Category Archives: Success Stories

Good Hope Story

This is very likely one of the hardest stories I have ever given.

I will take you back to the age of thirteen. This is where my addiction started even though it was not with my substance of choice.

At this age I was drinking and smoking pot, I can clearly remember being absolutely intoxicated and wondering how I was going to get through the front door and face my mother.
For around about one year I remember sneaking through windows, blatantly lying and lashing out to cover my tracks as best as I could.

I was fooling no-one and after a period of time I just stopped coming home.

By the age of fourteen I had found my drug of choice and instead of having to cover intoxication I was now trying to hide track mark from needles all over my arms. By this stage I was in complete denial of anything wrong, myself, and thought it was everyone else who had a problem.

Life experiences and family situations took me down an extremely difficult road for a number of years. I had lost all contact with family – it was me only in a world I wanted to hide from.

This behaviour of denial completely shut off from everyone else continued to the age of 22 years when I gave birth to my son. I remember thinking that he was going to be my answer to everything – my addiction my loneliness. Sadly within a couple of months I had realised this was not the case and was back using again. After a while I had lost all self-worth and dignity and no longer cared about the person everyone else thought they could see or what they were saying. By this stage I now had two children and I was a drug dependant mother and had lost my will in life. I was in complete and utter denial of my addiction. I remember as clear as if it was yesterday looking at myself in the mirror and repeating I could stop tomorrow but I just don’t want to.

Truth is that denial kept me safe, it kept me from feeling abandonment, abuse, life and emotions. At the age of 28 after my second child I was hospitalised for organ failure. I had a hospital room full of doctors. I was 37kilos, an absolute mess and I was being told if I did not stop using heroin I would not live to see the end of the year.

Even after hearing that it was not nearly enough to stop me. So at this stage I have two kids a substance abuse problem and my body is giving away on me. When I think of denial it really is to me a make or break thing. I remember sitting in my bathroom with my two children asleep on the couch. My body was that frail and broken and destroyed, I could not find a vein to inject through.

That night I sat in the bathroom for three hours and it wasn’t until I had blood running all over me that I looked at myself in the mirror and I had no idea who the person staring back at me was. It had taken nearly 29 years of which nearly 17 years being substance abuse that I finally asked myself the question, “What am I doing to myself?” “This is not what I want for me or my kids who am I?”

I used to hide stuff in my mother’s room as she would check my room but not think to look in her room for it. I also had stuff in the car under the carpet. I had the carpet cut so I could get to it but it was not obvious to others that was the reason for the cut.

I would sit on the bath and inject while the shower was going to hide the fact of what I was doing.
A lot of the drugs I kept on myself so she could not find them.

When I told my mother she cried and she begged me to stop and she would do anything for me to stop. She was so broken hearted I went to other rehabs to make her happy, but I was still in denial.

I just lied to my mother and family about my problem for as long as I could, then just didn’t care what they thought for years. No matter what tears they cried – however eventually I changed and decided I wanted to get better myself and now have an open and real relationship with my family. My life is now like the picture I once dreamed of.

I graduated from other rehabs but it was done for my mother not me. Finally I decided I needed to get help for me and my children and found Fresh Hope. After having two goes at rehab with Fresh Hope I have finally graduated and recently got married and have this week done a test that shows that I am pregnant.

I am sooooooo happy and loving life.

WHOS Sunshine Coast Client reflection

WHOS Sunshine Coast client reflection

I was born in Gladstone Qld on the 23/10/1979.  My mother and father separated when I was one year of age. Mum found a new boyfriend who was her partner til I was the age of five and he was very abusive.  When they broke up my mother and I moved to Brisbane with my brother and three sisters.  I lived in Brisbane with my mother until I was sixteen, growing up was very hard as Mum was an alcoholic, this made me want to avoid home as much as possible which unfortunately led me to associate with the wrong crowds of people.

