Larisa’s Story of Addiction Recovery
Larisa recently completed the 29-day residential addiction treatment for her addiction. This is her story.
My addiction started when I had my first child in the middle of the COVID pandemic. It took much convincing from my husband and his family for me to seek out residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland.
As any woman would know, having a child can be a very isolating experience, but in addition I had the pandemic and was in a different state to our extended families. I had a very traumatic birth that ended in an emergency c-section, and I have since been diagnosed with PTSD from the experience.
I used to take prescription opioids for back pain and period pain when you could just get them over the counter and never seemed to have a problem with them. It wasn’t until the traumatic birth of my first child that my addiction really started. My cycle of addiction started with opioids when I was prescribed them after the birth of my son as I was in a lot of pain. I was taking them for a while until the physical pain subsided, and when I stopped taking them I realised that they were making me feel better in other ways.
I quite liked the feeling the opioids were giving me but managed not to take them for a while because I was breastfeeding, and I didn’t want to keep taking them. However, once my son weaned it felt like I could do what I wanted. I remembered the feeling they gave me and as I was stressed from other things and going back to work I started seeking them out again.
This was when they changed the laws around over-the-counter medicines and you needed a prescription, so I started doctor shopping. I was doctor shopping to be able to get more and more prescriptions and I was in denial for a long time as even though I needed them for my back pain, I didn’t need as much as I was taking. I kept saying I didn’t have a problem which made the doctor shopping last as long as it did since I was justifying to myself that I actually needed them.
My husband and I were living in Queensland and when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression we made the decision to move back to South Australia to be close to our families. We thought this would be helpful as we would have more support from our loved ones. It was a stressful time moving, but I thought it would help overall, unfortunately, I just got more and more stressed with family drama and other things.
What took me down a really bad road was the fact that my mother-in-law and father both had chronic illnesses with basically an infinite supply of opiates. For example, my mother-in-law was being prescribed 180 Panadeine Forte at a time and I knew exactly where they were kept. I started to get really clever with sneaking a few pills out of my mother-in-law’s room, and then from my father’s prescribed opiates as well.
While I was doing that I was constantly saying to myself how it was wrong and wasn’t like me. I’ve always been a very honest person, but it was like I completely lost control of what I was doing and just couldn’t stop.
Eventually, my mother-in-law realised that a lot of her tablets had suddenly gone missing, and my brother-in-law figured out it was me. They staged a family intervention with my husband, and I went to the doctor and planned to detox without going through opioid withdrawal. I was doing well for maybe a week or two and then I changed to alcohol instead.
Everyone kept telling me that I shouldn’t drink alcohol because I would just replace the opioids with the alcohol, but I convinced myself that I wouldn’t and that I would be fine. There were a few family gatherings where I’d only drink a few glasses but within a month it turned into buying bottles of vodka and hiding them from my husband. It was the addict side of me taking over again as I knew I couldn’t get the opioids anymore, so I turned to alcohol instead.
I was a high-functioning addict because I was still able to work and do most things during this time. I did feel unwell a lot of the time, but I hid it well as I was never throwing up or anything like that, I would just get up and have another shot to get through the rest of the day. I’m not sure how I was still able to function, but I did.
Eventually, I hit rock bottom, I kept blacking out and my husband noticed so he found Hader Clinic Queensland and convinced me to go. At first, I kept saying I didn’t want to go to rehab and that it would be too hard to stay away from my son.
I remember going to my mother-in-law’s house and she was talking about it and then my brother-in-law turned up as well and was bringing it up, saying that they didn’t think I had a choice and that I couldn’t do it alone and it would be helpful. It took a lot of convincing as I thought I could beat addiction myself even though I clearly couldn’t.
Eventually, I gave in and said I’ll go up for Hader Clinic Queensland’s 29-day program. There were a lot of tears, but I was worried that if I didn’t do it my family wouldn’t trust me again, so I made it up there.
I learnt a lot about myself at Hader Clinic Queensland and having those four weeks to focus on myself was really great. I think everyone should do it for themselves, even just for their own mental health.
It was great having the sessions with the Psychologist and Psychiatrist, the classes and just talking to everyone else in the community as well. I learnt a lot about what led me to use substances in the first place, it wasn’t just something that happened, there was a reason why I needed them to make myself feel better.
The residential addiction treatment really helped me deal with the underlying issues of my addiction, like the trauma from the birth of my son that I haven’t appropriately processed, so now I’m doing therapy for that. I was also diagnosed with OCD which has also helped because I’m getting on top of that. I learnt so much about addiction, the disease and how it works and that I’m not alone in it, and the support and going to meetings as well.
I never thought I would go to meetings as I didn’t know what they were except what you see on movies or on tv shows, but since my alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland, I’ve been going to meetings daily. It’s nice to be able to share how I’m feeling and be the most honest I can be with no judgement. It’s also good to hear others’ stories as they can be really motivating.
It’s been challenging as it’s definitely easier in the clinic, but the main thing I am doing is going to meetings and I’ve managed to find a sponsor who will help me progress through the steps. I’ve also been really honest with my husband and trying to keep myself as accountable as I can.
The biggest impact my addiction has had is on my relationships due to the lying and stealing, which was not like me at all. Everyone trusted me, even when things were missing I was the last person they would suspect, so my addiction has really impacted that trust.
My family is still walking on eggshells a bit but I’m hopeful that I’m getting there. They’re all really supportive and they’ve been telling me that it’s great to have ‘me’ back. I’ve been with my husband for 11 years, so his family knows me very well, and it’s been really rewarding having them make those comments that I’m like myself again because I felt like I completely lost who I was before going to Hader Clinic Queensland.
Lastly, I want to tell anyone that is struggling with addiction, is thinking about going to rehab, or is trying to be talked into going like I was, it’s so much more rewarding than what you could imagine. It was nothing like I expected, and it was so beneficial to have that time away from work, away from any triggers to just focus on myself and get myself together, recover and make some connections with people. It was such a rewarding experience and it’s not something to be scared of, there’s nothing really bad that can come out of going. It’s worth it in the long run. My husband said to me before I went because I was worried about being away from my son for such a long time – it’s a month or it could be the rest of your life, and I think that’s something that is really valuable.
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