Peter’s Ice Addiction Recovery
I am a former army officer who served three tours of Afghanistan, Rwanda and Somalia at the time of the Kibeho massacre.
Two years have passed since I shared my addiction recovery story and I wanted to give an update and further insight into my recovery journey.
Anyone can change. I believe the trick is that we must want to change.
Veterans 360 found me at a time when my life was at rock bottom. I had left my wife and kids two years’ earlier and for most of that time I had no fixed address.
I was existing, couch surfing where I could with anyone that would let me.
Finally, I became desperate enough to accept an offer of a bed from my brother. Previously, I had felt too embarrassed to accept.
Following my time in residential rehab spending a further six months in the Hader Clinic Queensland Transition Housing Program also helped me greatly. I believe the extra time helped me in my recovery.
By the time I left rehab, I was feeling strong.
My thinking around addiction changed. The way I thought about myself changed. After not being present for the longest time I was beginning to look forward to the future.
I mentioned previously that my wife and I rekindled our marriage after she came to visit me in the transition house.
After a few visits, she asked me if I’d like to come home.
I would be lying if I said that this was an easy transition.
A lot of things change over two years.
I was very conscious about coming home and trying not to ‘change everything’ to suit me. Plus, unbeknownst to me, my daughter’s boyfriend had also moved into our home.
I didn’t get on well with him and at all and we clashed.
There were a few awful nights where I thought I might use again, but luckily with the support of NA here in Darwin, they were able to talk me off the ledge.
Initially, I felt like I had a lot to prove but slowly, with time, my family relationships have improved and become stronger.”
Another challenge I faced was switching careers after being medically discharged from the military. It was a challenge forging a new career path while maintaining my commitment to recovery.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was really hard as a lot of our identity is tied up in our careers.
After all, I had spent most of my adult life in the military and knew nothing else.
I am luckier than most in that I receive an army pension, so I was able to take my time in deciding what I wanted to do.
Initially, I had a photography business that I started when I was medically discharged from the army, which was doing alright, however I was still using.
A fresh start was in order.
Now, I’m working with Mission Australia as a therapeutic support worker.
At first, I was hesitant about this role as I didn’t think I was strong enough. However, as I’ve recovered, I have gained the urge to help others, to “give back”, if you like.
I also enrolled into a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs through Charles Darwin University to support my role. I feel rewarded by the job, it is giving back and I believe that I am helping.
Life these days is about juggling work, study, CrossFit, golf and time with my family. Keeping fit is important to me. I’ve even participated in some CrossFit Masters competitions.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days where my head will take me to the place of using.
Ups and downs are part of life.
They don’t disappear because you’re clean, you just have to manage life in a different (and better!) way than using drugs.
Recovery and abstinence are possible. As time goes by you get stronger and stronger.
It’s important to understand your triggers and understand that you cannot do it alone.
It’s important to ask for help, especially if you’re a man because often we try and tough it out alone. Don’t.
This is where rehab and organisations like Narcotics Anonymous help immensely. When something goes wrong, as I mentioned, my head can still take me there and I think that I could use.
This is why it’s important to remember where you’ve come from.
If I use, I will not be able to control it and I know exactly where I will end up.
You need to have a holistic approach to recovery. My time in the army meant that fitness had to be a part of my recovery and it has helped me greatly.
Remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol means everything to me.
I still have some issues from my time in the army that I’m dealing with through the help of the DVA and counselling. Although I have some bad days with these issues, they’d be considerably worse if I was still using.
Rehab and recovery have been hard work but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I’m glad I have the opportunity in my role to help others who are suffering too.
I’m grateful for every day and look forward to the future.
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