So from the age of 11, I found myself getting drunk a lot and stoned to fit in, which started causing me various troubles with the police and the law.  Due to this I began not caring about school as well as having disrespect for authority and my guardians.  My mother became sick of me and my behaviour so she said to me “There is no need for you to go to school and you are too hard for me to handle, so you can go and live with your father.”

So I went and lived with my father still having disrespect for authority, I found I couldn’t heed his advice and guidance.  I continued to get stoned and started work straight away.  I did this for approximately the next four years.  I then met a girl and moved out with her and it was the best five years of my life.  Although I had still been arrested a few times and continued heavily smoking marijuana and drinking and for some deluded reason I thought I was getting better as things seemed to be going well as I had a happy home.

Then my job was put on hold as there was no cash flow coming into their business.  Not knowing what to do I started to sell marijuana, business was slow and not supporting my needs, so I started selling speed which was a big mistake as it quickly turned my life to hell as I became heavily addicted.  Approximately one month later I found I was using more than I was selling and using needles.

When my girlfriend found out I was using needles she promptly kicked me out of our home. Feeling confused and not knowing what I was doing I grabbed my drugs and few possessions and ran.  I then had to live on the streets for approximately two years.  With the circumstances and distressed feelings my addiction grew to levels way out of my control.  I met a girl on the streets and got her pregnant so we both moved back to Brisbane in order to clean up our lives and do what was right for our baby we were going to have.  Also at this time I was on the run from the law as I had broken my probation and parole by not reporting as I was living on the street and did not care as I thought the world had given up on me.

My son was born and was approximately two months old when the police caught up with me and thus I was imprisoned for three months.  Being in jail broke my spirits even more.  When I was released I moved back in with my girlfriend and son.  Through determination I managed to stay clean for approximately three months, our relationship had changed and become worse thus causing more problems in my life, which made me seek my feel good and led to another addiction.

My girlfriend and I split up; I moved away and continued my addiction for close to a year which well and truly destroyed my life again.  Finally realising my addiction and life had become unmanageable I sought help from a rehab facility, WHOS Najara on the Sunshine Coast.  This has been the best move of my life as I am now 120 days clean.

This facility has re-educated and taught me how to live a life on life’s terms without alcohol and other drugs.

The program here helps with my psychological, physical and mental attitude towards life and work.  In the four months I have learned so much and progressed well through the program and now are in the Commitment stage (re-entry stage) where for one month we work hard and give back to WHOS Najara community which has helped me so much.  I am certain that with one more chance at life I can and will be a productive and good member of society as well as a great and guiding father to my beautiful son.

WHOS New Beginnings Client Story

WHOS New Beginnings Client Story

My life before I got to New Beginnings was very depressing. I was out of control in so many ways. I had recently moved back from Mt Isa and was in a bad state. I experienced a lot of drama there and was in a domestic violence relationship. I tried to kill myself twice. First I stabbed myself in the stomach 3 times and a month later swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. I honestly thought that I would never make it anywhere in life and felt it impossible to try. I did one rehab when I first got back, it was a 28 day program.

I still felt very messy and used after 95 days, for the next few months I couldn’t string up more than 2 months drug free, I would always end up drinking or drugging.

Although I was attending NA and AA meetings it just didn’t seem to work for me then. What I found there was happy people living drug free and people who had hope and were achieving their dreams. I really wanted that but for some reason it didn’t work for me back then.

A NA member suggested that I go to rehab and suggested I try WHOS New Beginnings. By that stage I was desperate; I wanted to kill myself because I found life too hard. I felt hopeless and pathetic because I couldn’t seem to get recovery.

I admitted myself into detox with the intention of giving this recovery everything I had. My journey through New Beginnings began on the 13th December 2010. I had never heard of a Therapeutic Community before and was amazed to observe how things were done here.

I was constantly challenged on my behaviour and received support around what would benefit me in those areas. This was a turning point for me as I was unaware of the impact my behaviour had on others and myself. They were also big factors in why I would normally drink and use.

