Interview with a young ice addict

Shoalhaven ice addict’s habit formed at local high school

From the South Coast Register, 2 July 2015

CHILDREN in Years 7 and 8 were selling ice at a local high school, according to a former student who is battling his long-term addiction.

The young man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was “shouted” his first fix when he was around 13, although he can’t be certain because his addiction interferes with his memory.

“After that I sold it in school. We use to get the drugs from dealers hanging around the back oval.”

The young man said kids now get the ice from dealers away from the school in the morning, sell it at school during the day and bring the profits back to the dealers after school, where they get their cut.

“I’m pretty sure most of the young sellers were doing it just for money, at least at first.”

The young man said he became a frequent user when he was 15. During the hour-long interview with the Register it was apparent the years of addiction had taken a heavy toll on him, from his unsteady hands to his affected memory.

“All my mates were doing it, so I did too,” he said. “I still won’t do it on my own, even if I have ice on me. I wait until I’m with someone else who’ll use it.”

He said he smoked cigarettes and marijuana, but never really got into alcohol.

“But ice was a huge thing at my high school when I was there. It’s always been easy to get in Nowra, but now it’s everywhere. I can stand on a corner in Sydney and people will just come up to me and offer it to me.”

Tracy, the young man’s mother, said she and his father mistook the first signs of his addiction for teenage rebelliousness.

“After he left school to start an apprenticeship, his attitude changed noticeably.”

The young man said he used it “full-on” for three years, every day and every night.

About a year ago he was picked up by police after trying to kill himself by running into heavy traffic at Warilla.

“Police contacted his father and me, and we rushed up to get him from the Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre near Campbelltown,” Tracy said.

“On the drive back from Sydney he reached out to us. We tried to get him a place in rehab, but there was nothing available for three weeks. He stayed with his dad for nearly two weeks and then disappeared. The next day the rehab place contacted us to say they had a place.

“They were a day too late.”

The young man said he was under house arrest and was not supposed to leave his father’s house.

“But when Dad left for work I’d go out, and one day just left town.”

Tracy said since then he has only been in touch intermittently.

“We get a phone call now and then, but he’d sell his phone for ice if he had one, or it would be stolen from him by another user.

“They were just quick calls, but at least it told us he was alive. We kept on waiting for the call from the police telling us they’d found his body in the gutter.”

The young man said he was in Wollongong doing ice.

“I came back three days ago. I get intermittent counselling at Crossroads or headspace Nowra.

“I want to get a job, not go into rehab. I just want to work.”

Tracy disagrees. “Work puts too much temptation in his way. He shouldn’t get a job until he’s well along the path to rehabilitation. Because of his addiction, his mind hasn’t properly developed and he’s easily led astray.”

Tracy said another problem was that unless he’s dry for a while, rehab centres are reluctant to take addicts.

Tracy stresses that the recent advertisements seen on television about ice addiction were no exaggeration.

“Users get very violent. My son once threatened to stab me in the neck.”

The young man said ice gives him a brilliant adrenalin rush.

“But I get really angry when I’m coming off it. Extremely violent. I’ll do anything to get more ice.”

Tracy said the government needed to do a lot more in the area of drug rehabilitation.

“Victims like my son are being left behind. Schools need to take more action to prevent trafficking; maybe kids need to be searched or school grounds constantly patrolled. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers.”

A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Education said departmental and police records showed do drug related incidents at the school concerned for the previous two years.

“Any involvement with illegal drugs is not tolerated in NSW public schools, and schools are expected to report illegal behaviour to police,” the spokesperson said.

“Schools in NSW continue to be one of the safest places for children and young people in any community.”

The spokesperson said principals, teachers and support staff had access to an extensive range of professionals to assist them in teaching students about drug and alcohol education.

“The Drugs in Schools Policy sets our requirements for schools to plan and implement appropriate responses to drug-related incidents.

“The policy emphasises prevention through drug education and safe and supportive school environments.”

Tracy said ice addiction was an epidemic.

“If something isn’t done, Nowra will be turned into a war zone,” she said.

Tracy’s son turned 18 on Thursday.