Kris’ Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction
On the verge of suicide, Kris completed residential addiction treatment for his drug and alcohol addiction. Now, almost six months clean, he shares his emotional story.
My name is Kris, I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. When I say Hader Clinic Queensland and the 12 Steps saved my life, I mean this with my whole heart.
My wife came home unexpectedly when I was making recordings for my kids. I was saying goodbye, apologising for being a terrible father, and explaining why I had to take my own life. I believed there was no way I could escape my addiction or repair my actions. For months I had two solid plans – either a train or a 20-story drop. I’d already booked a room at a hotel, an executive suite on the highest floor. It would all be over soon.
The previous night I came home after I’d been driving under the influence with our kids in the car. My wife could tell I was intoxicated. I kept denying it. We argued back and forth like we always had. The fight was so loud our neighbours called the police, I was taken to the watch house and locked up for the night, and a DVO was put in place by the police.
I felt like I’d blown my very last chance. My wife and I had separated because of my alcohol addiction, and around Christmas 2021 I was allowed to move back home, promising her this time I would remain completely sober… but I couldn’t control myself.
I knew my family would be out of the house that day. I only came back to record these messages for my kids, and they would never see me again. But somehow – perhaps the intervention of a Higher Power – my wife came home from work early. She found me crying while I was filming myself confessing my intentions. She was distressed, angry, and shocked but she said I was not a bad person and that I needed help. My wife sat down with me, and we started Googling rehabs. I contacted the team at Hader Clinic Queensland, and I accessed funds from my superannuation for residential addiction treatment.
Since I left Hader Clinic Queensland – for the first time in my life – I am clean and sober. I have a recovery program, 12 Step meetings, and a great relationship with my family. The rehab support staff helped my wife understand the cycle of addiction, and how recovery works.
I’m not a liar anymore. I’m not keeping bongs hidden around my house, or stashing bottles in the car and under my bed. I’m not skulling drinks and getting behind the wheel, endangering my children and other people on the road. I’m not pretending to be sober or in alcohol withdrawal. I’m not having fights with the woman I love. I no longer feel so hopeless that I want to die.
My recovery is a miracle, and it came after years of substance use going back to my early twenties. Many of the people I hung out with were also into drinking and drugs. I had fun times as a teenager, making friends, enjoying music and video games, and going out. I discovered I had a gift and passion for working in hospitality and had a couple of long-term romantic relationships.
I enjoyed working hard and playing hard with my mates when I was younger. I was doing long shifts with my colleagues at a casino and we had some wild times together. After work, we’d be going out to bars and strip clubs, drinking, doing pills, and hanging out in my city apartment. It was such an exciting life but, there were some early signs I was not OK. One day I opened the door to my flat where two cops and the building manager were doing a welfare check – someone had seen me sitting with my legs over the balcony after a night of heavy partying. I’m still not sure what I was doing up there. Even after I was diagnosed and treated for Bi-Polar Disorder, my addiction issues did not go away.
During my twenties, I thought I had my life all under control. I had a stable job, got married to my first wife and had a child. I was secretly abusing weed every day throughout that short marriage, sneaking in cones while my young daughter was asleep, or my wife was out. We had a good co-parenting arrangement after our divorce. I only came clean to my ex-wife about the weed abuse after we broke up. This habit of secrecy was something I carried into my next relationship.
I met a lady at my work (who is now my wife) with a daughter the same age as mine. She was very anti-drugs, so while we were dating I managed to make it look like I was only a casual pot smoker. I would get high before she came over, and hold off using around her so my dependency wasn’t obvious.
We had a beautiful wedding, raising our daughters together as sisters. I got a managerial job at a large supermarket chain. I was always dedicated to my career and trusted by my peers and my boss. We had a baby girl who was 7 weeks premature; she spent the first month of her life in the hospital. I was very motivated to help, making milk deliveries and visiting the NICU. Drugs and alcohol helped me mask my emotions and stress. While my wife was at the hospital from morning until late at night, I had the freedom to immerse myself in drugs, alcohol and online gaming (which was my only form of community and socialising outside work). My family had no idea about how reliant I was on substances. At this point, my wife thought I’d stopped smoking and was just a casual drinker.
I saw myself as “high functioning” – a good dad and husband, a reliable employee – but it was getting harder to hide. One night I was driving home and got pulled over for an RBT. I blew under the limit but tested positive on a drug swab. I had to ring my wife to explain the situation and ask her to pick me up with my kids in the car wondering why daddy was at a police station. She was silent on the way home. Her exact words afterwards were that I would “ruin this family” if I didn’t stop.
