Lori's Alcohol Addiction Recovery - Hader Clinic Queensland
Alcohol Addiction

Lori’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery

At 58, Lori didn’t expect to find herself in rehab for treatment of alcohol addiction and as soon as she took action, everything changed.

Hi, my name is Lori and this is my addiction recovery story.

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of our family background of alcoholism until my early twenties. I grew up with an alcoholic father. He wasn’t what you’d describe as a “happy drunk”. He would yell and scream and pour venomous words upon me about how worthless and useless I was.

I hated the way he treated me – and at the time, I couldn’t differentiate his normal behaviour from how he behaved when he was drinking.

I had always equated being alcoholic as being homeless and sitting in a park with a paper bag. Until my sister told me, I had no idea.

I was seventeen when I first tried alcohol. I remember getting drunk on a Friday or a Saturday night occasionally, but it wasn’t until I was living with my boyfriend that I started to have more awareness around it. For example, once I was having a nice night out with my girlfriends, and my boyfriend was with his mates. He got so drunk that I locked him out of the house, because he reminded me of my Dad.

Looking back, I started my adult years with shaky foundations in regards to my self confidence and self worth.

I met my husband-to-be when I was 23, and got married at 25. I can’t even remember alcohol being a part of my life for many, many years. I may have had a drink at Christmas time, or on someone’s birthday – it really didn’t feature in my life.

There was particularly one time I remember getting drunk – this was shortly after my daughter was born and we wanted to celebrate. I recall having one drink too many, and remember putting my arm through a glass window.

After that, I didn’t drink again for several years – I would have a few drinks every now and again with one of my girlfriends, but that was it. Other than with her, it was only at special times like Christmas or birthdays.

What flipped the switch towards addiction was a big emotional upheaval. My husband walked out on me in 2010 and acquired a new girlfriend.

My girlfriend was a big drinker and loved a party. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with her.

She invited me to Hamilton Island with her and her children. It was an unusual situation to be in to say the least. She was still a big drinker and I would go out and drink with her.

However, once I was away from her, any desire to drink at all disappeared.

While I was still on Hamilton Island, I met my now ex-boyfriend. He was a daily drinker.

When he moved in, there’d always be a drink at home waiting for me. And this is where it all started in 2011.

I remember coming home from Hamilton Island, and when we talked, we’d have drinks in hand. He drank every day.

In this environment, alcohol consumption started to become a bit of habit. It really crept up on me quite insidiously. I’d come home after work, have a few drinks, cooked dinner etc etc.

After two years, the boyfriend decided that things weren’t working out. I was going through my divorce at that stage and I think that he was sick of my ex husband taking front and centre during this time.

He packed his bags and moved to Queensland.

I decided to follow him. I uprooted my life, basically, and moved away from my family to a location where I knew nobody. Little did I know that I was inadvertently creating the ‘perfect storm’ for addiction to take hold – I was unintentionally isolating myself from loved ones.

Then, the relationship did not work out the way I wanted it to. I was also unwell and on opiates for a couple of years to treat pain. I was depressed and miserable.

When I was taken off the opiates, that was it, my drinking took over.

I was lonely, I had no purpose in my life.

I found rehab through my psychologist at 58 years old. I’d never lived in a share house (as I’m doing now in the Transition Housing Program). I’d always lived either alone or with my family.

Rehab made me realise that I was lonely. At rehab, I was surrounded by other people and it helped improve my mood. I’d tried a couple of detoxes in hospital and I’d do well – but as soon as you put me back in the real world, it would be a different story! Residential rehab provided the connection that I needed.

It was a good experience. I thought that I was doing OK during the first four to five weeks when something happened I wasn’t expecting.

The staff told me quite bluntly that I wasn’t willing to work the program.

Those words felt like a smack in the teeth. “Yes, I am!” I thought. “I’m doing everything you ask!”

However, it made me stop and take a look at myself – and it was at that point, I realised the staff were right. I wasn’t willing. In the whole recovery process I’d been going through the motions and “doing the right thing” but I wasn’t being an active participant – I wasn’t taking action.

From that point on, things changed as I decided to change.

Upon reflection, I acknowledged that I’d been to therapy for many years – but once it got too hard, I’d just run the other way. I thought I was willing to find an answer, because I kept going back to the doctor and saying “what can we do?”

I’d listen to them, I’d attend therapy every week but in between these times nothing changed. I had the perception that showing up for my appointments was enough to get me well. Of course, this wasn’t true. Therefore, the seed was planted that although I said everything right, and read self help books, I wasn’t really willing to take action.

The intent was there, but there was no follow through. I wanted a solution, I really did, but there was no action. I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is really important.

As soon as I took action, everything changed. My attitude changed.

Now, I see that I viewed life negatively over the years. I never saw the positives in myself, because my Dad was always drumming into me how awful I was.

I was fearful. I would sabotage any opportunities I had because that’s the only thing I knew. Because I was scared, I never gave anything a go.

Life is exciting now, and full of possibility. I have to keep learning that it’s about what I want now, because I’ve spent my whole life believing that I’m not worthy of much.

I am really thankful that I went to The Hader Clinic Queensland. When I did the private detoxes, I just returned to the life I had. I had that “inaction” attitude as well – I’d front up every week and listen, but I wouldn’t do the homework because I’d say, “I don’t know how to do it,” or, “I can’t do it”. I had hoped fronting up for 26 weeks of outpatient therapy would somehow magically change me because I’d turned up.

I’m now undertaking a Transition Housing program. It’s based around being a therapeutic community – everyone wants recovery and we can support each other. Being in the group gave me more confidence. I felt like I had a cheer squad. People with in the group told me that I needed to be more confident. It was good to experience this with people who weren’t my immediate family. That meant a lot to me – that other people who weren’t family wanted to support me for myself. I felt that everyone was there just as much for me as they were for themselves.

I’m doing meetings twice a day – for the first week I was pretty tired doing face to face meetings, so now I’m doing one face to face meeting and one online meeting which is giving me a better balance. I have also found a great sponsor, who is wonderful. She gives me half an hour of her day, five days a week. We talk at 6:30am each morning, and although it’s early, it starts my day in the best possible way.

I don’t mind living in a share house either. It’s just an experience I would have never otherwise had in my life. It feels right, I guess.

Life is on the up and up. It’s great to now see the glass half full instead of half empty. I will have some decisions to make about whether I move closer to home to be with my family, but for the next month or so, I’m focusing on completing the Transitional Housing Program, one day at a time.

I am appreciative towards the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland. That so many have lived experience of addiction themselves, gives extra meaningfulness to any tips they give you.

Thank you to the Hader Clinic Queensland for opening my eyes to this brand new life.

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