Video: Ice addiction - Jack's story
When I first tried ice at 18, I was in a stereotypical stage of my life, I guess, where I was going through finding my identity, rebelling against my parents a little bit and, I guess, conventional thinking and questioning various different things. And I remember quite clearly, ice had just started to come out in a bit more prevalence, at that time.
It sounds strange to some people but anytime I've ever done something that I've liked, I've wanted to do it to the best and almost had this competitive attitude with other people. And that's what started to happen with me and my friends and drug use, we started to push the limits, and it almost became a bit of a competition about who could use more and different types of drugs, and all that kind of stuff. So that definitely played a big part into it turning into a more frequent thing and turning out of control.
Because it was so powerful and my dependence became so strong to it, it really brought me to my demise really quickly which was, actually, a good thing because I didn't go through years and years of suffering. But it was obviously a bad thing because I started to experience really negative consequences, really quickly. So not having any money and, I guess, I became increasingly desperate to get drugs and to get ice. And I started to push my moral boundaries, my day-to-day life started to fall apart, and I wasn't able to manage simple tasks like going to work. And all the different things that you just do in an average day I couldn't do anymore, because my life started to become solely about the getting and using of ice.
It took me a while, and it was a major function of my problem was this extreme denial that I had about my situation. And I think that's the really scary thing that happens with addiction, but for me with my ice use was that that abnormal and crazy situations in life became normal. I actually had a suicide attempt one night where I was hanging around people that had, basically, just come out of prison and the house was like a chemists. And I took a bunch of different drugs and actually, yeah, died in their house.
And then they left me in an alleyway just to die because they was scared of consequences. I was very lucky, I got taken to hospital, and revived, and I was in hospital for three days. But then what happened was it when I woke up and sort of came to, despite what had happened with those people leaving me in the alley and all that kind of stuff, I knew that they had drugs, and I went straight back to them to score.
And then once I use the drugs have walked away, that was one of the first times when I when, "Hold on, this is a real problem. You just had this experience where these people essentially left you the die and don't actually care about you. And because your need for drugs is so high, you're going back to those compromising positions and using with those same people three days later, that's crazy." And that was ... Yeah, it took situations like that for me to really realise how bad my problem was and that I needed help.
I was really lucky to have my family behind me who had done some research into rehab centres and things like that. And I'd spoken to different professionals before, but this time was really profound and unique for me because the person that I met, this time, had actually been for addiction, themselves, and had come out the other side. And it wasn't so much hearing their story that really gave me the hope, it was because that person was able to, intimately, described to me how I was thinking and feeling. And it completely blew my mind, because I'd never heard anyone talk like that before, and I thought I was the only one on the whole planet that thought the way and felt the way that I did.
And I guess, in that moment of hearing that and talking to that person, who was a professional as well as having that lived experience, really gave me this massive sense of hope that maybe it was possible in my life, to really change things up as well. In that programme, it was pretty much all day therapy, if you like, and educational workshops and presentations, and was medically assisted.
And so we would do individual counselling, group therapy, psychotherapy; lots of therapy which was incredibly challenging for me. Because as I said, that was all the stuff that I was running from, it actually had turned into this vicious cycle. So I would use drugs, do different things that I would regret, have lots of different mental health stuff happen, and all that stuff would build up as underlying problems for me.
So anytime I tried to stop using drugs, all that emotional baggage would come simmering to the surface. And I wasn't conscious of this at the time, but then my solution to make all that go away was using drugs. The recovery process for me, actually, was focusing on processing and dealing with all those underlying issues. And then from there, I went and stayed at a rehabilitation programme / supported accommodation. And I actually stayed there for 18 months, so all up, the process was nearly two years of me being in services and supportive environments.
I am extremely hopeful for the future, and I think it's something that we have to talk about more in the general conversation when we talk about these issues with addiction and other social problems in society. We tend to focus on the negative stuff a lot, and the really bad stuff that can happen, and we really forget about all the amazing things that can happen and can change a result of getting some help and getting some support; because it actually does happen to a lot of people.
That's the biggest problem that I see with change in Australia and in the addiction treatment space is not actually the services that are available, not actually people's attitudes, but definitely, I guess, the political conversation around it. And also, I think one of the key areas that really has to change and be addressed is the way that drugs and alcohol are reported on in the media. And the way that drug and alcohol problems and social issues are portrayed to people. I think, if that can be an area that is focused on the most, I think it's going to dramatically change the conversation in society around drugs and alcohol and treatment and have positive impacts on everyone.
For more information about ice, visit Cracks in the Ice