'I too was afraid of the unknown' drug use changes mum
YEPPOON mother Debbie Ware's view of addicts changed the day she found out one of them was living in her home.
She thought addicts were the scary hooded figures broadcast on her television screen, but she quickly learned they were people suffering illness when she discovered her child's secret habit.
"You definitely look at people different now being through it,” Mrs Ware said.
"You look at a person now as having an illness. It's not about them being druggies.”
Discovering her child's illness sent her through a range of emotions - she was devastated.
"You get mad, you get upset, you try to save them and you tell them what to do - you go through all the parent steps,” she said.
But when she ran into a woman who claimed to "have something in common” her life changed.
Both women had loved ones suffering addiction. The commonality inspired her to found ICESUP, a Ice Support service for families with loved ones who are affected by methamphetamine.
She started the service three years ago and it is now part of her daily routine.
"I now know that families who have not been affected see the images and behaviours depicted in the media as the norm and want nothing to do with them,” Mrs Ware said.
While support to families affected by ice was initially their priority, their focus has moved to providing assistance to families touched by any addiction and also sharing their experiences with others.
ICESUP focuses on disseminating information to not just Central Queensland families but people in need across Australia.
"We understand first hand the difficulties of acquiring certain information when suddenly thrust into what can be a very distressful journey of trying to save our loved ones,” she said.
"We now want to explain the myths of this stereotype and the merits of a residential rehabilitation facility in our town.
"The ads on television mostly feature people in the midst of "Ice Rage" smashing up hospitals, and abusing their families and front line workers.”
She said in the beginning she was in favour of the advertisements, but her experience has taught her how those advertisements are just the stereotype of an addict.
"Before my own family's personal experience I too was afraid of the unknown, I too looked at people with substance use issues without much empathy,” she said.
"Today, I have a whole different outlook and see people with all kinds of addictions who need help, some more than others.
"I have seen people with addiction at their lowest and others turning the corner and finding recovery.”
Mrs Ware actively avoided Rockhampton's rehabilitation centre debate, choosing to remain on middle ground - but she wants to use her experience to motivate others to become supporters of the project.
"An out of control methamphetamine user is not who a person choosing recovery is,” she said.
"Another myth is that all substance users are in trouble with the law or have been to jail. This is also not true.
"The majority of people using alcohol and other drugs are functional members of the community.”
She said the community would play a vital role in the success of the rehab centre.
"Successful recovery also needs community support,” she said.
"Vulnerable people when made to feel guilty for their addiction not only have to fight the addiction but also have to deal with the guilt and the shame they feel when constantly criticised by members of their families and people in the wider community.”
She urged members of the community to support the rehabilitation facility no matter where it went, because the facility would save lives.