Ice: to hell and back
After trying ice at Schoolies, Tia’s life descended into a life of crime, domestic violence, dealing and more as her addiction took over. Now six months clean, Tia shares her incredible story.
I turned twenty in July and am the youngest child of a tight knit Italian family. As you can imagine, it was a pretty strict family oriented home. I went to an all girls high school, until I dropped out in Grade 11.
My siblings are six and seven years older than me, so growing up, I often felt lonely. When they were in their early teens I was that annoying little sister.
I started using drugs when I was fifteen.
I had been in a relationship for about a year. He’d had prior convictions relating to drugs but during that year I didn’t touch any drugs – I knew nothing about them, except for drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
We were going to Schoolies, a year before my supposed “time” and I got introduced to meth there.
I thought it was awesome. I’d downed a bottle of Grey Goose and we smoked a lot.
I thought it was great, because I was a very shy person and when combined with the alcohol, I could talk to anyone, and it looked like I was having so much fun.
Around that time, my grandmother, Nan, became sick.
I had spent a lot of time with her in my childhood – there was a period of time where my mum was sick and Nan looked after me.
I was really close to her.
At this stage I was struggling at home, I was arguing with my parents and didn’t want to follow their house rules, nor be at home.
I ended up running away from home when I was fifteen or sixteen and moved in with my partner.
Soon I was smoking meth daily. It was my drug of choice. I never injected.
My parents weren’t aware of my drug use. And I didn’t tell anyone I was using. They thought something was very wrong, though.
They were angry and upset with me moving out, they especially didn’t approve of my partner. It was a struggle.
I pushed them away a lot, but maintained some contact.
Once I started using daily, the appeal of the drug wore off very quickly.
However, I wasn’t aware that it was the drugs that were causing my wild mood swings, psychotic rages, the arguments with my partner and consequential uncontrolled hysteria and crying.
All I know is that if I just smoked a pipe, I’d feel better.
A year later, we were still living together. I was beginning to become aware that ice wasn’t working for me.
I made some attempts to get off the drug by myself, and to get my partner off it.
I was beginning to tire of the life that came with drug use – doing crime, living day to day on Centrelink income and never having any security.
At seventeen, it was hard.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get off it. I kept smoking it.
Then there was that little issue of trying to pay for it.
Initially my Centrelink payment paid our rent and the rest of the money my boyfriend made from selling the drugs would go towards more drugs – we were doing and selling a lot of drugs.
Then we started robbing people and stealing things and hocking them.
I wasn’t that big into crime until recently. I really had no idea about it. I was just the at home girlfriend that did drugs.
He was also violent towards me.
At seventeen, I believed this was just what we had to do so we could live our lifestyle. I turned a blind eye to a lot of it.
The domestic abuse also escalated and I left him, saying that I was spending the night at my parents’ place and I never went back. I packed everything I own, including my cat.
I endured months and months of abuse after that, with threats of setting fire to our house, driving a car into my house etc. It was horrible.
In the meantime, I met another partner, and that’s when I started getting into heavy cocaine use.
Then I attached myself to another guy selling meth. We got very close and moved in together. I got back on the ice every single day.
It was terrible.
He was doing a lot of crime. I wasn’t really involved with it, but in some ways I was.
There were a lot of guns, money and a lot of moving. We moved continuously from one hotel, one place to another.
I was shifting drugs up and down the coast.
He ended up getting pinched, so I was dealing the drugs for him while he was in jail. I was living alone in his apartment and I got so far in over my head with drugs.
Xanax, Lyrica, Valium – I was doing it all.
I completely lost my mind. My house was run through three times. I wasn’t quite overdosed, but I wasn’t coherent.
We split up and I moved out of his apartment.
Then I met my last partner.
It was the same. Horrible.
We would move from hotel to hotel, never being in the one place for more than two to three days max. He’d be selling drugs and I’d be selling for him.
I committed a lot of fraud crime.
There was a lot of ID fraud. I’d buy things on Facebook Marketplace using someone else’s name and then wouldn’t pay for things which we’d sell. Any sneaky way we could to get money to pay for drugs.
One night my boyfriend and I didn’t have a place to stay and we went to my parents’ house with a key that I had stolen. I knew that they were away.
We stayed there for a few days and I ended up blacking out there.
My parents told me that there had been money stolen from the house.
Naturally, they blamed us. I knew it was my boyfriend as he habitually stole from me, my money, drugs, everything.
We had an intervention. My Mum, my Dad, my counsellor – they all confronted me and told me that I was going to rehab.
I tried for a few weeks to get a bed at a public facility and when one became available, I just didn’t go.
I was scared, because I didn’t know what my life would be without drugs.
One evening I was with my dad and I had what you could describe as a massive mental meltdown.
I couldn’t be hospitalised because it was a public holiday and nobody could do a thing with me.
My dad pleaded with me to talk with the staff at the Hader Clinic Queensland.
My sister’s friend had been in the clinic and had just recently celebrated two years of being clean.
I had the pre-admission interview and was due to go to rehab four days later.
The night before, however, I did a runner and got on the drugs again hard, as I’d spent four days trying to be clean.
So… I ended up there a day later than my supposed admission date.
I did the ninety day program.
Detox was horrible.
Xanax and Lyrica are terrible to withdraw from. I was a 37kg bag of bones.
That first week, I slept.
I had so many emotions, I found it hard but I mainly felt terrified.
I fought the system hard for the first month. Honestly, it was like a blur, I have little recollection of anything that happened.
After thirty days I started feeling better.
I started having flashbacks and that’s when shit got real. I stopped fighting then, and thought that I was doing really well.
However, my need for connection got me optioned out of the rehab as I was caught having sex with another client there.
Chronic using had me using sex as a means of finding connection. I didn’t know that drugs take away your ability to connect with others and yourself.
I was devastated, and horrified by the prospect of dealing with my parents. I was scared that they would read me the riot act.
Instead my dad simply said, “I sense so much sadness in you, and “I know that you’re really trying”.
It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting at all.
That month was the hardest of all – staying clean on the outside by myself was tough, especially as my parents went overseas for a holiday.
I was able to come back, though, and complete the final thirty days.
I couldn’t wait to go back to rehab.
I was humbled by being back at the rehab because I had seen how hard it was on the outside, doing it alone, sticking to the program.
It’s up to you to stay clean and there’s no one on the outside to keep you accountable or check on you.
So when I went back to rehab, I couldn’t get enough of recovery.
I thought, “I want to fix this, I want to fix this, I want to fix this”.
I spent a lot of time working on myself, especially on the aspect of self love as that’s where I really struggled.
I’d look for that love from other people – in having sex, especially. In those situations, I wasn’t receiving the love I so desperately craved back.
It felt good, deciding to change.
I’m now living in the transition house. I’m glad I did it.
I’m still not ready to go it alone. It’s been good living with others who are also trying to recover.
I’m still working on myself and learning to live my life with purpose. But mostly I’m just trying to manage one day at a time.
Because I was so young when I started drugs, I’ve lost the opportunity to learn basic things – like doing life and integrating back into my family … learning to live by their standards.
I have no idea how to cook, clean and do the basics, all the simple things you learn growing up in a family home.
Also, I’m having to learn how to make, and keep friends – real friends.
Mark, a Hader Clinic QLD staff member has had the most impact on my recovery.
He understands me well – he’s the one that caught me having sex.
He was really good about it – he made me feel like it was okay, that it was all going to be okay in the end.
He made me realise that I CAN do this and that I deserve a better life than the one I’d been living.
And that addiction is the opposite of connection.
I’m six month’s clean today. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most worthwhile.
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