Paul’s Addiction Recovery
After starting drugs at twelve and alcohol at thirteen, Paul started a journey of drug & alcohol abuse that would change his life. After completing drug and alcohol addiction treatment, Paul shares his story.
Hi my name is Paul and I now live in Western Australia. I’m 31 and in my first year of study doing a Bachelor of Christian Theology. I also work casually as a support worker for a rehab here.
I’m sharing my story to give those who are struggling with addiction some hope and reassurance that sometimes the journey to success is not linear.
My substances of abuse were alcohol and meth, especially at any time I needed to stay awake. However, alcohol was my favourite as it took all of my inhibitions away, and warmed me up to use Meth.
The journey to addiction started insidiously. I started experimenting with weed when I was twelve. That was all fun and games until I was introduced to alcohol at thirteen.
I LOVED alcohol right from the get go. I loved what it did for me, I loved the effect – it took away my cares, my worries, and made me feel invincible.
I would drink every single weekend. However, I drank differently to my peers. I wanted more. There seemed to be no “off switch”. I would be thinking about, and craving the next weekend’s drinks. As soon as I stopped, I’d be thinking about drinking again. I was fourteen.
My teenage years were essentially divided into two separate lives – there was the sportsman who was a keen footy player and the captain of the team. Then there was the life of drinking heavily on the weekend.
When I finished high school, my drinking increased. I played one more season of footy and then I gave it away and became a bartender.
I let go of all of my sporting fitness. At that stage I didn’t have a plan to go to university. I just wanted to have fun.
Working in a bar, my sleep patterns began to change. I’d be up at night drinking and then sleeping for the majority of the day.
This is when I started using cocaine and dexies to stay awake.
When I was twenty one, I got a job in the mines. That’s when I tried meth. I thought it was a party drug. I was pretty much hooked from my first time using it. Because I was working in the mines, it was easy, I could afford it.
I could also work my way around the testing system. I could use for four days, then stop for three and it would be out of my system. I did this for the eight years I worked in the mines.
A relationship with a girl got me tapered off meth. However, the drinking took over, as well as doing party drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and so on. Drinking was always a problem and got in the way of everything.
I was able to hide it from her over the two years that we were together. However, I knew the relationship wasn’t going to work out as I was unfaithful.
After the break up, I fell into a pit of despair. At 23, that’s when I got right back on it.
The experts talk about it being progressive and that’s been my experience.
I would get a new job or friendship group to dry out and start fresh. I kept using in secret. I figured that “if nobody knew, it wasn’t happening”.
In 2017, at twenty eight, I lost everything. I was unemployed, friendless, stuck with my parents and my behaviour was odd and erratic. My parents organised for me to go the Hader Clinic Queensland.
I had no other option. I knew that I had a problem.
It was surreal walking down those stairs into rehab. I thought that everyone was waiting there for me – I was in psychosis.
I was shy, timid and really broken. I couldn’t talk to anyone. There seemed to be two types of people in rehab – the expressive, outgoing, jovial sort and then there were shy, timid recluses like myself.
Fifteen days in, I had started to really detox and realised that thirty days would not be long enough. I extended my time, because I knew that if I went back to Perth, that I was just going to pick up.
I extended my stay to ninety days. It was exactly what I needed. I was still smoking cigarettes though. I have since quit those as well.
I did transition and didn’t want to go back home. I started a relationship with a girl in the transition house. I knew it was wrong, but I kept it a secret. This went against the rehab’s rules – even though I was doing everything else right.
Our relationship did not work out and my recovery went out the door emotionally and physically at five to six months’ clean. I was trying to hide my secret relationship and couldn’t talk honestly to anyone. I relapsed four days before I left Transition. I used for one weekend, then stopped.
Having been introduced to the 12 Step Program by the Hader Clinic Queensland I stayed close to those groups. I had my own place by then. I obviously got booted out of the transition house. My relationship started again. I relapsed again at 44 days. Then I had to come back to Perth. I was broken again. I didn’t want to use, but I felt like I’d ripped a scab off and reopened the wound.
I returned to Perth. I tried to stay clean on the 12 Step program. I was living with my Mum. Two months in I met a man at a meeting who suggested that I go back into rehab. However, I picked up again at 50 days’ clean.
I’d always run into the same emotional pain, so I’d pick, so I knew in December 2018, I had to go back into rehab – I had to attend locally. This rehab was a bit different, there was no smoking plus there was a support system in place where you picked up on each other’s behaviour. It was hardcore. I lasted thirteen weeks.
I had a family issue pop up, then I left the rehab and subsequently relapsed.
By March 2019, I was the worst that I had ever been. I was hanging out with older using mates. I didn’t have any self care routine. I injured myself badly as a result of the using.
At this stage I had this belief in a Higher Power, so I asked God, “what do I need to do?”
Something told me to go back to rehab. I went back to the rehab that I had just left on the 2nd May, 2019. I stayed there for a year.
Eight months into rehab I started reading the Bible. It struck a chord. I started to read it every day.
I got to step seven in the 12 Step program and realised that I needed a “Higher Power”. And that is how I found God. I was baptised in 2020 and started studying a Diploma of Theology.
Now I have been clean for two years and a month. Life is completely and unimaginably different.
Now I am studying for my degree in Christian Theology. I’m obviously still working out life as I go, but I know I have God on my side.
If I had anything to share, it would be “don’t doubt yourself!”, and “have faith that there is something better, different in life. You can live a good life free from addiction.”
Hopefully my story can help you if you are struggling with relapse. The Hader Clinic Queensland was my first real step in the journey towards recovery, where I learned about the 12 Step program. However, it wasn’t quite the end of the story and that’s OK. Keep at it and believe there is a better life waiting for you if you work your program and stay clean.
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