I’ve had many ups and downs here, seen a lot of people come and go, but I’ve done my best to work through tough times and seek support from my peers and staff. I held onto my chair no matter what. I have now learned how to get through tough times, seek support and work a program of recovery.

Things today are amazing. I have hopes and dreams, I’m setting goals for my future and I don’t feel like killing myself. I applied for study and was accepted – I start on Monday (18 July 2011).

I can’t believe how far I’ve come and I feel I deserve it because I’ve put the action in. This would not have been possible if I didn’t come to WHOS New Beginnings and I would most likely be dead. I am so grateful to this program and the people who have helped me along the way.

I am at the WHOS Exit Stage House now; I have 4 months until I move into my own place and will be continuing with study and my recovery…

WHOS MTAR Client Story

WHOS MTAR Client Story

Prior to coming to WHOS MTAR my life was unmanageable to the extent where even going to the chemist to pick up my methadone was a struggle. I was stuck in a never ending cycle of using drugs, depression and trying to stay drug free but always failing and perpetuating the cycle.

With the help of my MERIT worker I decided to call WHOS MTAR. I had come to MTAR previously in 2007 and knew that there was an answer to my despair. I knew that if I could take enough self responsibility to get here via a detox and hand my destructive wilfulness over I could break this cycle.

My first impressions of MTAR were confronting for me, because of being here before I knew what was expected of me but also in addict-style thinking wanted things straight away and was looking for the easy road. Once I slowed down and realised I needed to follow a process, stay and participate, things got easier. Once I sat and listened the groups were interesting and I learnt new ways I can incorporate into my day to day life.

I found the harm minimisation groups were very insightful and realised how dangerous my active addiction was. Once handing myself over to the program I found that I’ve grown with my fellow peers and they have became a great support as I am also able to be there for them.

The staff at MTAR are always here to support me wherever necessary, they have been really supportive through my detox as have my fellow peers. I have found the doctors and nursing staff easily accessible if I need any medical attention or medication.

Through the WHOS MTAR program I have learnt the importance of a strong foundation for recovery. The assignment groups have allowed me to see the importance of external support groups in my life and in the later stages on this program, were I hope to continue to build a solid foundation.

I reached my first goal of withdrawing from methadone and intend to move through to the WHOS Gateway aftercare program. There I hope to gain more independence, be of service to my community and establish supports to help me live drug free.

I know if I continue to involve myself in the WHOS program as well as Narcotics Anonymous, life and things can only go forward. I am grateful to this program; it has given me a start in life again and I have learnt vital skills needed to live a responsible and productive life.

WHOS Gunyah Client Story

WHOS Gunyah Client Story

I was surrounded by drugs from an early age. My father was addicted to drugs and there wasn’t many times I did not see him with a beer in hand or some other kinds of alcohol within arm’s reach. My mother worked hard to keep me and my two brothers sheltered from this behaviour, but looking back now it was clear to me that drugs were destined to become a big part of my life. I was twelve when I tried marijuana for the first time, and I loved it. For the next year I smoked it on and off but always kept it hidden from my father in fear of the repercussions if he was to find out because he could get violent and abusive at times, a hard man but a fair man.

Shortly after I turned thirteen, he passed away from cirrhosis of the liver due to his alcoholism. My mother worked seven days a week to support our small family but we always seemed to struggle. It was then that I stopped going to school and started smoking pot everyday and using amphetamines on the weekends. I grew up in a western Sydney suburb called Macquarie Fields which was predominantly housing commission flats and houses, so drugs were never hard to find.

By the age of 15 my drug use was out of control, I never saw it as a problem and didn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The next 6 years were a blur, I went through countless jobs, relationships and acquaintances, my health had deteriorated and my mental health wasn’t any better, it was starting to become apparent that I needed to stop taking drugs but instead of stopping using I started selling drugs. This action led me further down my path of destruction. I tried numerous times to stop taking drugs on my own, I tried holidays, moving areas, and changing my circle of friends but I always failed, each time getting further into addiction. I had started doing business with some heavy criminals, and even though I knew I was dealing with the wrong type of people I didn’t care because I still had my money and drugs coming in, I didn’t know then, but it was a life changing decision to be mixing with this crowd.

