Sobriety, Relapse and Recovery - Hader Clinic Queensland
Ashley Addiction Recovery

Sobriety, Relapse and Recovery

Sober for over 11 years Ashley experienced a relapse that led her back to recovery. After completing a 28-day detox program, she shares her journey of overcoming addiction, the struggles she faced, and the lessons learned along the way.

My name is Ashley. Following a relapse of my alcohol addiction, I am now in recovery again. This is my story:

I moved to Australia and started a business on my own.

It was an industry I wasn’t familiar with, and I didn’t have any family or friends to lean on.

It was scary taking on this new world by myself.  But I persevered and gave it everything I had.

My parents kept warning me that I was taking on too much and overloading my plate.

I ignored it and kept going; kept giving to others and working long hours.

Alcoholism always ran in my family, it seemed hereditary and inevitable.

My addiction didn’t start until I had an incident where I was attacked by a dog I was fostering, and my arm was torn open.

Because my arm had experienced so much physical trauma and damage, it would shake constantly.

I would regularly attend business meetings and the shakiness would continue.

It got to the point where the only thing that stopped the shaking was a shot of vodka.

This was my turning point and I started to day drink.

The alcoholism quickly transitioned from being laid dormant in the backseat to the front seat and consequently started to drive my life.

This is when I went to rehab for the first time; 15 years ago.

I did have some relapses after this but ultimately as a result, I reached 11 and a half years sober.

During my time of sobriety, I wasn’t very involved in the program.

I stopped working with my sponsor, I got busy overfilling my plate once again; I got married, I had a daughter, volunteered in the community and at my daughter’s school and eventually began a startup business.

Once again, I found myself overwhelmed and overworked.

I was used to living in “overdrive” though and thought of myself as nearly invincible.

In early December I had a big girl’s night out planned and I wanted to have fun have some much needed and well-deserved fun… which included drinking.

I discussed the idea of “trying” drinking again with my husband, and because I had 11.5 years sober, we both thought that maybe I had “outgrown my alcoholism” and so we decided to give drinking a try.

It wasn’t long before my drinking escalated rapidly, and everything went quickly downhill – so much so that it scared me.

I began attending weekly meetings at AA, but felt like my attendance was a chore and it wasn’t enough to curb my need for alcohol.

I was being told to work the program and get a sponsor, but I had forgotten what working the program meant.

I kept relapsing over a period of a year. Every time, the relapse was longer and stronger, and my periods of sobriety shrank.

I was drinking alcohol without reason, lying, and trying to hide my addiction from everyone around me.

All the drinking did was take away my life force energy, I would be bedridden.

I would sleep a lot and my depression accelerated.

It was impacting my ability to be a mum and I couldn’t give 100%. I knew this was the opposite of who I am; someone who is outgoing, exuberant and embraces life.

The alcoholism changed me. My body was shutting down and I wasn’t taking care of myself.

It wasn’t until one day when I went to give my daughter a hug and she put her hands up to stop me.

She was angry with me and gave me a look of such disappointment that it was like a dagger to my heart.

I knew then that it was time for me to raise the white flag and go back to rehab.

When I walked through the doors of Hader Clinic Queensland for the 28-day detox program, I was angry; at myself, my husband, my daughter and I was mostly angry at alcohol and for being an alcoholic.

Within 2 days of the program, I realised the opportunity I had been given, with the biggest gift being time to work on myself – something I hadn’t prioritised for a long time.

Hader Clinic Queensland taught me to recognise my pattern of addiction.

It was Mark, a support worker at Hader Clinic Queensland, who helped me realise that I drank for a release and an escape because I don’t ever allow that for myself in any other way.

During my time in the program, I found myself again.

I started loving the program again and understood the need for my own personal development in sobriety.

I learnt that I needed to maintain the balance of giving to others and receiving for myself.

When I finished the program, I gave myself 6 weeks to focus on myself at home.

I have now started a new career becoming a certified menopause specialist coach, empowering other women during times of peri and post menopause.

This fulfils my desire to help others and contribute, but also allows me to take time for myself.

I am in the most perfect place where I can re-create a life of balance and still honour all aspects of myself.

If I hadn’t of returned to rehab and pressed the reset button on my life, I would have found myself falling into the same exact pattern.

I know that if I go down that path again; I would lose everything, including my own life.

I am still in the beginning of working out what recovery means to me now.

But I do know that during this next chapter of my life, I will never again let myself step away from the program, the key is to stay involved.

No matter how much time goes by, the disease does not go away.

There is no magic pill to overcome addiction.

My advice to others considering rehab and Hader Clinic Queensland is to love yourself enough to give yourself to the program.

I promise you that you are in the best of hands.

If you allow yourself to trust the staff and the process, you will be amazed at the person you (really) are without the smokescreen of alcohol or drugs!

You are worthy of a remarkable life!

It is not always easy and it does take a lot of hard work and self-honesty, but I promise you that if you commit yourself, you will have an extraordinary life!

Don’t allow alcohol to take that away from you… because it will.

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