Crystal methamphetamine (ice) can be a tough drug to stop. It’s a lot easier with help, but fear, shame and stigma often deter people from seeking the support they need. QNews spoke to Rosie and her Mum, Gloria, about their experience with ice. Rosie previously developed a dependency on ice over six years. But with the support of Gloria, her family and reconnecting with her Culture, Rosie has found her way home. Rosie shares her empowering story, highlighting the importance of family and the reconnection back into her Culture as vital for her path to recovery. Help is available, and recovery is possible.
Rosie and Gloria live in a regional Queensland city. Rosie is a First Nations woman, a mother and a lesbian.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
Rosie: I never realised ice was a problem for me until I started to get close to another woman. I soon realised I wanted a relationship with Narelle. But she asked one day why my kids lived with Mum. It might sound stupid, but until that moment, it never seemed an issue. I realised then I had a problem and needed a way out. So, I risked everything and told Narelle the truth.
The kids used to stay with their Nan on weekends when I partied, and as I got sillier and sillier, they ended up just staying there. I did things that endangered my kids and I lost my job. By the time they moved in permanently with Mum, my kids no longer trusted me.
I must be the luckiest woman in the world because Narelle asked if she could help. We moved in together, ready for love to conquer all. But that never happened. Much as I wanted the relationship, I wanted the drug more. And I couldn’t cope with the headaches, vomiting and depression. We couldn’t do it alone. After about three months of me promising to never use ice again, but constantly sneaking off and doing it, Narelle decided things had to change. She suggested we ask Mum for help. The three of us sat down for a yarn. I think Mum was waiting for it.
Gloria: I knew one day she’d ask for help. I did what I could before then. I helped out with the kids and then eventually took them full time. But I knew nothing about drugs except that they were destroying my little girl. You just don’t expect it to happen in your family.
Rosie: Narelle and I did our best on our own for three months and got nowhere. I needed a game-changer, so I went into residential rehab for three weeks. I reckon I cried for the first week. But then I started eating properly and they encouraged me to get some routine back in my life. Three weeks without using made me think I could do this permanently. The counsellors warned it wouldn’t be easy. Ice is a difficult drug to give up. But rehab gave me the break and the professional help I needed. I couldn’t access the drug and I was away from the mob I did it with.
If I could do it for three weeks, it meant giving up forever was possible. When I came out, I attended a health service for medical help and started going to group sessions for people with drug dependence. I needed that extra support from people who understood what I was going through. Narelle was a social drinker, and Mum’s never touched a drop in her life. They struggled to understand why I needed ice.
We thought our problems were all over
Gloria: When Rosie came out of rehab, we knew she was serious about getting better and we thought our problems were all over. In a way, they were just beginning. She relapsed, over and over. Sometimes we knew why. Something happened to upset her. Other times it came out of nowhere. The one thing we noticed was that grog was always involved. I talked to Narelle and she agreed they needed alcohol out of their lives.
Rosie: Eventually, Narelle and I both stopped drinking. Unlike other ice users I’ve met, I was never a heavy drinker. But every single time I relapsed, it started with alcohol. I’d have a drink and whether I was happy or sad, I’d end up depressed. I knew what would make me feel better. I’d take off and score and be back to square one.
Gloria: Rosie also wanted to move on from the mob she used to hang around. It was too easy for her to access ice from some of her old friends. The counsellors told her it was important to have things to do. She needed to learn to live without ice. She loves music and loves going out bush to country. We have family jam sessions now. We cook up a big feed, and everyone comes over with all the kids and the old folks. They bring their instruments. Rosie gets out her guitar, and we have a great time.
Rosie: Leaving ice wasn’t a picnic. There were some rough patches along the way, but it’s made such a difference.
It was worth it. To have a job again, to feel loved, to spend time with my kids, my partner, my Mum, my cousins and not feel everyone watching me, wondering what trouble I’ll cause next. It feels like nothing’s missing in my life now. The kids live with me but still spend time with their Nan. We come over, have a big feed, and join in the sing-a-long. Then we all go bush. It was worth it. Between Mum, Narelle, and the kids, I found a way out. It took three years and I still go to counselling and the support group because I don’t ever want to risk losing what I have again. It took my kids a long time to trust me again. They watched me get it together and then lose it over and over.
Gloria: It’s funny. Years ago, when Rosie told me she liked women, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. But Narelle is the best thing that ever happened to her. Rosie realised she was worth loving. Now, the kids have their Mum back, and I have my girl back. It was worth the effort.
Help is available, and recovery is possible.
People who use ice can and do recover.
If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drug use, contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (Adis), a free 24 hour, 7-day anonymous and confidential service on 1800 177 833. Family Drug Support also provides support for people impacted by the alcohol or other drug use of a family member. Phone 24 hours, 7 days a week on 1300 368 186. Alternatively, visit qld.gov.au/icehelp for information.
QNews thanks Queensland Health’s Ice Help campaign for their partnership on this article.
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