I am a rehabilitated drug addict, on an average day I would smoke $50 worth of marijuana and swallow at least 50 valiums, but I used whatever I could get my hands on. I was an addict for 24 years.
My addiction started after I was gang raped by 5 men, then a few months later abducted at knife-point and raped again, I was 17 at the time. I was also sexually abused at ages 5 and 6. I never told anyone as I was too scared. All through high school I was teased and humiliated by guys, I never had a boyfriend. I couldn't cope with my emotional pain and the anger or the memories, so I used drugs to stop from feeling my emotions and remembering all that had happened.
I tried lots of substances, speed and cocaine which led me to crime and at 18 I found myself in a Detention Centre. I was in and out of jail for 2 years, until at 20 I had an unplanned pregnancy. I thought a baby would change my life, and he did, however I was still addicted to drugs, I thought I could hide it. I thought I could still be a good mum and use.
I met my partner 2 years later and after 7 years we had a baby girl followed by a baby boy. My partner was totally oblivious to the extent of my drug abuse. I couldn't live with the emotional pains of life unless I was using marijuana and had swallowed least 50 valiums a day, but my tolerance was so built up, when things got too much for me I would need to take overdoses of 150 valiums, which always led me to the hospital casualty and usually a stint in the psychiatric ward would follow. In the last 5 years I've had over 60 hospital admissions.
For the past 5 years I have been trying to rehabilitate myself because DOCs stepped in and took my children from me for 4 months, I got them back and things went OK for about 18 months when I relapsed again, I managed to hide my drug taking for a further 2 years, however I overdosed and ended up in hospital again. I lost everything — AGAIN!! (3 years ago), my children were placed with foster carers by DOCs, I had to sell our horses, give away our pets, I was evicted from our home and my car re-possessed — I became bankrupt and homeless in a women’s refuge. Over the course of 6 months I did an 8 week drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with counselling and my children were being restored to my care. I had them back 5 days a week and was just about to gain full custody when I got a devastating letter in the mail. Medicare had 'noticed' that within a 2 month period (5 months prior to date, now June 06) I had visited 28 doctors and obtained 62 prescriptions for valium and that all relevant doctors and authorities had been notified. I knew DOCs would come and take my children again. I rang the foster carers and told them they had better come and pick up my children because I didn't want DOCs to come. I was devastated. I had tried to rehabilitate myself but I didn't have the self-esteem or the confidence to believe I could be successful in the long-term, I told myself it would be too hard, so in actual fact I didn't really try that hard, I just gave everyone the impression I was trying.
That night, after the children were taken away, I walked over to the local shopping centre rooftop carpark and rang the foster carers threatening to jump if they didn't bring my kids back home. Within minutes there were 20 police there, they tackled me down to the ground I ended up in the psych ward again. DOCs then decided to place my children into permanent care until they were each 18 years of age with visitation for just 1 hour bi-monthly! I was devastated! I thought I was a good parent. I never hit them, I was kind and loving, positive and encouraging, I praised them, I cuddled them and read them stories every night. I gave them everything they wanted, bought them everything, took them everywhere, spent all my time with them, it was nothing for me to spend $1000 on a birthday party. But this was not good enough DOCs said I was emotionally neglecting my children, because I was constantly stoned while I did parent them. Despite my addiction, I loved my children more than anything in this world, they are my world. Now my world was empty. My doctor had placed me on a valium reduction regime months earlier, but DOCs didn't believe me because I had lied, deceived and manipulated them throughout the entire restoration. I tried to explain to DOCs that I was in active addiction then and that's what addicts do, but to DOCs "once an addict, always an addict". I was determined to get my kids back whether they were placed in permanent care or not, I just couldn't give them up so easily.