One night when I was at home with my family I received a phone call, there was a man on the other side of the phone who demanded that I come outside and give him all my cash and drugs or he and the people he was with would be coming in to take it from me. I refused and ended up with a gun pointed to my head and other weapons drawn on me to intimidate me into handing my things over. After an hour of this they left with nothing, I thought it was over and I was free but this was not the case. They had somehow got all of my immediate family’s phone numbers and began threatening them and myself with our lives if I did not give them the large sum of money they wanted. They made the next few weeks of our lives a terrible experience, I knew I had stuffed up and had to do something about it but still didn’t feel I was done with drugs.

It was then my stepfather informed me of a rehabilitation program called WHOS and explained to me what they had to offer. He said he could help me but in order for him to do that I must help myself first by checking myself into the WHOS therapeutic community. I was reluctant to do so thinking that I was better than any program and that I could do things for myself. But after everything I had put my family through in the past before this time I thought I owed it to them and myself to at least give it a try. Two weeks later I had completed a seven day detox and was on my way to WHOS.

When I first arrived, I did not want to be there, I wanted to leave and use, not thinking about how my life was before I came here. I decided to give it a month, that was three months ago and I now realise it was the best decision I could have ever made. My physical and mental health is the best it has ever been and my relationship with my family is healthy and strong, my paranoia is gone and I can now look people in the eye when I talk to them and have a laugh without the aid of drugs to calm my nerves in social situations, I am starting to enjoy life for what it is and have no intentions of returning to any part of my former life. I didn’t think I would make it this far in the program and never thought I could stop taking drugs, the WHOS program has showed me this new way of life and I am forever grateful for it.

RTOD Client Male 35 years old – 110 mg Methadone

RTOD Client Male 35 years old – 110 mg Methadone

Before I thought about coming to WHOS RTOD I had done about 12 detox programs and thought every time I could stay clean myself. It took a long time to realize this wasn’t so. I was drinking a lot everyday and I couldn’t get through a day without alcohol. I started using drugs again and ended up on methadone. I told the prescriber I wanted free drugs and he put me on the program. I was using other drugs on top of the methadone and still drinking a hell of a lot. I was hurting myself and my family and it destroyed every relationship I had. No one wants to be with a drunk or a drug addict. I lost everything I ever had.

Today I have been sober (alcohol free) and stable on methadone for about 3 months and it is great. I feel really good and I can now start to get on with life and get things set up for myself, although I get impatient.

I now can look to the future and see a life for myself with a partner and maybe a part time job or even just study. I now have plans for my future.  With the help of WHOS RTOD I am well on my way to achieving the things I want. I am sober and much more clear headed. I will need ongoing treatment through Drug and Alcohol counsellors and HIV support to get me to where I need to go but I am well and truly on the way to living a fulfilling life.

WHOS RTOD Client Female 35 years old – 130 mg Methadone

WHOS RTOD Client Female 35 years old – 130 mg Methadone

Life before WHOS RTOD was absolute hell for me. I have one sister who is alive and 2 brothers deceased. My father passed away last year and my mum is dying from cancer. My 2 daughters who are now 12 and 7 are with their uncle as I psychologically lost my life after I went under the Rapid Ultra Implant detox (Naltrexone) in 2007. It sent me crazy. I’ve been in an extremely violent relationship for 16 years and after the Naltrexone detox is when I began seeking and got addicted to Xanax.

Xanax addiction was my stairwell to hell.  It was the only drug that made me feel better and made me numb from consuming only a few, which then became more , then from that became handfuls, and then from that became a bottle of 50 tablets morning and night.  It is drug you build a tolerance to straight away. I was seeing one doctor under 3 names. I’d dress different and she wouldn’t realise it was me. I don’t know if it was because she was 85 years old but I got what I went for all the time.

