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“I’M an ice addict” – the four words
a Riverland woman needed to utter
before she could turn her life around.
Staring into the eyes of a nurse
in the emergency section of the
Riverland General Hospital, in Berri,
Julie had hit what she described as
“rock bottom” and wanted and need-
ed her ice addiction to end.
Admitting she had a problem was
the first step in the right direction of
a long and hard road to recovery.
“You are in denial when you are
on ice,” she said.
“I started smoking ice about seven
“It started off as a weekend thing,
then it became every couple of days
and then an every-day thing.”
Julie was introduced to ice at a
party in her own home. While not
wanting to entice others to use the
drug, she described it as “the best
feeling in the world”.
“That is why you get addicted to
it,” she said.
“The first time I used it I was
drunk. I smoked it and all of a sud-
den I become sober, felt good, (and)
tidied up my house because I had
had people there.
“Everything was great and I
thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing
“I went to work. I hadn’t slept, but
I still went to work.”
But, Julie said life soon began to
“crumble” as she used ice to cope
with her everyday struggles.
“All that mattered to me was to be
high all the time,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are
or what job you have, as soon as you
puff on that pipe and try this drug,
you are going to become addicted.
There are no two ways about it.
“All I was worried about was buy-
ing ice with my money. It was like I
was conscious all the time, knowing
what I was doing was bad, but I just
couldn’t help it.”
Eventually, Julie stopped working
and said there was a time when eve-
ryone she was surrounded by were
also on ice.
“I didn’t have any other ‘straight’
friends, as you lose a lot of your
friends and lose a lot of your family,”
“Your (clean) friends make plans
and you are not reliable.”
After a couple of years, Julie
became a constant user.
“I would be smoking half a gram
a day, easily,” she said.
“(The pipe) was always there; I
would always have it.”
However, it all came to an end
nine months ago, when Julie hit rock
bottom and went to hospital weigh-
ing just 49kg.
“I was really bad and suicidal,”
“I had told my mum that I just
wanted to die.
“I knew I was ready (to give up
ice) because I still actually had ice
and I hadn’t touched it.
“Normally I would make sure that
I had smoked it all and would be
Julie was assessed at the Riverland
General Hospital and had nothing
but praise for Dr John Dunn and
“My doctor, Dr Dunn, saved my
life; he is the best,” Julie said.
“At first we talked about me going
to a detox centre and rehabilitation
centre, but the closest and the quick-
est they could get me in was Byron
Bay and that was still going to be
another six weeks.”
After discussions and assessing
that she was a good candidate, Julie
was put on a trial drug.
“I was the first in the Riverland to
be given them,” she said.
“The drug actually kills all the
craving cells in our brain.
“I detoxed here in the Riverland
and then went to Adelaide (for the
Since then, Julie has been free
from ice and has begun rebuilding
“It is just amazing to be able to
say (that), now that it has been nine
months,” she said.
Julie has started working again
and is finding happiness in a routine
that consists of consistent sleeping
and eating patterns.
“I am doing great,” she said.
“The people who are still on ice,
I feel really sorry for, as I know they
are in that rut that I was in.”
Julie has been forced to distance
herself from friends who still use ice.
“I know the ones that do care
about me are genuinely happy for
me,” she said.
“There are always going to be
those people who have that thought,
‘once a crackhead, always a crack-
“Whatever. Unfortunately I have
heard it quite a few times since.
“They are just in denial of their
own life really.”
Julie said she regrets the damage
her ice use has caused others.
“It is a really cruel thing to put
your family through,” she said.
“I hate that I have upset (my
mum) a lot and hate that I have made
“I just can’t wait until she doesn’t
have that worry.
“People just don’t understand the
affect it has on your parents.”
Readers seeking support and
information about suicide prevention
can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
SITTING in the Riverland
General Hospital, Linda
remembers the moment her
daughter’s life began to turn
“The nurse came and
said to Julie, ‘Now, what is
the problem?’,” she said.
“Julie looked her straight
in the eye and said, ‘I’m an
Linda’s daughter, Julie,
was an ice addict for seven
years before reaching “rock
Since that fateful
moment in the hospital nine
months ago, Julie has been
clean from methampheta-
While Linda has her
daughter back from drug
addiction, she said she still
struggles to deal with the
impact it had.
“It has done a lot of men-
tal damage,” she said.
“But, there is help and
there is help for parents too.
“It does help to talk
about it and realise your
kids are no different than
Once a month, Linda
attends a confidential fam-
ily support group here in
“It is a wonderful group,”
“You meet other people
who know exactly what you
are going through.
“These parents don’t
need to be doing it on their
Despite now looking for-
ward to the monthly meet-
ings, Linda said the thought
of a family support group
was daunting at first.
“I didn’t want people to
know my daughter was an
ice addict,” she said.
“I felt a little bit of
shame, I guess.
“But, being able to talk is
the best thing.”
While Julie admits she
was an ice addict for about
seven years, Linda said she
was unaware for years.
“Because she wasn’t liv-
ing at home, I didn’t see a
great deal of it,” she said.
“I suspected it after she
had been on it for about
“I could see the change.”
When Julie hit rock bot-
tom, she weighed just 49kg
and would go days without
After nine months, Linda
said she was happy to have
her daughter back.
“She has done really
well,” she said.
“Julie has given up alco-
hol and marijuana as well.
“Julie has had some
lucky breaks as she was
given a job by someone that
knew her history.”
Linda thanked those that
have helped Julie find the
road to recovery.
“River Docs were fantas-
tic and the nurses were just
incredible,” she said.
Parents can get sup-
port by calling the Ren-
mark Community Health
Service on 8586 5504
or the Alcohol and Drug
Information Service on
1300 131 340.
Taylor Group journalist Stephanie Thompson recently sat down with a former ice user
from the Riverland and her mother in a bid to raise awareness about the impact the
drug is having on individuals, families and communities. Julie* and Linda* are not
their real names, they have been changed to protect their privacy.
LOCAL ICE ADDICT
TELLS HER STORY
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