I detoxed for 3 weeks and then resided at rehabilitation service for another 3 months. However I couldn't cope with the emotions that the group therapy brought up and was discharged, deemed inappropriate for their services. I was given another chance, however, I relapsed and 'disappeared' from the rehab last Christmas day I couldn't cope with Christmas day without my children and the thought of never being able to spend Christmas with them again. Five days later I woke up in a hospital psych ward with absolutely no memories whatsoever. I experienced a drug induced psychosis. Apparently the police picked me up after numerous calls from the public saying I was knocking on doors 'lost' and 'looking for stolen pot plants'. I was absolutely horrified. It was the wake-up call I needed. I knew I didn't want to take drugs anymore, I was too scared to and I knew I wanted my kids back. I knew I had to change my life. I decided that DOCs were not going to keep my babies until they were 18. No-one can ever love them like I do, they were coming home. A lot of people said I'd never make it, I was wasting my time I'd never change. I wanted to prove them wrong.
Rehab wasn't for me, so I started my own rehabilitation program from home attending various groups, courses and counselling in my local community, I got on the phone and rang around all the services and info lines looking for anything that would help me. I started taking buprenorphine on a long-term maintenance program, it stopped me craving drugs and made me feel satisfied. I had a dual-diagnosis, I was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, so I not only had drug issues I had mental health issues to deal with as well. I knew I couldn't cope with my emotions so I began an intense therapy group where I learnt to apply the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy to my life, I have learnt to understand my thoughts, feelings and emotions and have developed a value enhanced positive bahaviour pattern, I also attended a psychological counselling session weekly. I was so successful in my efforts at therapy I was asked to speak at a Conference on acceptance and commitment therapy last year where I shared my life story and how I had turned my life around in just 8 months. Also I have managed to maintain my abstinence and my motivation through attending SMART recovery meetings (acronym for Self Management And Recovery Training), SMART was so successful for me, others began to look up to me and I became a role-model and then I began to facilitate our group each week with the supervision of a psychologist (I'm actually just about to undertake an official Facilitators Training program, with the hope of starting a new group). It's a weekly support group were people who have addictive behaviours can come along and help each other through their own personal experiences, members are able to obtain a SMART life-skills hand-book to also help them, throughout the rest of their week. SMART is based on the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
I'm very proud of my achievements and abstinence. I also attended trauma counselling sessions in order to deal with my past abuse issues, the route cause of my addiction and become a survivor of my abuse and not a victim anymore. I also did anger management, stress management and self-esteem courses. I have been drug-free for 22 months and I have changed every aspect of my life, everything from my hair-style and the way I dress, to my attitudes and beliefs. My home is immaculately tidy, I'm managing financially, I don't even smoke cigarettes anymore and my swearing is well.... almost ceased. I am a totally different person my self-esteem and confidence have reached peaks I never knew possible. I love life and I'm so excited about the future.
I'm now studying for my Diploma in Counselling and have passed 9 of 22 units & passed my Major in Child Development & Practical Parenting. I'm also at TAFE studying Drug and Alcohol Cert IV, then I intend to complete a Diploma in Welfare, I want to become a drug and alcohol counsellor so I can help other people change their lives and 'live' again. I was once a burden on the community, now I want to give back to the community. Despite all this DOCs still do not have enough faith in me yet. Despite their attitude I applied to the family court to have my children returned to my care. My rehabilitation efforts have finally been recognised & my children will be coming home soon, I finally 'made it', I finally beat my addiction and no-one or nothing is going to stop me from enjoying the rest of my life. I just turned 40 and they say life begins at 40, well, my life truly has just begun, but I am so much wiser from my life experience. My kids wanted to come home and nobody but me could make that happen and my ultimate goal is not only to remain abstinent but to make it up to my kids and teach them through example as a role model they will love and respect.
My advice to anyone who wants to turn their life around is to first set your goal, have something specific to aim for, if something fails or doesn't work, try something else. Never lose sight of your goal, don't think about how long it will take you to get there, you only have to get through today, worry about tomorrow when it comes, use the services out there, there is plenty of people out there who will support you in your efforts. Remember it's not about feeling better, but getting better at feeling, emotions are there to alert you that something is not quite right, learn to live with them. Remember it is only you that can make it happen, if you fall, get up again, never give up. The best way to tell the future, is to create it.