Nick’s Alcohol Recovery Story
Nick has been sober for 12 months today, after receiving residential addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. This is his story of recovery from alcohol addiction.
I grew up in a small country town in Victoria. I had a happy childhood. My family has always been close, and an amazing support system for me. Their unconditional love saved me in a lot of ways.
I always felt different. I was really energetic and unable to concentrate on anything. This caused a lot of trouble for me at school and at home. I was disruptive in class and my mum struggled to control me at home. When I was 10 years old, they diagnosed me with ADHD, and put me on medication. It helped me to calm down and focus.
When I started high school, I was one of the popular kids and found it very easy to make friends. I put on a mask by being funny and the class clown. I was also a bit of a bully which is not something I’m proud of at all. Underneath all of this was a crippling feeling of not being comfortable with myself and never feeling good enough.
I didn’t want people to see how afraid I was on the inside. The doctor advised me to take my medication in the morning and at lunchtime. I didn’t know of anyone else at my school on medication and I felt embarrassed about being different, so I wouldn’t take the medication at lunchtime. This resulted in my ADHD symptoms returning. I was impulsive, restless, and discontent.
All of my friends started drinking well before me. They drank beer, and I didn’t like the taste of it. I had my first drink around the age of 15. It gave me the confidence that I felt I was lacking. Alcohol wasn’t a problem for me straight away. I could take it or leave it.
When I finished school, I moved to Melbourne, and was living with a couple of mates who were also big drinkers, but not as heavy as me, they could control it though.
I secured a good job on the oil rigs, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off and finally 1 week on 1 week off, because I couldn’t drink when I was away on the oil rigs. I felt like I had a handle on it.
I wasn’t drinking daily or homeless. These were the things I associated with being an alcoholic. I didn’t feel like it was a problem and drinking made my ADHD symptoms better, so I could justify it. I can see now that I was self-medicating.
I had a high tolerance for alcohol. For most of my 20s, I was a binge drinker. The cycle of addiction started to cause problems in my life in my late 20s. I could see how it was negatively affecting my relationships.
Alcohol took priority, and I always lost interest in the relationship I was in. Things would be good for a while, but there was always this feeling of self-doubt, self-hate, and fear bubbling under the surface. Ultimately, my relationships would end, which led to more drinking. I was plagued with waves of depression.
One night I was so heavily intoxicated that I called my mum while I was vandalising cars by smashing their windows with my fist, my mum drove to Melbourne at 3am and stayed at my brother’s house. They lured me over there in the morning, without sleeping and I continued to drink.
My mum had been trying to help me for a while as I had already had a couple of suicide attempts (which were cries for help). She was worried about me and was trying to confront me about my drinking problem. I became abusive towards my mum and my brothers. They had organised for the police to come and when they arrived, I had an altercation with them. The police arrested me and took me to hospital.
They put me on an involuntary hold for over a week and then released me back into my family’s care. I stayed at my family’s home in the country. I stopped drinking for a few weeks, but I was unable to remain sober. It troubled me that I couldn’t stop drinking even though my family desperately wanted me to.
It made me feel like such an awful person. I couldn’t understand in the face of all the harm I had caused my family; why couldn’t I just stop drinking? I felt like a complete failure and the shame, guilt, and self-loathing were worse than ever before.
In the next few years, I had multiple near-death experiences driving cars and was charged with drink driving multiple times. The cycle of addiction was affecting every area of my life.
Drinking led me to use party drugs like ecstasy, speed, and cocaine but I was never addicted. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it would. Even with the serious consequences I was facing, I still couldn’t accept the fact that drinking could be the cause of all of this. I felt my mental health was more to blame.
I was part of a football club and drinking and partying were a huge part of the culture. I felt like everyone else was doing it, so why couldn’t I? I was completely unaware that alcohol affected me differently.
I met the mother of my children when I was 32 years old. Within 5 months we were pregnant with our first child. I was the happiest I had been in a long time; we owned a couple houses and things were great. My drinking continued but didn’t disturb me as much.
So not too long after our first child we were pregnant again, I was over the moon, I had a beautiful family of 4. We were very happy, I had two adorable boys and a very caring and loving partner. Life was good.
