Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

The uncounted victims of ice addiction

Echuca family speaks out about ice and the effects it has on a family.

RUTH CLAYTON February 5, 2013 4:29am

Kellie* used to think drug users were dead beats, but not anymore.

She can only feel sympathy for them, and for their families, whose lives are torn apart by bad choices of a loved one.

That is because her own family is paying severely for the choices made by her brother Alex*, who is only in his twenties and is facing the consequences of an ice addiction which began mid last year.

He is in jail, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and has lost the trust of family and friends.

The family, who live in Echuca, did not wish to be identified but wanted to speak out if it could help others.

Alex now is a stark contrast to the young man Kellie described as typical and popular before ice.

‘‘He was great, everyone loved him,’’ Kellie said.

‘‘It really is the devil.’’

Her brother’s journey to ice addiction was a slow progression.

He started smoking marijuana at 15.

He was what many would consider a recreational drug-user on weekends.

He was on other drugs, including speed, for several years before he even tried ice.

‘‘Like a lot of people, you can probably imagine the progression from that (marijuana) to something else like speed, and of course alcohol is in there as well,’’ Alex’s dad Terry* said.

‘‘It can escalate.

‘‘We knew he used to take speed, but it wasn’t as devastating as ice.’’

Alex started using ice in May 2012, first smoking it and later injecting it.

It was obvious from the outset that Alex was on icehe lost his full-time job, would lie for money, use anyone or anything to get money, stole from others and took out a large bank loan.

He was depressed, paranoid, agitated and lost weight.

‘‘Ice completely takes away your morals, your sense of right and wrong,’’ Terry said.

‘‘And it makes them do things they would never do in a million years.’’

Terry said it was impossible to be a recreational user of ice.

‘‘Once you’re on ice, it’s game over, that’s it,’’ he said.

‘‘People shouldn’t ever try ice with the idea that, ‘I can just do this sometimes’.

‘‘Because you can’t do it sometimes.’’

And, according to Terry, ice is ‘‘easy’’ to obtain in Echuca and surrounding areas, so Alex had no problem accessing the drug.

But, for the past few weeks, while Alex has been in jail for crimes relating to his addiction, he has been on detox.

His emotional and mental status is now stable.

‘‘He looks alert, he looks healthy. He’s happy, and he says, ‘This is the best I’ve felt in six years’,’’ Terry said.

But there is a difference between detox and rehabilitation, and Terry believes every recovering addict needs ongoing support.

‘‘Detox is simply withdrawal of the drug, making them unavailable to the person,’’ he said.

‘‘But rehabilitation is obviously required for all recovering addicts because it addresses all the other reasons why they took drugs in the first place.’’

Terry is hopeful Alex will be rehabilitated after he is released from jail.

The family has seen first-hand the devastation ice has on lives, no matter what socio-economic status.

‘‘It’s not like he was disadvantaged and on welfare,’’ Terry said.

‘‘It can affect anyone, we’re a good family.’’

*Not their real names

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