From thereon I started doctor shopping and buying bottles off the street and ended up doing crime and pharmacies were the prime and only target. I was going absolute rampant doing armed robberies, whatever to get my pills and my cocaine. I never cared what my life was going to become or when DoCs became involved with my daughters.  I was soon arrested with a firearm and sent to jail. Life pressures got to such a boiling point I tried to commit suicide and I was scheduled. I have this year been sectioned 3 times for being suicidal.

This disease has done so much damage to me and my family. I’ve been so selfish and my dear family are always the ones who suffer. I just want to keep doing this program and understand it in a productive way so I can use the tools I am gaining here in my future and in my recovery.

My goals to work towards are getting my daughters back, never do crimes again, become successful in being a great supportive and loving mother and I will get recovery.

Hunter resident reflections

Hunter resident reflections

What it was like. At the age of 11 it was just natural to me that everyone used drugs, I thought nothing of it. I listened to everyone glorifying it so I wanted a bit of the action too. So one day I waited until my cousin went out, I broke in and stole the drugs from her house. Also, I always saw this funny white stuff in my dad’s room and wondered what it was. I did not have to wonder much longer as I had my first shot at 12 and never looked back.

I wanted my father to be happy, but sometimes he would turn into something like I had never seen before. He would just lose it and then my mum would pay for it. I could not watch it any more so I packed my little bag, jumped out the window and told myself I would never come back to this s***hole. I had plenty of drugs but nowhere to go.  I gave drugs to people so I could sleep on their floor until I met my new father and this is where I knew I would be safe, well, that’s what I thought. My new family taught me to steal and take drugs, including drugs I have never had before. The fact that I was young gave them the advantage of knowing that I could not go to jail but I soon ended up in a boy’s home.

My real father found out where I was and came down and played the nice guy until he got me home. This is where I copped one of the worst beatings I have ever had. So when he was finished I flew out the door straight back into the game again. I lived on the streets for a number of years and got ‘street smart’ but all I was doing was taking drugs, selling drugs and stealing. I was not the person I thought I was, sick and tired of not knowing what was going to happen next but I knew it was not going to be good.

What happened that brought me here to WHOS Hunter was that my addiction took control of me and my life was unmanageable. I took a shot of speed and a hand full of pills topped up with a few large bottles of beer.   A few people were hovering outside my house, I can’t remember what happened but people got hurt and there were police saying that I intimidated them. They said that I had done unacceptable things such as pulling a knife on my wife, I set parts of the house on fire and walked out to the shed and put a rope up and I put it around my neck and then fell off the chair.

I don’t remember it but my friend told me about it.  All I remember is I woke up it the psych ward.

What it is like now is that it is hard looking back on it now. If someone hadn’t cut me down I would not be here now. I now understand just how precious my life is including my family. I nearly threw it all away for my addiction. I love life where I am now and thank God someone was watching out for me because I am a good person and now have good people around me.

My future plans are to live a healthy and manageable life, as well appreciating every day that I spend with my family and friends. Get a job that I actually like to do, and have another child with my beautiful wife.

Thank you.



Hi, my name is Sophie and I am an alcoholic. I will be eternally grateful to the Therapeutic Community at Cyrenian House, my counsellor, my very wise sponsor,  my Higher Power, my daily program, The Serenity Prayer and the fellowships of AA and NA.

Today I am 1 year 8 months sober….

I remember having tears streaming down my face…I asked myself what was wrong with me, I had a great husband, 3 beautiful children, a loving family,  a fantastic job, a lovely home, yet I was so dreadfully unhappy. I felt emotionally spiritually and physically broken. I was in the deepest darkest all consuming hole, I felt I could not escape. I was dying a slow and painful death and I was creating a tsunami of devastation around me and those who loved me.