Soon after I fell back into a deep depression and it all started to unwind and things turned bad, my drinking had taken over. I couldn’t be the loving partner or father.
The same feelings as other relationships had crept in, I hadn’t lost interest, I still loved my ex-partner, but I couldn’t show it or be a father because of my drinking.
It was the worst feeling of my life as I had everything, but I just couldn’t see it or do the right thing.
At this stage, I stopped trying to fight my drinking. I had come to terms with it. No matter what, drinking came first. I felt if people didn’t accept this about me; I was better off without them in my life.
We had moved into our other property due to me losing my job and having to sell one of the houses. My disease had progressed, and I was drinking daily at this stage. I had no patience with my kids, and I had no energy unless I had a few drinks under my belt.
I just couldn’t handle the partner and father I was. It filled me with shame, and I truly wanted to just end it all. There were more suicide attempts. I ended up in a private mental hospital multiple times because of the attempts to take my own life. I decided it would be better for everyone if I just left. My eldest was only 3 years old when I left.
During my stay at the private mental hospital, they gave me ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) where they put you to sleep and put an electric current through your brain, this affects the brain’s activity and aims to relieve severe depressive and psychotic symptoms. My family was against it, but I wanted to try anything to stop the emotional pain. Looking back, all I had to do was stop drinking.
Denial is a big part of addiction. I still couldn’t admit that the drinking was the problem. The alcohol addiction had really isolated me from everyone I loved; I put my children and ex-partner through so much pain I couldn’t imagine them wanting anything to do with me.
This all continued to progress until I found myself completely alone. I had no one to talk to and nothing but the alcohol. I made another attempt to end my life. This time I woke up 3 days later, after being on life support. My family surrounded me. The way they looked at me was unforgettable. The nurse told me after they left that the doctors didn’t know if I was going to make it for a couple of days.
When my family left, I cried because I really didn’t want to be alive. I couldn’t bear the thought of living this way any longer. I was in the hospital for 5 or 6 nights. While I was there, my family had researched alcohol addiction treatment options for me and gave me contact information for rehab at Hader Clinic in Queensland. We called them and signed up for the 90-day program. Before my stay at Hader Clinic Queensland, I had gone through alcohol detox at home. My family had me under round-the-clock supervision.
When I arrived at Hader Clinic Queensland, the alcohol addiction and depression had beaten me into submission, and I was finally willing to give anything a go. My brother had travelled to Queensland with me, and when he left, the reality of it all sunk in. I was terrified and felt so alone.
The first month was extremely difficult because as the fog slowly lifted, the destruction drinking had caused in my life became the only thing I could think about. The cycle of addiction had isolated me from everyone that loved me. I had lost my children, my job, and my house. There was nothing left, it was very sad, lonely, and scary.
About halfway through the 90-day program, it was like a recovery switch had been turned on. The other recovering addicts and the support workers helped me so much. I could talk about what I had been through without fear of judgment. I felt the support workers and my peers truly wanted the best for me and to see me get well.
It has been nearly 12 months since I completed the alcohol addiction treatment in May 2021. I have moved in with my family in Victoria. Happiness is having my family and close friend’s love and support. Seeing them all the time helps me to stay the positive and happy person I am today. It’s a long process but it’s worth it.
Being involved in the football club again has helped me a lot, yes they drink but they drink responsibly, something I couldn’t do in the past. The atmosphere and culture around the club is amazing for not only football but also life skills, responsibilities, and caring nature.
AA meetings both online and face to face are a big part of my life now and will continue to be.
I am so grateful to be alive and to have my children back in my life. To be the father I always wanted to be. Today I am proud to be myself and I know that by living sober, I am an excellent role model for my boys. Recovery will be my primary focus for the rest of my life because everything good in my life starts from that. From being a good son, a good brother, a good father, and a good mate. I am finally comfortable in who I am.
I hope my story can help people suffering from alcohol addiction. Recovery is amazing and there is so much happiness in life.
Hader Clinic Queensland saved my life. The tools they taught me there still work in my life today. I am finally happy and free.
Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.
Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation
We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.