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Recovery Series: Nelson’s Story

Nelson was one of those guys you might not easily guess would have a drinking problem. 

He was a partner at a successful law firm. His career was going great guns. And he’d just bought a fine home for his wife and kids. 

Sure he drank, but wasn’t that just a way of dealing with the stresses of life!? To Nelson, drinking wasn’t a problem. It was the solution!

As happens with so many of us, alcohol had different ideas– and things were about to unravel fast.

In the space of two weeks, Nelson was twice arrested and found himself remanded to Parklea Correctional Centre. He was asked to resign his position at work and required to front a Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal. And just when things couldn’t seem to get any worse, Nelson found himself estranged from his wife and kids. 

That’s when he called us.

“It was genuinely only on the basis of legal advice that I ended up at the Retreat,” he admitted. 

Nelson had dabbled with 12 Step Recovery in the past and wasn’t impressed. “When I realised what the Retreat was about I joked that I should’ve stayed at Parklea!”

A week after he’d arrived however, Nelson began to have a new experience. 

“For me being at the Retreat was like a crash course in AA. By the time I left … I understood that the issue was not so much the alcohol … it’s all of the other stuff that happens and who we are as people.”

Nelson feels that for him it would not have been possible to get the message of recovery without The Sydney Retreat. Here, he was able to engage with the program at his own pace and in spite of his early misgivings. Retreat staff allowed Nelson to have his own experience and that was what made the difference. 

This week, Nelson celebrated his one-year sobriety anniversary. He is again respected in his workplace and is taking tentative steps to restore his family life. Nelson has even volunteered at The Sydney Retreat, sharing his story of recovery with those just starting out in the program.

Life still has its challenges, but today Nelson has a real solution; one that doesn’t require picking up a bottle. And with a structure of ongoing support he continues to utilize today, Nelson feels he has a good shot at maintaining sobriety. One day at a time.

“I have never been happier,” Nelson says. And at The Sydney Retreat, that’s a feeling we want everyone to share!

To find out more about The Sydney Retreat’s recovery program, visit

Need Help? Call us on 02 9171 2920

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