Simone’s addiction recovery story

Once Simone gave birth to her daughter, her fantasy bubble of perfect motherhood quickly burst and soon the pressures of parenthood, isolation and loneliness saw her turn to ice in an attempt to cope. This is her inspiring addiction recovery story.

Hi, I’m Simone.

I grew up in a close-knit family in the small coastal town near Mackay. It’s the type of place where you know everyone.

I had a wonderful upbringing and have always been close to my parents, brother and sister. 

Growing up, I was a good student too, always bubbly, happy and bright. I love people and being around others – you could say that I’m the extroverted type that lights up the room when they enter it.

I met my ex-husband, at 18 and he introduced me to drugs.

For several years, I used party drugs sporadically – a bit of ecstasy here and there and the odd point or two of speed.  Naturally, I didn’t think anything of it.

After school, I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do, but landed a highly paid job with a mining company and became engaged. We married, bought a house and I fell pregnant.

At this time, I felt I was living my ideal fantasy – the house with the white picket fence, the handsome husband, and now a beautiful baby to look forward to.

My ex started using ice when I was pregnant.

Once I gave birth to our daughter, the fantasy bubble of perfect motherhood with a perfectly well-behaved baby well and truly burst.

I was having trouble coping with the demands of a baby, feeling isolated and feeling lonely.

I turned to using ice with my ex. husband as a means to cope. Early on, I made strict “rules” around my usage – it was only occasionally and on weekends.

However, this use increased when I felt like I couldn’t cope as drugs made me feel motivated to get up and get going.

Drugs were causing my world to fall apart – my ex husband started being unfaithful, and my marriage broke down.

I was absolutely beside myself when we split up – I didn’t know how to cope and the thought of being alone with nobody to “complete” me was horrifying.

This inability to cope would lead to four suicide attempts over the next few years.

Eventually I was hospitalised and diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

After I left hospital, I stopped using drugs for a while as I was feeling much better about life and able to cope.

Then a chance meeting with an old friend, who also used, started the drug taking cycle up again. 

The loss of my marriage was hitting me hard, working in a job I didn’t enjoy was taking its toll as well as the responsibilities of paying a mortgage and raising a child.

I simply did not know how to “adult”, for want of a better expression.

I was depressed, and the best way to numb the anxiety and all the painful feelings was to use ice.

Eventually, I failed a drug test at work. I had to undergo some counselling, which helped keep me clean for a while.

By that stage, I had met a new partner.

A short time after we met, he started using drugs and I started to use again with him.

The effects of ice made him abusive – mainly emotionally and mentally, then physically. I got the courts involved and domestic violence orders were put in place.

At work, things were going from bad to worse.

Two years after my initial drug test failure, I stumbled again. This time my employers weren’t so sympathetic – I lost my job. At the time, I had wanted to resign and wish that I could have done it on my terms.

After my termination, I went a bit haywire on partying and ice – all the while my state of mind was becoming more fragile.

I decided to upend my life and move to Townsville.

In hindsight, this was the worst thing I could have done as I moved from the only real support that I had – my family.

My family were aware of my use, but I always used to deny it and reassured them that I was fine.

I wasn’t.

I was involved with ATOD and managed to stay clean for a while.

Then my ex-husband had my daughter for a weekend and didn’t return her.

I was beside myself and suicidal. Eventually after a two-month court battle I had her back.   

She was my sole reason for living and I tried to pick my life up for her.

I wanted desperately to be happy and rid of the continual anxiety and depression I was feeling.

In Townsville, I was trying desperately to make connections, to make friends but all the “friends” I ever made were users, or even worse, dealers.

My partner used to tell me how naïve I was, how trusting I was, and he was right. I was so desperate to have human connection that I was oblivious to the warning signs.

My life was starting to reach a crisis point.

I was so broken, so numb and desperate to end it all.

I stood on a cliff, looking out at the stars, willing my deceased grandmother to “give me a sign”. I saw what I thought looked like a shooting star.

“Perhaps this is her telling me to stay for my daughter,” I thought.

However, I was a complete mess – I didn’t know how to solve the hole I found myself in. 

After my home was raided just before Christmas and I took the rap for possession of an ice pipe that wasn’t even mine, I came to a decision to break things off with my partner.

By then I was suicidal again, I hated using, I was angry with myself, I had lost myself and I had lost my spark.

At Christmas time I visited my family.

They were shocked to see how far I had fallen.

My sister asked, “how can we help?”. They were all sitting around crying, everyone except for me. I was simply too broken to care.

I had exhausted every avenue to me except “getting help” and my family found The Hader Clinic Queensland. 

They chose The Hader Clinic Queensland because of their experience with dual diagnosis – that is, addiction is often accompanied by other mental health issues like depression and anxiety (that was me!), as well as having the Family Program.

My ex-husband took my daughter and when I asked him if he would let me see her during rehab, he surprised me by saying “of course”.

He was living with his parents and I knew that everything would be OK.  

When I knew that I was going to rehab, I became a nervous, agitated wreck.

I was able to withdraw from drugs a few days prior to going in. I must have been anxious as I was prescribed Valium and think I slept for a week.

By the second week though, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle the program.

I spent a lot of time working with the psychologist.

I spent a lot of time working on shame, grief and guilt making peace with my past.

I was also taught to learn to “sit” with my emotions rather than running away or using drugs. It was a revelation to me that I could actually do it.

During my time in rehab, I started feeling more like my old self – the perennially bubbly, cheerful Simone who is always up for a chat and who loves to meet, and be with people.

I had times when I got sick of rehab and wanted to leave, but inevitably all of the girls I met in there enticed me to stay.

As I mentioned, I love connecting with people and The Hader Clinic Queensland taught me that this is an integral part of what makes me who I am.

I especially appreciated the connections I made with the support workers who, having been through addiction, understood what I was going through.

I’ve also made a few good connections in the therapeutic community and have a sponsor.

My plans are to move to Rockhampton, where my ex-husband lives, get a job, and co parent our daughter.

However, what I have learned from the Hader Clinic is that I need to put my recovery front and centre if I am to succeed.

The first thing I did was visit the town and make sure there’s a therapeutic community that can support me and keep me focused on my recovery.

I didn’t rush back home either.

I chose to undertake the three-month transitional housing program so that I could really honour myself and my recovery. I am so glad that I did because it’s improved my self-confidence and belief a million times over.

My other big learning is that you truly have to want and believe in recovery.

For me it was a choice between suicide, running from my problems or doing the hard work that it takes to get better.

I’ve seen many people who are half hearted about rehab – and I see them relapse.

Living an addict lifestyle is a special kind of hell I don’t wish to return to.

It hasn’t been a walk in the park but it’s been worth it.

I am excited about the future.

When I was in rehab, counselling showed me how much I like to connect with other people – I would love to be able to support and help people with drug and alcohol addiction – the support workers at the Hader Clinic made all the difference to me due to their lived experience.

I’m looking at enrolling into a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs/Mental Health so that I can help others.

Today, I am the most content and happy I have been since I had my daughter all those years ago.

The bonds I have with my family are stronger than ever and my ex-husband and his family now know everything and are supporting me in recovery as well.

I’m looking forward to the rest of my life with my daughter – happy, healthy and drug free!

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