After my court-ordered drug diversion, I convinced my wife I was done with smoking pot, but I kept up the habit secretly until she found my utensils and drug stash in the garage. We had another fight, and I told her I was ready to quit (mostly because I knew my usual hiding methods weren’t going to work anymore). After I quit pot I increased my drinking to compensate.
So at age 33 with three children, I was going to work, having 3-4 beers on my breaks, and 6-7 drinks on the way home. For me this was normal. I had such a high tolerance I didn’t even appear drunk at work. As far as my wife knew I was only a weekend drinker, but she noticed my skin was really bad and I was acting spaced out. I would sneak drinks wherever I could (while the kids were asleep, while she was in the shower) with empty bottles hidden all over the house. I told myself my wife and kids were better off not knowing, and I wasn’t harming anyone but myself. And if I got caught, I just found better ways to avoid detection.
There were so many events leading up to my rock bottom, and the life-saving decision to check into Hader Clinic Queensland. It wasn’t any one thing which tipped me over the edge. When I think back, I wish I’d tried to get help a lot sooner
I remember the many fights I had with my wife, and one night when – to my great shame – I grabbed her by the throat in a drunken rage. I was never a violent person. I hated seeing my dad physically assaulting my mum as a kid, and now I was behaving no better than him. I remember being taken away in a police car and one of my kids asked if I was going to jail, which just broke me. I remember my wife finding out I was drinking again when she saw our 2-year-old daughter sucking on discarded bottle caps. I remember our 10-year-old daughters running outside and trying to comfort me while I was having a panic attack in our front lawn. I remember drinking all during my separation, telling the Drug Arm counsellors what they wanted to hear just to get my certificate, and being allowed back home only to continue the cycle all over again.
We chose Hader Clinic Queensland because I needed a proper rehab, not just a resort. I was still drinking until the day I left, telling my children daddy was going away to get himself better. They were crying and my wife was hysterical. Although it was nerve-wracking I told my boss I needed to take time off for treatment because I had a serious drinking problem. He was very understanding and said he believed I would come back a better person.
When I arrived outside the clinic I was on the phone with my wife and for the first time in many years, she told me she was proud of me.
Hader Clinic staff didn’t put any pressure on me to go to classes for the first couple of days, but I volunteered to go to the first session soon as I arrived. They gave me Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous literature while I detoxed, and I found the concepts taught me a lot about myself. Even though it was sometimes uncomfortable and there were strict rules, I found my 30 Day stay an amazing experience.
About 10 days into rehab it all hit me, I broke down and cried, and other addicts gave me support. My wife received support from the Hader Clinic Family Coordinator which helped her understand recovery. After the first visit, she said she could see how I was changing. Hader Clinic gave my wife booklets and advice about things like enabling and boundaries. She knows she can’t be my supervisor or sponsor, and no amount of love can replace meetings or a recovery program. In the time since I left rehab, we’ve had a couple of disagreements, but they never escalate to screaming, everything is honest. I understand her feelings a lot more, and she feels in turn this has made her a better person.
I’m now 5 months and 30 days sober. And I’ve discovered my favourite drink isn’t wine or beer (and never was) – it’s soda water and ginger beer. I love being able to enjoy a drink for the flavour and not to get wasted. I have a fantastic sponsor who keeps me on track and we have a truly loving friendship. Previously my ‘friends’ were dealers or people I interacted with while online gaming. I had no idea how isolated and small my world was. But now I have so many people in my recovery community I can call and rely on.
These days I now spend lots more time with my kids, helping them do homework and playing together. I still love gaming, but I’ve expanded my interests. My wife bought me a dog and we walk every day while I listen to podcasts. I do a lot of journaling and have read more books than at any time in my life. At the moment I’m reading Recovery by Russell Brand, Atomic Habits, and Barefoot Investor. I’m getting into being smart with my money so I can set my kids up for a good future. I want to save up for some travelling too.
I’ve learned that connection is the opposite of addiction. Before I went to Hader Clinic I had no idea about 12 Step Fellowships, or how to build a life with a deep connection to others. I don’t have contact with my parents; explaining things to them would be impossible. But we can build an extended family with others in recovery. It’s a relief to know there are people to check in with me, and who I can support as well. Each day I read the daily meditations for NA and AA just like I did in rehab – it reminds me who I am.
Last weekend I went to a music festival with my wife. There was weed and alcohol everywhere, but I didn’t even want to drink or use – that obsession has been lifted. My main focus now is keeping myself clean and sober one day at a time.
I would gladly have paid ten times over what it cost to attend Hader Clinic Queensland. You cannot put a price on the life I have now.
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