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I’m seven months clean of ice

After previously undergoing treatment for his ice addiction, James came to the Hader Clinic QLD following a relapse. This is his honest insight into his recovery with us.

Hi, I’m James. I’m 39. I’ve been clean for seven months, but this isn’t my first rodeo with rehab – it’s actually my second time. I did rehab three years ago.

I was in jail and got sent to rehab as part of my bail conditions. Essentially, the first time was to get out of going to jail.

Don’t get me wrong. I did learn things – I learned that I was scared, lonely and angry – but I’m obviously a slow learner because I really didn’t understand my place in it all.

That time, I stayed six months clean then I relapsed. Then I did another six months clean.

I moved to the Sunshine Coast because that’s where we formed our Fellowship.

I was going all right but underneath there were a lot of dramas within my family that I was struggling to deal with.

The relationship I was having with my family was a trigger that opened the floodgates for my last relapse.

You see, I felt generally unsupported by my family in my efforts to turn things around. I have two brothers that are ten years younger than me and a sister who passed away eight years ago from cancer.

Unfortunately, I don’t get on well with my younger brothers. It all comes down to jealousy and my role in the family business.

Back then, I’d just do my own thing. I was a functioning addict, I worked in my own business and for the family’s business.

I got married, and had a daughter, who’s now seven.

When my marriage crumbled, I embarked on a bad journey which ultimately led me to being a criminal.

I went from a background of strict family life to finding drugs and liking them too much as a means of helping me cope with life’s ups and downs.

My drug of addiction was ice.

I first picked up at the age of 22. I was working in my family’s trucking business and using it to stay awake – all the while maintaining a house and a family.

My ex-wife had an affair, my sister died and my brothers didn’t want to know me, so as a means to cope, I turned to drugs and fell in with the wrong crowd of people.

I was very naive about the criminal lifestyle.

Even though I relapsed, I did learn things from my first rehab experience and understood the value of staying connected.

When I relapsed again I was living up the coast, I was feeling lonely and I was hanging out with people who I inherently knew weren’t good for me.

Plus, there was this girl I really shouldn’t have been seeing – and yes, I should have seen it coming but my world turned to shit and bang, I started using again.

My parents kept telling me that I needed to go back to rehab.

I kept telling them, “why would I want to do that? I’ve done it all before”.

But I agreed, and luckily the Hader Clinic Queensland’s retreat was close by.

This time around when I went into rehab, I was ready to accept that I did need to do it again.

I did ninety days in rehab and ninety days in the transition house.

There was more acceptance around going to rehab this time, which was driven by a lack of employment and a three year loss of my driver’s license.

I was living at home with my parents, sad, depressed and at a loose end – so rehab was the best option.

I needed to learn to sit down, shut up and listen in rehab this time around – and take on board the feedback and advice given to me by the staff.

I don’t believe in rock bottom. In the addiction game you can always sink lower. Rock bottom is when you’re dead.

This time around, I’ve learned and understood so much more. It’s a whole lot better for me than being there because of the issues I had with the courts.

This time, I went back because I realized that I was fucked.

The transition house has been great. It’s given me a chance to do the program and integrate back into the real world a bit.

A typical day in the transition house involves a reading, breakfast and a shower. Then it’s whatever the day brings around check ins, meetings and doctors’ appointments.

I’m also going to the gym.

I’m not quite ready to go back to work as that’s another of my biggest triggers.

My parents have bought a farm so I’ll be working on that eventually. I think it’s good for me to get into the country and away from any drug scene. I know I can’t go back to driving trucks.

I have to admit I’ve had a lot of issues with the dynamics in my family.

My mother has been unsupportive and judgmental in the past.

My father, well, last year he’s come around but they were really clueless about my addictive behaviours and how to manage them.

I felt like they wouldn’t listen to me. I got to the point where I thought that their lack of support would have driven me back to jail.

Today, I still blame them for some emotional blackmail.

My parents have come along for the rehab journey which has helped because they’re getting to understand their role in my addiction.

They’ve come to our family nights, they’re attending Al-Anon and I feel like they’re actually listening.

I can see a change in them and it’s helping me.

Their perspective on addiction has changed. 

Last time it felt like they paid me to go away.  “Here’s some money. Run along. Stay away from your brothers.”

I believe it was a way for them to deal with the conflict between us siblings – they paid me to stay away from them and from work.

Deep down I knew I didn’t want money. I wanted my family.

I always said to them that money didn’t buy love.

They thought that by keeping me at arms’ length that I would be doing really well, but the reality was that their money enabled my addictive behaviours.

The relationship with my brother still remains pretty frosty though.

Through rehab I have been able to see that I’ve indulged in behaviours that have needled my parents, such as trying to bring up the relationship I have with my brother – which eventually would have seen me getting worked up in the process.

This time around in rehab, I’m starting to see these things I do. I’m learning to accept the friction between my brother and me.

In short, I’m looking forward to rebuilding my life on the farm and staying connected with a therapeutic community. 

The transition house has made the biggest difference as it’s allowed me to assimilate back into the real world and the family nights have helped my parents understand addiction and how the family plays its part. 

Thanks to everyone at The Hader Clinic Queensland. I’m grateful for the opportunity they gave me.

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