I had a good childhood; I grew up in a small country town. I wasn’t exposed to drugs or alcohol. My parents didn’t drink or smoke. I was raised well. My mum was really strict, she had really high expectations of me. I always felt like I had to be perfect like I was an extension of her. We never saw eye to eye. We fought constantly. I had a good relationship with my dad and older brother.
The trouble started when I was 15. My friend was dating an older guy who was a known drug user. He introduced me to his friend who was 18 and we started going out. I thought he just smoked pot, which didn’t really interest me. I was very naive about drugs as I had never been around them before. I knew he was a drug dealer, I thought he was cool and liked being around that scent.
When I was in year 11 I had enough of living with my mum, she was strict and controlling and we constantly fought. One day when mum was at work I packed everything up and moved into a drop-in house with my boyfriend. There were always people coming in and out. Living there I became very desensitised to drug use. They injected ice every day. I just thought that is how everyone took drugs.
We weren’t in a good relationship. He was horrible to me. Very controlling and abusive. He showed no interest in me at all really. He would tell me to leave and say horrible things to me. I would beg him to let me stay. I was happy to accept the way he treated me, I just wanted to be part of this cool group of people. We dated for a year before I tried ice for the first time. I was 16. He had never offered me drugs before – there was no lead-up, no gateway drugs and he gave me ice intravenously. I didn’t use drugs every day, he wouldn’t give them to me. I started using ice on the weekends and before parties. I couldn’t inject by myself, so he had all of the control.
I finished school and we moved to a bigger town. I was working and could afford to use ice more frequently. I broke up with my boyfriend when I was 19. We broke up because I got a job in the mines. I moved to the coast and stayed there when I wasn’t working. I felt I had control of the drug use. I didn’t believe I had a problem because I had a good house and a job. But whenever I was off work I would use drugs all day every day. I was leading a double life. I felt less than at work and better than with my drug-using friends.
This lifestyle was very isolating. No one knew or suspected I was a drug addict. When I was 20, I got back together with my ex. I was based near my old hometown. I would get every Wednesday off and I would drive to see him and we would use together. On my time off we would go to my house on the coast and use the whole time.
My drug use had escalated, I used to have to rely on him to inject me. But out of desperation to use ice I learned how to do it by myself.
For 7 years I had very little contact with my family. I left my job in the mines so that I could use more drugs. I was making good money, but I could only use for 7 days of the month, that wasn’t enough for me. I remember when I was leaving that job thinking I was going to regret this decision, but I felt completely powerless. I had a lot of savings and took time off. I was using ice every single day. I was so thin, and I was still in this extremely violent relationship. My mental health was terrible, the police would be called to our property daily. We had DVOs on each other. I was extremely paranoid and would see and hear things.
My money started running out, so I went and got another job. While I was working there, I was still using every day. The relationship I was in got even worse. The violence was escalating. He would hit me nearly every day. I had to take a lot of time off work due to bruises on my face. I kept using more and more because my reality was so bad and I wanted to block it out. Between the ages of 22 to 25, I have very little recollection. I was self-medicating the trauma the ice use was creating.
I finally had enough. I arranged a share house in the city and in the middle of the night, I packed my stuff and left my ex. I have never heard from him again. The pain had become greater than the fear of changing. I got clean for a little while mostly because I didn’t know anyone to score drugs from.
I was clean for close to a year until I figured out I could just buy drugs from Craigslist. I met someone and bought a huge amount of ice and started dealing. I built up a customer base and was selling big quantities. I felt powerful like no one could ever control me again. I had free drugs. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had found a way to use drugs manageably. This was short-lived and I started to get in trouble with the law.
When I was 27, I met my current partner. He would buy drugs from me. Our relationship was different then my last. I kept him at a distance. When he moved in with me, I told him that he was renting a room from me. I wanted to have power and never be controlled by someone again.
The next few years were filled with daily ice use and getting in trouble with the law. I got fired from my job and became a full-time drug dealer to support my drug use. I was facing serious drug trafficking and commercial possession charges. I got a lawyer but I was in complete denial that I would have any serious consequences. I thought that because I looked normal from the outside nothing would happen to me. When my lawyer told me I was facing a definite prison sentence, I was in complete shock. I was terrified and so far away from the person I thought I was.
My lawyer told me to go to rehab. I only stayed there for a week and was on bail. I left and went on the run, thinking I could just pretend I was in rehab. I used more ice than I ever had before. It was really impacting my mental health. My boyfriend went into ice-induced psychosis and ended up in a lot of trouble. This terrified me. I realised that if we didn’t do something we were going to either die, go to jail, or go permanently insane. He went to rehab and I continued to use. He made me promise to come as well, he was telling me about what he was learning at Hader Clinic Queensland. I hoped for the first time that there might be a way out.
I went to Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation for 30 days and when the time was up, I didn’t feel ready to leave so I stayed another 30 days. I learned so many tools that help me in my recovery. I was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and literature. The powerful stories of recovery helped me have hope that I too could recover.
When we got out of rehab all the tools were a great foundation. I remember the staff were always saying “Do the next right thing” and this became the motto I lived by.
Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland I have now been free from ice addiction for over 2 years. My life has changed so much in this time.