Sharing her journey of ice addiction and treatment feels like lifting a heavy burden off her shoulders. Now nearly one year clean, Jess can finally stop lying.
My name is Jess. I’m thirty two years old and a mother to two beautiful children. To the rest of the world, I presented the front of being a loving, devoted mother. Which I was.
What most people didn’t see, was the turmoil I suffered experiencing a full blown ice addiction at the same time.
My story begins at about the age of twenty four – my partner, who is the father of my children, introduced me to ice.
I used on and off over the past eight years. It started recreationally – one weekend I thought, “let’s give it a go”.
From that moment forward, nothing else was good enough, wasn’t as good, wasn’t as fun. Alcohol was nothing compared with the allure of ice. I started using once a month, then slowly, but surely it became every weekend, then a couple of times during the week and finally everyday.
My partner and I were together for fifteen year. We used to get ice through all his friends. You’re hooked from day one, which is very scary.
I had just given birth to my first child. If I look back, I didn’t have many moments where I was thinking, “I shouldn’t be doing this”, as the addictive part of the drug is so intense, I simply didn’t care. I rationalised my use by saying, “everyone’s doing drugs, it’s normal.”
From that moment, it consumed the next eight years of my life.
When I had my second child, I had given up using ice six months before trying. I did not touch drugs during my pregnancy either.
However, six months after my daughter was born, I started using again.
My partner had used all the way through the pregnancy.
I would try and stop myself on occasion because you know it’s a problem when you’re using during the day and nobody else is. Everyone else seemed to be going about their everyday life, yet I needed it to get up and function.
My family found out about my ice addiction eighteen months before I went to rehab at the Hader Clinic Queensland.
It was a big shock – I was forced into dealing with the problem.
They encouraged me to move to Queensland to get my act together and I separated from my partner. From that point we weren’t really together but there were times we came back to each other through our drug use.
I managed to get clean by myself during this time, but I was miserable in Queensland. I didn’t actually do anything about my addiction or work on my feelings.
I decided that I was unhappy enough in Queensland to move home. I ended up meeting my ex partner and started using again almost straight away. From that point on I realised that I had a problem and try as I might, I could not stop using ice.
For the next six months I continued to use, all the while knowing that I needed help and needed to stop. The kids were with us all the time. I never used in front of them but we still had to step up and be parents, even when we were high.
Trying to stop was too tiring, too exhausting and I just didn’t have the strength to be able to stop. Neither did I have the time or space to be able to “sleep off” the drug so I could properly detox. I was using the drug to get me out of bed in the mornings, to stay awake during the day and to feed, bathe and school kids. I would wake up the next morning and think, “I’m not going to use today,” but I did – I couldn’t stop myself.
I remember wanting to take a few days off using because I was exhausted – but I couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t risk falling asleep at work. I simply didn’t have the tools to manage it.
I really wanted to go to rehab too, but didn’t know what to do – if I stopped using and detoxed with the kids around, I would have had to tell someone. I didn’t want others knowing that I was struggling with ice addiction.
My partner was never violent towards me but our relationship, with drugs in the middle of it, became very toxic. He wanted to quit, I wanted to quit, and neither of us could do it. A lot of unpleasant emotion came with it – we blamed and shamed each other for our use.
There were times when neither of us were good to be around – especially when neither of us slept for days. We were living in a completely different reality.
Throughout my addiction, I continued to work. I excelled at my job. I parented my children. Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors. When I left my job to move interstate and go to rehab I had to come clean and tell them the truth. They were naturally shocked, but supportive.
However, my family never gave up on me. They wanted me to get the help I needed, especially being the mother of two small children.
They were adamant that I go to rehab and threatened to speak to Child Services if I didn’t comply. However, by that time I was more than ready to tackle my illness head on.
If someone is offering you help like this, why wouldn’t you accept it? I guess that I was fortunate enough that my life really hadn’t hit rock bottom. However, it was rock bottom enough for me.
When I came to rehab at the Hader Clinic Queensland, I was two weeks’ clean which was very helpful. I made that decision prior to going into rehab, because I knew what I wanted – and being dazed and confused from detoxing wasn’t part of my plan.
I entered rehab wanting recovery from day one and wanting to learn from the moment I walked down the steps. I believe the key to recovery is knowing that you really want it, and that there is no other option for you.
Yes, rehab was a scary experience, but from day one, I knew I wanted complete recovery, which made the difference. The cycle of addiction had been exhausting – there’s nothing more gut wrenching than to be able to see what’s happening and feeling powerless to stop using, even though you want to.
My kids mean everything to me, and that was enough for me to want to go to rehab. However, I learned that you also want to have to get better for yourself too, which I did.
The rehab experience reminded me a little bit of boarding school – it has a communal feel, where everybody helps and supports each other. We ate, and participated in many activities together. I was horribly nervous walking down those stairs, but do you know what? Speaking to other people who were there for the same reason I was… I felt like I was at home.
No longer did I have to pretend that I was OK in the ‘outside world’ by lying, cheating or covering up, all the while trying to get high. On that first day of rehab I distinctly remember thinking, “OMG, I can finally be truthful about myself here”.
That was one of the main experiences that stuck with me from the moment I arrived. I kept thinking, “I can finally stop lying. I can tell the truth about myself”. It was such a relief. Living a lie, like I did for so long (even though I got used to it) felt very heavy. Rehab was a burden lifted. I related to the other attendees and the staff – I particularly liked Mark – he was raw, honest and relatable – but never sugar coated anything.
During rehab, I started the twelve step program and got through the first and second step as I did the thirty day program. I participated in meetings (NA) and started the “ninety meetings in ninety days” program until COVID19 hit.
Outside of rehab, I try to go to meetings when I can and regularly go to church which gives me the spiritual nourishment I need to continue my recovery.
The spiritual aspects of NA appealed to me, and the idea of a higher power resonated with me. When you’re in rehabilitation, you want to throw yourself as much into learning as possible – I didn’t want to be away from my kids for more than thirty days, so I really made the most of every day I had available to me.
The thirty day program worked for me because I had such strong family support. All of my immediate family are here and I wouldn’t be as well and happy as I am now if it weren’t for them. They paid for rehab, bought me a car and helped set me up here. The kids now have their mother back – fully present and fully functioning.
Now that I’m out of addiction, I’m no longer thinking about drugs. It’s such a blessing. I’ve started to enjoy the smaller things, and feel like I’m able to slow down and savour life, and it’s something I am very grateful for.
If I had any words of wisdom, I would say be truthful. You may think you’ve got it under control, but you don’t. Plus, really wanting recovery and not fighting it from day one has been pivotal in my journey.
I am grateful for the opportunity to go to rehab to acquire the skills and tools I need to stay clean – and cannot thank The Hader Clinic Queensland and my family for their support.
Life is great!