Sarah’s Meth Addiction Recovery
Sarah was a meth user, was in abusive relationships, working as a stripper and a sex worker, and homeless. Then she completed residential addiction treatment for her meth addiction. This is her story.
I was a meth user, have lost my home several times, been involved in criminal charges, been homeless, been to court, and eventually been to rehab.
Yesterday, I reached my 7 months clean milestone.
I did a 28-day program at Hader Clinic, which turned into a 90-day program, and I’m now in the transitional housing program. When I finish transition, I’m doing the outpatient program too.
For the first time in my life, I am in a safe, stable environment. This is the story of how I got here.
It all started when I was a teenager. Growing up, I felt like I walked around on eggshells a lot. My dad was quite an aggressive guy, so I had trouble with him. I started using when I was 16; just smoking weed and stuff.
Then, I moved to the UK when I was 17, and lived there for a year. That’s when I started using coke and pills. I ended up moving back to Australia because I was just having a terrible time there. I settled back in with my parents and realised that I really needed to get a job. This is when I started stripping.
I became a stripper, and I was terrible at it. I used to hide from the lady (my manager) – she would be telling me I had to go up on the stage and dance and I’d be so nervous. That’s when I met these girls. I came over to them, and they were smoking meth. I asked, “What is that?”, and they said it was crack and I just sort of thought, okay, cool. And I thought, it’s crack cocaine. I had just finished watching Breaking Bad in the UK, and I remembered Jesse smoking meth.
Pretty quickly after starting to use with them, I was in psychosis, and I found it really hard to hold down a job. I’d get a job in hospitality but couldn’t hold it. At this point, I had stopped stripping. I had had a falling out with the girls because they couldn’t deal with me anymore. I was too intense. I would make bad mistakes and I was all over the place.
After that, I thought I’d try and make an “honest” living, so I started working in this restaurant in the Valley. But really, I couldn’t keep any of these jobs. Inevitably, I’d end up smoking weed, or doing drinks after work, and then I’d turn my phone off and just disappear. I would spend my paycheck on drugs and an outfit that I’d wear the whole week.
I met this girl who was escorting, and I thought, I need to make money; I don’t know what I’m doing, I have nowhere to go. Things were bad with my parents, and they didn’t understand where I was coming from with the things that I was doing. They’d say, “why can’t you just get a job and keep it?” They didn’t really understand what I was experiencing.
So I started sex working. This girl introduced me to it, but I wanted to do it as well because I just wanted money. I didn’t really know what my intention was at the time – it was just about making money, and somehow having a life.
I moved to Sydney and was living at this house with the escort girl and this other guy. At this point, I had decided I wanted to stop using meth. So I put myself into this detox program. It went pretty bad.
I ended up moving in with my abusive partner, and I was off the drugs for a few days. I didn’t like relying on people; I wanted to pay my own way and do my own stuff. I just felt like I was depending on him, so I went back to sex work, made money, and moved out. But he and I were still together.
He had bipolar and was also aggressive. He was pretty messed up. We were on and off for a good while and I was still sex working – that kind of work was all I knew. I was just so anxious, and I couldn’t stop using.
I was doing HeadSpace at the time, and I would go to these drug and alcohol appointments. But I would turn up high. I would do everything external, but I just couldn’t put down the drugs.
My partner and I broke up. He broke my nose in the end, and he was sexually abusive as well. Things were really bad with him.
So I got a new place, and he didn’t know where I lived.
But then there was this other guy.
Before I went into recovery, I found myself bouncing from one guy to another – I was very co-dependent. I could never be on my own, even though all I wanted was to be on my own.
I didn’t want to be with him at all. I wanted to be independent – I had recently gotten out of this terrible relationship. But this guy just wouldn’t go away.
He would help me with a lot of things, and he was always there. He didn’t know I did drugs. I decided to be honest with him and just say, look, I’m struggling with coming off drugs, and he would use that against me.
I ended up once again losing my place and moving in with him. I lived with him, and I’d see my parents over Christmas. I would fly to Brisbane for Christmas and would tell myself, I’ll come off the drugs in Brisbane, then fly back to Sydney and get my life together.
It was 2020, and all my stuff was in Sydney. My parents said, we can get your stuff from Sydney, and you can stay here in Brisbane to work things out. And I thought, okay, cool. I didn’t want to go to Sydney – back to him – and work things out. My life was falling apart, and I had no control over anything; he was very controlling of me. I felt like I had to explain myself to him all the time, and he was just awful.
I’d tell him things that my abusive ex had said, like the time he had threatened to kill me, and then he would start saying it to me as well. I was using too, and things were just bad.
So I went back to Sydney to get all my stuff and came back to Brisbane, which is when all the covid stuff started to happen. I ended up relapsing in Sydney. During my stay in Brisbane, I had been off the drugs, but as soon as I was back in Sydney, I found drugs again.
It was hard being back in Sydney. I saw my old DV counsellor, said goodbye to her, and my heart would race, just being there. It still makes me sick, even just thinking about my time in Sydney.
