Jan grew up in a strong Irish Catholic family in Sydney. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse led to Jan picking up drugs at an early age, and by 14, she was aware she had a “problem” with substances such as marijuana, LSD and alcohol.
A gifted student, she stopped taking drugs in the final two years of high school, during year 11 and came in the top 5% of the state in her HSC exams.
Gradually however, after a stint at university, she began using substances again, gravitating towards alcohol and “powders”. She dropped out of uni and moved to the city, where she was introduced to heroin. Within a month or so of using heroin, she was dealing the drug with a partner. Arrests followed and within a few years she was at her first detox.
Jan spent many years in and out of detoxes and rehabs. Arrests increased and she found herself in prison briefly. Her addiction took over completely and she lived on the streets at times, working in prostitution and living a life of crime and break and enters, and seeking help from local drug and alcohol agencies and refuges. She went on a pharmacotherapy program three times, but to no avail.
In the last few years of Jan’s using, she became involved with Sydney’s underworld. After the death of a drug acquaintance, and the realisation that she would eventually end up with the same fate, she decided to try rehab as a last resort.
At 36 years of age, weathered and tired from addiction, she rang the rehabilitation centre.
Jan completed the whole program in the late 1990’s. “It was the rehabilitation program that helped me to finally relinquish the ‘street creature’ I’d become. I’m eternally grateful to the place — it gave me the capacity to rediscover those true aspects of myself that were submerged for so many years…. The parts of me that were hopeful and full of zeal and potential for a new life of abstinence and fulfilment…. The rehabilitation centre offered me a true foundation upon which to build the life I have today. Thanks guys!”
Jan is coming up to her 40th Birthday. She lives and works in northern NSW as a writer and painter. Her life is ‘wonderfully peaceful’ and she and her partner — who she loves dearly and believes to be the kindest man in the world (!!!) had their first child in July 2002.