Mac’s Alcohol Addiction Recovery
32 years in active alcohol addiction. 250 days clean. Mac has finally found his freedom.
My name’s Mac and I’m an alcoholic. I spent thirty-two years in active addiction and in December 2019, I entered rehab for addiction treatment and gained my freedom. This is my story.
I probably had my first drink at the age of 16. Both of my parents drank alcohol, but never to excess and there was always alcohol in the house. After that first drink I wasn’t tempted to continue, it just didn’t seem like an issue.
It wasn’t until I joined the army at 18 that my alcohol use escalated.
At that time, it was an inherent part of Defence Force culture – you had to drink in order to fit in and be socially accepted.
It was part of the indoctrination and training as such. For example, when officers of a higher rank visited the base for meetings etc, alcohol was always served.
Drinking was not just about mateship, but reward – if we did a good job as a platoon, we would be rewarded with alcohol.
I did my initial three year service and then decided to leave the army to work and travel around Australia.
There’s not many parts of Australia that I haven’t been to – I’ve worked in every State and Territory.
In the rural areas, life revolved around pub culture. Before I joined the army, I worked in a pub in Tasmania where I developed a taste for beer.
I worked in the transport industry working in wide load, heavy haulage truck driving. It was a lifestyle where you only worked during the day, and you had all afternoon or evening to drink. There wasn’t really anything to stop me from drinking.
Eventually, I got married and lived up near Mt Isa.
We did a travelling holiday and worked there.
My wife was a nurse, and didn’t enjoy living in Mt Isa. She didn’t enjoy me drinking.
We moved back to Brisbane, where our marriage deteriorated and we mutually agreed to go our separate ways.
However, she had her own demons to deal with. My wife who was much younger than me, was also an alcoholic, who drank heavily, and lost her own mother to suicide as a result of alcoholism.
I remember that she felt traumatised by her childhood.
Despite the separation being mutually agreed upon, the split had me falling into a deeper hole.
I lost my license for the first time.
I continued to live in Brisbane – and spent the next ten years working in the transport industry. Eventually I lost my driver’s license four times due to drinking. I was lucky that my employer kept me on.
The last (and final) time I lost my license was in September 2019.
I was asleep in my parked car, got breathalysed and lost my license for not being in proper control of my vehicle. That led me to making the admission that I had a problem with alcohol, that my life had become unmanageable, and that I needed to do something about it.
I never drank at work, or during work hours. However, as soon as those hours finished, I would start drinking. My work hours were all over the place though.
As soon as I went back to doing interstate transport, this would mean that I could be drinking at any time of the day.
I could do a Brisbane to Melbourne and get in at 2 in the morning. If I knew that I had a ten to twelve hour break, I would start drinking before the truck’s engine had even begun to cool down, it was that bad.
I was indulging in this behaviour seven days a week. Every day was a day to drink. There was never an alcohol free day, let alone stringing a week of clean days together until I came to Hader Clinic Queensland.
I looked at Hader Clinic Queensland about four years ago.
However, when I realised that the DVA and Hader Clinic Queensland were aligned, I approached my local RSL, and they pointed me in the right direction.
They were very welcoming and keen to help me with my addiction. T
hey pointed me towards The Hader Clinic Queensland and on the 12th December, 2019, I walked down the stairs into rehab.
Until I admitted I had a problem, rehab would never have worked.
Even my local RSL branch knew that I had a drinking problem and had tried to intervene, but I wasn’t ready. RSL Queensland’s support and guidance led me down the path to rehab and I couldn’t be more grateful.
We tried self-help and the Open Arms program (who were fabulous), but it soon became evident that I required extra support and when they asked me if I would be prepared to go to rehab, I jumped at the opportunity.
The first week was a bit rough as I had to detox.
Thank God for Hayden and the team at Hader Clinic Queensland.
I had no idea what rehab was about.
I thought that I would go in there for ninety days, come out, and be able to drink like a ‘normal person’.
All I thought at the time was that “I drank too much”.
Now that I’ve completed the program, been in the transition house, and am in the Fellowship plus working on the “12 Steps”, that I have realised alcoholism is a disease and that I’m never going to be able to drink again.
I never understood why I couldn’t stop or drink a cup of coffee instead.
There were only two things in my life – drink a cup of coffee at 2 or 3 in the morning prior to work and then spend the rest of the day drinking. No in between. Alcohol just controlled my life.
It really did feel like I was indoctrinated in the military.
I had a loving family, a good upbringing, no abuse.
There didn’t seem to be any family or genetic reason that would pre dispose me to becoming an alcoholic.
There was never any other abuse, sexual, substance abuse or otherwise. It feels like there aren’t too many people in the Defence Force that return to civilian life scot free.
I am appreciative of the help given by the DVA.
Life without alcohol is a good life.
I didn’t believe it initially.
When I walked through the doors at Hader Clinic Queensland, I was quite sceptical during the first thirty days. Plus, there were points where I was thinking, “ninety days? I don’t need this!”
However, it’s turned out the be the best experience, the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.
It’s hard to explain.
When you are truly recovering, ninety days doesn’t seem like enough.
There was never any time in my life where I could have two or three stubbies, it was more like twenty standard drinks before passing out or falling asleep – this cycle repeated over and over again for years.
I’ve never been in a position where I could legally drive home.
My future is looking bright. I am planning on a career change. No more transport.
I plan to get a position in service and I’m already lining things up with the Queensland RSL.
I’m hoping to help others with my own life experience. Extensive travelling gave me a good grounding. I want to give back to those who are suffering.
I predominantly thought alcohol was my problem. And that I drank alcohol as a means of medicating anxiety or depression. And that once I stopped drinking, my problems would dissipate.
If anything, I’m learning that without alcohol, my anxiety got worse before it got better.
However, I’ve had such wonderful support. The staff at Hader Clinic Queensland have been amazing.
I’d love to see how people change as they continue their journey of clean living.
I’m continually learning about myself, and how I can support my spiritual growth -not to mention, being able to support others.
I cannot thank the Hader Clinic Queensland enough for helping me on the road to recovery!
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