As soon as we returned to Brisbane, I was trying to sort out counselling appointments for myself. But I ended up speaking to an old friend and asked if she was still using. She was, so I went and saw her.
Things got pretty bad then.
I had never previously had any problems with the police. Ever. I never reached that point where I was getting charges.
It was still 2020, and I started hanging out with her, using meth all the time. I met this other guy, and he was in and out of jail.
I ended up getting involved in crime. I got charged with possession and got raided by the police. Those were my first charges – I was living in a hostel at this point. The guy went to jail. My parents got raided too and had to move house. They wouldn’t tell me where they lived; they said they were done with me.
I got involved in this thing with this guy before he went to jail. I got charged with deprivation of liberty. There was this other guy and basically, he was held hostage and ended up getting stabbed. I got charged because I was involved. It was a pretty hectic charge.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I used to think I was innocent when I was sex-working, but I know that’s not really true. Compared to the person I became in 2020, I don’t even know who that person was. I thought I was cool. I thought I was this criminal. I thought, this is my life now, I’m just a junkie.
So I was living in this hostel, and he was in jail, and I didn’t end up getting charged until about March 2021.
I was charged with category R weaponry possession charges.
That’s when that guy in Sydney came back into my life. He randomly called me, and he was helping me with money and the charges. He knew all these lawyers.
Living in that hostel, I could barely afford to feed myself, and I thought f*** it, I’ll start taking money from him.
I was thinking, everyone’s screwed me over, I deserve this. I reached an ugly state in my mind where I didn’t give a shit about anyone except myself. I was living disgustingly in that hostel. I ended up hotel hopping from that hostel – he was paying for it.
I had no criminal record with the weapon possession charges. In around April of 2021, the cops came to my mate’s door – they had found me, put me on this charge, and in October of that year I went to court for it, with the Sydney guy’s help. He was like, you need to go to rehab and do this 28-day program. He expected me to have him in my life after.
I went into the program, and my parents came back into my life. I had actually been living on the streets for a couple of weeks, homeless, and I was completely lost. I thought “I don’t deserve to live anywhere, I don’t deserve to have anything”. I didn’t want the guy from Sydney’s help, I didn’t want to be in the situation I was in, and I didn’t want to be facing the charges, but I was.
I hit this crossroad. I didn’t even feel worthy enough to sex work. I felt so worthless, so disgusting, that I couldn’t even do that.
I felt like a putrid human being.
I called my parents in July of last year when I went into rehab. I said, “look, I’m facing these charges and I’m going to go do rehab for 28 days”, and they said, “we’re on board. We’re going to help you.”
And that was really weird. They told me where they lived, and this whole door opened up, as soon as I mentioned I was going to do this rehab. Ever since then, they came back into my life.
After 28 days at Hader Clinic Queensland, I chose to stay on and do the 90-day program. Now I’m in transition.
I didn’t feel like it was enough, the 28-day program. I had never heard about NA before, and going to all these meetings, with all these people I could relate to… it was strange. It was so foreign being around people who understood me.
I’d never felt understood by other people, and the more meetings I did, I realised I wanted and needed more of this. I wanted to stay longer.
The transition house was never even a part of my plan or doing the 90 days, but the fact that I could stay longer, and build a foundation upon a foundation, was just amazing. I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do that, with my parents back in my life and supporting me.
Being an addict and using, my world felt so alone and isolated. Within the first week at Hader, I had one of the support workers knocking on my door like “C’mon! Come do boot camp!” I went along, and as I approached the group and saw everyone, I just broke down crying.
The three months I spent in rehab helped me overcome my fear of being around others; it helped me become social again. I’m with people who understand, including the staff at Hader, many of whom are previous addicts. The whole connection thing and being in a safe environment with other people who relate to you, being stable, and focusing purely on your recovery is cool.
As of yesterday, I’m 7 months clean.
It’s weird. I’ve never been in one place. I’ve always felt like I had to run away; run away from myself. I’ve never felt stable or comfortable.
This is the first time I’ve felt like I’m in a stable and comfortable environment. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable; being uncomfortable in a comfortable place. I’m not used to being in a safe environment.
In 7 months, a lot has happened. I’ve been stable, which is a change.
I’m in the transition program until March.
I’m still nervous about it all, going forward with my life. But after the transition program, I’m going to be doing the outpatient program as well. That’s really going to help me.
I’ve chosen to live with my parents and slowly work my way up to getting a job. Knowing that I’ve got the outpatient program to help me makes me feel so much better. Even doing the UDSs (urine drug screening). I love that because it gives me accountability. I don’t trust myself – I know what I’ve been like in the past, and I don’t know what’s out there that could potentially trigger something for me. It’s kind of scary, not living with the other recovering addicts. I’ll still be seeing them at check-in though, and that’s a bit of a relief.
When I was living in the UK, I started working in aged care and disability. Eventually, long-term I’d like to study and work in that area. My ultimate goal is to become a nurse. I’d love that.
I’m excited, because now, I can really start working toward that future.
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