I have been encouraged to share my experience of addiction and recovery in the hope that my story may help someone realise that recovery from even the most chronic of addictions is possible. This is part one of a three-part blog series hopefully describing my journey.
I enrolled in the Addiction Solutions Victoria (ASV) rehab at home program in July 2020. I was really struggling with in my life due to the Corona Virus; I had lost my job; lockdowns were killing me and I was isolated from all my supports while my partner was relapsing on heroin. My life was a mess. I was drowning in my addictions. I needed help and I needed it fast!
I had been trying under completely my own steam for the last few years to stop using ice and smoking dope. Up until this point, my best efforts were in vain, I hadn’t been able to stop using successfully, let alone stay stopped. Several years ago, I had seen an AOD counselor. The process was a bit fluffy, unstructured, I struggled to relate. At the time the female counselor seemed even more out there than me. Don’t get me wrong, she was actually quite lovely and genuinely appeared to want to help, I just somehow, couldn’t seem to get my head into it. Despite the honest fact that she was as mad as a cut snake, she did manage to share some very good recovery tips with me. Now, a few years later, I wish I had listened as the things she warned me about that may happen, had happened. I was a mess.
Recently, my drug use had gone from a binge or two weekly to daily. It was costing me a fortune. I had no honest employment for several weeks and was basically selling my soul to feed my habits. My family had finally had enough. Earlier in February 2019, they had set a very clear boundary with me. Basically, they acknowledged that my life was my life to do with as I pleased. As distressed as they were at most of my lifestyle choices, they had realised long ago they only had limited influence in regard to motivating me to change my more anti-social behaviours. Now, their position was clear. If you want to change, get some professional help and seek treatment and try to get better, they were 100% behind me. If not, then I was on my own. Recently, I had been reflecting on how much I missed them and what they actually meant to me. I was actively considering swallowing my pride, picking up the phone, getting real and asking for some help.
The phone call, up until that time, was the hardest thing that I have ever done. I had decided to call my Dad. He was the most devastated and also the most cross with me. Despite all of his crankiness, despair and frustration, I secretly know that I was his favorite. Not to say he didn’t love my 2 brothers, I knew he did, so did they, it was just that the bond between my Dad and I was somehow still intact. The phone rang, he picked up, I couldn’t get the words out, I cried, after what seemed an eternity I said:” Daddy, I’m really unwell, I need some help, I want to come home.” He started crying too, he told me to pack a bag, check into the nearest motel, ask them to call him to cover costs and that he would catch the next plane to Melbourne. The next morning, I woke up in a strange motel room with my Mum and Dad sitting next to me. They told me they loved me dearly, not my behaviours, but me, and that they had a plan, they hoped I would listen and agree to it because they were confident that my circumstances were reversible. I agreed, fell back to sleep and woke up that night to the smell of Chinese food, my absolute favorite, filling the motel room with a delicious aroma. I was starving. I hopped out of bed, Mum insisted I have a quick shower, then it was time to eat. Over food, Mum and Dad explained the plan they had hatched with some professional support from a recovery coach. Turns out this guy was both professionally trained and appropriately qualified, he was also a man in long-term recovery from chronic addiction. He told me of his struggles with addiction, the real stuff, what it felt like, not so much what he had done, but how it felt to live tortured and dependent to a substance, the pain, guilt, shame and fear. The broken dreams, families, relationships, lost jobs. The betrayal of values, principles and morals. What had brought him to his knees and how he had found the courage to ask for help. Who he had turned to and how it had helped. He explained that action was required to achieve change, he spoke of recovery, what it looked like, how it felt and what it tasted like. He explained that I needed to get on with the woman in the mirror if I was to have a chance at living my best life, becoming the best me. He shared genuine hope that recovery from the sort of challenges I was experiencing was extremely possible. He told me that he could assist me to develop a realistic and achievable recovery plan which, when implemented, combined with relevant clinical supports would catapult me into the beginnings of my new life.
"The ASV rehab at home program provides affordable, evidence-based addiction treatment combined with appropriate & relevant clinical support to any person experiencing challenges related to the long term effects of ice (methamphetamine)." - Jase Bowman - CEO - ASV Long term effects of Ice rehabilitation program, Melbourne & Geelong 2020.