Leah’s Recovery Story
Preparing for her first Christmas sober, Leah recounts her journey of ice addiction treatment.
I didn’t touch anything until I was 21 years old. When I was young, I was abused which greatly affected my mental health, and began to hate the world for it.
Whilst dealing with the courts in organising a domestic violence order, the whole ordeal was very stressful for me, and ice became a way of making everything better.
This is the story of my addiction and recovery.
Someone offered ice to me, when I was with a group of friends who I knew were into it. Being in a vulnerable moment, I said yes. And that was it for me.
The first time I tried ice, I just felt invincible, like I could do anything. I had really low self-confidence and was very shy, but when I had that (ice), I could talk to anyone. I felt invincible and untouchable.
I started off just doing it on the weekends when I was out. But then it got to a point where I was thinking, “this stuff is really good” and it turned into four days a week, then five, and then eventually I was doing it every day. I didn’t think I could cope without it.
My family grew really concerned. All of a sudden, I had become this heavy drug user. And they really didn’t understand it.
They said, “You really need to slow down.” I was like “Nah I’m only doing it every now and then.” In reality, I was doing it every day. It’s like I wasn’t even aware of this fact.
I got admitted into a psych ward and got off ice there. I was in the ward for three weeks. I thought I wouldn’t touch it again after those three weeks. Two months later, I started alcohol. I was missing that feeling I got from the ice use. But then I started drinking every day, and the drinking eventually led me back on to ice.
Then my Dad said to me one day, “You need help. I’ve got this program at Hader Clinic Queensland, you need to go to it, and if not, we can’t do this anymore.”
I had an ultimatum. I had to go get help, or I’d lose my family. When Dad told me that, I felt really hurt. I thought, how could they do this to me? But then I also thought of everything I’d done to them for them to be in this position, sending me to rehab.
At this point, I knew I had a bit of a problem, but I didn’t think I needed to go to a place like the Hader Clinic Queensland. I was still functioning, going to work and stuff. I thought I was alright, that this was just the way of life. But it really wasn’t.
I went to rehab in Gympie, and at first, I thought I was stuck there. I thought my family wouldn’t come back to get me. I was really scared because I hadn’t been away from family that long. I felt like they’d given up. On day two, I packed my bags thinking “I’m not doing this.”
By the end of the week though, I was like, actually, this is really good. Looking back now, it’s the best thing I ever did.
The first week was really rough, but I just thought, “I need to do this.” I got stuck into the program and decided that if I still felt like this in two weeks, I’d rethink, but at this point I hadn’t even given it a chance yet, so I slept on it, and decided to stick it out.
I made it!
You start there thinking “screw this” but next thing you know you’re helping the person who wants to leave on their first week and convincing them “No, don’t stop before the miracle happens! We’ve been in your shoes before.”
I absolutely loved the people there. It was good to be with like-minded people – normally, you’re dealing with judgey people who don’t understand that you don’t choose that life. But at rehab, it wasn’t like that at all.
You feel really supported like you’re not alone.
The fact that rehab had support staff with lived experience… that was what really sold it for me when Dad told me to go. I said, “I’m not going to listen to people who don’t know shit.” And Dad said, “No, they’re ex-addicts.” I was like WOW they are? Do they know what it’s like? That was just one of many things I loved about the Hader Clinic Queensland.
I absolutely thrived on the structure and routine during rehab. In addition, you really don’t have any of that. So initially, you’re like, “what the hell?” You’ve got to get up and do things at certain times. But I really thrived off that. Journaling really helped me too. I stopped journaling when I got out of rehab, and I felt like my program was failing, so I started journaling again and felt much better for it. Journaling is a big part of my recovery.
I was scared about going back home.
I was in a bubble for three months, and when it came time to transition out to the real world, it was quite daunting for me. I knew I had to go back to work and stuff.
But I just had to. That’s life. You can’t hide behind a substance, and that’s what I had done for ages – I didn’t know how to live real life anymore. But you just had to. Most people knew where I was at, and I was actually congratulated for going to get help. I felt really good. People were coming to me for once. I transitioned really well back into it, even though I didn’t think I would.
My parents were very happy to see me when I came back.
“We’ve finally got our daughter back,” they said.
After rehab, I used the aftercare app, which was really good. It kept me honest. You checked in every day as you would have at the rehab, so that was cool. And then you got the meditation as well. I meditate three times a day. It’s something I learned through rehab.
When I first started the meditation at the rehab, I thought, “this shit doesn’t work.” I would just sit there and hate the world. But once I got into it, I thought, “this is actually pretty cool – I can use this when I’m having a bad day.” It sucks me out of it.
I found the aftercare app, and especially the counselling sessions with Olivia were really good for me.
It was great to have that continued support after. I kind of thought after rehab that was it. But Hader Clinic Queensland really cared afterwards as well.
I finished the 90-day rehab program on September 7 this year. This will my first Christmas sober since before being in active addiction. I’m keen but nervous. It’s scary thinking of what I’ll talk about. But this will be a good test for me.
I’m going to keep it small this year, just with immediate family who know what I’ve been through. Maybe next year I can do something bigger, but for now, I’m being smart with my recovery.
I do get nervous thinking about someone offering me a drink. I’m worried that at a time like Christmas, I’ll want it. But my family understands, so I’ll be fine.
I’m excited to celebrate Christmas and am thankful to Hader Clinic Queensland for helping me get to where I am now.
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