this – however I don’t worry as I’m there to help for the long term.

Sometimes it’s once a week or a couple of times a month – or even three days a week. I’m learning that I can’t save everyone too.

I’ll always be volunteering with the Salvos. It helps me identify feelings within myself of what I was like at the height of my addiction.

I was selfish, and didn’t care about anyone else’s journey. Actually, I was numb more than anything else.

Now I can go down to Streetlevel and I can see the growth in me.

I know it sounds bad, but I can also laugh at where they’re at – I can find the humour in it because I was there myself. It’s my way of separating myself from active addiction and not getting drawn into the drama of it.

With my new job, I’m starting with a small allocation of hours. It’s a trial period, but I’m not too worried about that as I know my confidence and ability will get me more work.

It’s not going to impose too much on my recovery – as it’s night time work. I feel like I’m ready to work now.

I had reservations about going back into the workforce and doing what I was doing before.

It wasn’t a lot of day time work and the culture of the job is that everyone has a beer or uses drugs after they knock off. I voiced my hesitation, prayed about it.

In the end I handed the problem over to my Higher Power and asked Him to help me find my way, to give me the right direction – and the next thing I know, I find this job where my commitment to recovery isn’t affected.

That’s the thing, our Higher Power opens and closes doors all the time for us – but most of the time we’re not noticing what’s going on.

We’re too busy sweating the small things. If we can just sit back, relax, we can see those doorways being opened to us.

It’s nice to be taking steps towards independence again.

I’m so grateful to the Hader Clinic Queensland for their help.

If it hadn’t been for my time in the Defence force, I would not have been able to access this opportunity to get clean as the Hader Clinic Queensland is a Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) Approved Provider of addiction treatment services.

I treat my recovery as a gift and something to be cherished.

I want to live each day honouring that gift, that chance that I’ve been given.

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