In response to last week’s article about a drug rehab centre knocked back for Cowes.
I agree that a facility is sorely needed in the Bass Coast/South Gippsland area but not necessarily the type that was proposed at Cowes, which was very much going to be a private business venture to make money – a facility only wealthy families could afford or desperate families forced to take out big loans.
There are plenty of these places to be found if you are in the position like I was, to be seeking rehabilitation for a loved one.
What this community needs is a government-funded, non-religious, not for profit rehabilitation centre (similar to the likes of Odyssey House).
A program whose only agenda is rehabilitation, not money or religion.
A program that organisations like Bass Coast Health can confidently refer clients to.
Clients that are wanting help to be free of their addiction.
I believe something of this nature is mooted for the Sale area but with the amount of people needing help in South Gippsland and Bass Coast, we need one here too.
If Warley Hospital isn’t suitable, it’s a shame the government couldn’t purchase somewhere like the Old Boys Home in Newhaven which sits empty and renovate that.
Odyssey House in Lower Plenty is similar in that it was a former Monastery in a semirural area reinvented as a rehab centre. Or build something out in the hills somewhere if a suitable empty building can’t be found and ignorant neighbours can’t be placated.
There are people out there that genuinely want help but are lost to long waiting lists in public facilities and exorbitant fees at private centres. If a not for profit rehab centre is built in our area the statistics show it will be full in no time.
This time last year my child, whom I’ll call John, finally put his hand up for help, having fallen victim to the ice epidemic.
I say victim because like many, he was ignorant to the danger of its potential addiction when he first tried it.
Back when he first tried ice it was at a party on a Saturday night after work, having been invited along by one of his workmates.
This party was in Wonthaggi at the height of the desal construction.
Ice was being shared around and everyone was having a good time and for whatever reason he tried it too.
John was essentially a good, hard working kid, from a good family.
He had a private school education and all the after school activities and family holidays a kid could want.
As his mum I blame his experimental “don’t give a damn phase” as a result of his dad’s and my divorce.
The family unit had broken up, it was an unhappy time and John was angry at the world. He was young, impressionable and escaped into having a good time with friends and workmates.
He fell in with anyone who wanted to party and he abused alcohol and marijuana. I know there is no reasonable excuse for drug taking but that is my thoughts as to the why. I may be wrong.
Unfortunately for John the fateful decision to try ice that night at the party meant he was also among those in the statistics that become addicted from the very first time.
Today anti-ice campaigners spruik in schools to try to educate kids as to the dangers. The catch cry being ‘ICE – not even once’… It’s the most harmful addictive substance known to man!
I could write a book on the painful memories and stressful events that occurred throughout the journey of John’s spiralling ice addiction and the lasting effects it has had on me and my family.
Despite what I personally endured due to my son’s addiction, emotionally, financially, mentally… I don’t blame my son for one minute, I blame the drug.
I feel sick every time I hear someone use the word “Druggie” because technically that was once my son and they usually say it with such anger and distaste. If they were in my shoes they would also know that ‘druggies’ are also humans and someone’s son or daughter.
My ‘Druggie’ was a beautiful lost young man, most likely angry at the world and in need of counselling who made a misguided, naïve decision to try ice.
What about all the other druggies out there? What is their story? What were they initially trying to escape from or forget about before they were caught up in the grips of addiction? What made them try ice?
What was the state of their mental health when they took drugs?
My son was no dummy either. He completed a Diploma and had a respectable career ahead of him. Did you know in fact that you can be high functioning and hold down a job and be seemingly normal to most outward appearances while on ice.
It’s only when you are not on it and “coming down” that the addict falls apart and needs more. The long-time users become more obvious to us all as they start to fit the profile many associate with ice use… sores on the face, weight loss, large pupils, agitation etc.
Of course once they are down the track and fully addicted and committed to the drug all morals and care for others also goes out the window.
The drug owns them and their life revolves around the drug. The person we once knew becomes lost and the drug takes over. To pay for ice you either need to steal, deal or prostitute yourself. Remember this when you read about another ‘druggie’ related crime. That druggie didn’t start out like that. What is their story?
If they finally hit rock bottom and want help, shouldn’t we applaud and provide facilities for them to get help.
Don’t their families deserve an end to the cycle as well?
Don’t we want to stop the violence and crime associated with drug use?
If the answer is yes, then let’s all get behind more facilities to cater for the epidemic that is gripping our community.
No other drug like this one has been on our doorstep before, the violence it can incite is truly frightening and its victims are everywhere.
Ice addicts, their families, emergency workers, health professionals and the community are all victims of the epidemic.
My son finally reached breaking point after a long and slow decline. Up to this point our family could only helplessly watch on.
All attempts to help had previously been met with denial, lies and aggression.
He had finally hit rock bottom when pulled over by police for the second time with Ice in his system. Faced with a long loss of license and inability to work, he finally broke down.
He went straight to his GP and admitted defeat. His GP referred him on to Bass Coast Health who were nothing short of amazing.
The counsellor there recommended Odyssey House in Lower Plenty as having great results but the catch was a three to four month waiting list. Luckily John found the determination to hang in there.
With a loving supportive family prepared to go through the hard yards with him and fight off outside influences, he did a home detox.
It was an incredibly stressful and painful time.
He also made it through this waiting period with the support of Bass Coast Health appointments. He entered Odyssey House just after Christmas and was there until September this year.
His family supported him through the program with fortnightly visits, letters and phone calls. He is now back with family, healthy and employed again and slowly regaining self-confidence.
My son had a team of supporters around him from the moment he put his hand up for help. He was lucky.
He had someone to wake him up and take him to appointments, to feed him and fight for him.
He made it through the waiting period and finally got into a program over two hours’ drive from home.
What about the addicts who have no family support to see them through long waiting lists and take them to appointments and do home detox?
What hope have they got? If we want ice use to lessen, crime to drop and people to get help then we have to have facilities ready in our communities for those wanting it.
I hope my story helps lifts the veil on ice addiction for some, and helps to encourage the community to fight for more facilities for families and their loved ones.
I also encourage anyone reading this who has an addiction not to be ashamed to ask for help if you want it.
You should only ever be proud of yourself if you ask for support to turn your life around for the better. Do it for you and your family. My hope for you is that you don’t endure long waiting lists and can find people to assist you until you can get into a program.