After walking through the doors of Cyrenian house and experiencing 10 ½ months as a resident in the community, I learned that I had been in  denial and  that I was consumed with a horrific addiction to alcohol. Slowly this addiction wrecked my marriage, stole my children, affected my job and devastated my family. As quickly as I would take my next drink, so was my health deteriorating. My self esteem was so low. I had no self-confidence and felt totally inadequate.

I had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, had  taken a variety  of anti-depressants, been to numerous psychologists and psychiatrists, all this was to no avail.

I took a leap of faith and went to Cyrenian House Therapeutic Community and there I began my journey of personal growth, healthy behaviours, positive attitudes and a life changing challenge.  I became aware of my self-defeating behaviours. I realised after many reflective essays that I wrote and shared with the group in the TC, that if I did not change my dysfunctional behaviour, I would relapse into active addiction. The feedback empathy and support I received from my counsellors and other residents was without doubt the foundation of my recovery. I was never alone. The saying “I can’t but we can” prevailed throughout my time in the TC and although I have been out of rehab for 10 months, it still does.

Pre rehab, I did not know that I had poor boundaries, I could not say “no” to anyone nor anything,  I was a typical people-pleaser, I justified everything I said or did, I was co-dependent, I would always rescue and comfort others, I neglected what I wanted or who the real “me” was. I compared myself to everyone.  I had the opportunity in the TC with a lot of support and guidance, to explore these character defects, and became aware of how they impacted on me in a negative way.

Every aspect of the program was meaningful and beneficial. I learned to work a daily program, I shared my journey with other recovering addicts and together we learned that we were powerless over people, places and things. We were taught to believe in ourselves and were encouraged to recognise the spiritual principles that we practised daily such as courage, surrender, gratitude, tolerance, love, honesty….

We learned that we had worth and were strong and that we could endure the pain of our past, work through it and have acceptance.

By supporting the therapeutic community values, and participating in community life, I developed positive attitudes and recognised my own personal strengths.  I now recognise my character defects and do not need to run, hide or “numb” my feelings. I have learned a healthy way to deal with them. I can communicate  in a positive and assertive manner.

My relationship with alcohol was toxic and the consequences of my drinking had lead to isolation. In the therapeutic community, I realised the importance of communicating and relating to others without any mind altering substance.

Thanks to the program and the community  I have re-established a grateful attitude and this determines how I live my everyday life. I learned to take ownership of my actions and past experiences and learned to stop blaming others for my behaviours. Consequential thinking has saved me from picking up that first drink!!!

Being authentic even at the risk of criticism or rejection is not easy, yet the importance of being honest open  and willing is what I practise daily and pray for. This keeps me sober. I will keep using all the tools I have picked up along my journey and will continue to do this one day at a time.

I have my three beautiful children back in my life, I have a full time job and a lovely home. My family trusts me and believe in me. I am so proud of myself and love my new life.

I experienced so much pain and agony, but the TC gave me strength to face each challenge with courage. It was not easy, but it was worth it.

My main change after coming into Cyrenian House and recovery is that I have a desire to live again.  Before coming into recovery I was morally and spiritually bankrupt and felt I had nothing to offer anybody, even myself.  I feel I have got a lot better in my apathy and complacency.  I have become more focused, positive and willing and open to recovery.  I am still working on my self-will.

I have made a huge improvement towards my dishonesty and manipulation.  I have actually used the spiritual principles of compassion and empathy towards others and genuinely care about others and try to offer my support.  My self-esteem and confidence has grown so much.  I have a better understanding of feelings and I have gained communication skills back that I lost in addiction.

I have gained awareness around co-dependency, boundaries and my inner child.  I have a better attitude towards life again and am really excited about living my life clean.  When I came in I didn’t care about anything or anyone, including myself.

I am so grateful to Cyrenian House and the residents and staff for not giving up on me and supporting me.  I will not stop working on my attitudes and behaviour.

Linda, 23, now back in her own home

This is where the story would go and the featured image gets displayed in the gallery…