For most people, returning to rehab would be one of the last things they think about doing after leaving.
However, nine months after leaving, Annie has found herself back at Impact Recovery, an organisation run by Christ Church − only this time not as a resident, but as a house supervisor.
“When I told my mum what I was doing she said, ‘You’ve just got out of there, why do you want to go back?’,” Annie said.
“I had to explain that I don’t want to go back to rehab, I want to go back to help people.”
Annie completed a 31-month stint at Impact Recovery in Bendigo for alcohol addiction.
Although she describes her time in rehab as long and difficult, she said it was definitely worth it.
Having previously given up alcohol twice, first for six months and then for 11, Annie knew from experience she needed professional help.
“It’s not just about willpower. Until you actually figure out why you’re drinking, you’re just going to keep going back to it,” she said.
For Annie, her time in rehab was one of self-discovery.
“I just found it really helped me get in touch with the pain I was trying to cover up with the alcohol.
“ It helped me learn how to deal with my own anxiety and gave me the tools to actually deal with my emotions.”
Annie’s history with alcohol is one of trauma, hardship and an undeniable desire to succeed.
At 16, Annie was introduced to alcohol and marijuana after she attempted suicide.
“Alcohol just numbed the pain and made it feel like it went away,” she said.
Married at 20, Annie didn’t drink for years but admitted to smoking every day. After her marriage broke down she started social drinking.
During a 10 year period, this became more regular until she found herself drinking most days.
Having also been involved in two violent relationships, Annie said she had lost her sense of self and her independence.
“My existence was actually about my partner, not me. I forgot what I liked doing,” she said.
“I forgot what I wanted to do for my future. I had friends but they were through my partner.”
Eventually Annie decided she did not want to live that way. “It wasn’t really living,” she said.
“I decided there has got to be more for me.”
Annie entered the program and found a huge emphasis on community and belonging.
“It’s like you have another family who really cares about you and wants to see the best for you,” she said.
Of her rehab experience, Annie valued being surrounded by mentors who had been through similar life experiences.
Being mentored by others who had been in her place, and seeing what life without alcohol could be like, is what inspired Annie to take on the role as house supervisor.
“I want to help others get out of the dark hole. That’s really important to me,” she said.
As house supervisor, Annie said she is again on a journey of self-discovery and has learnt how to help others and deal with people’s behaviours, trauma and pain.
For those considering getting help, Annie said: “Just do it. They say that until the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same, people won’t get help, so if anyone is thinking about getting help, just do it.”
You can contact Impact Recovery on 5441 3327.
By GRACE AICKEN