Recovering from 17 years of Ice addiction: Renae’s story

Renae* has been supported through the Samaritans Recovery Point service in Newcastle. Renae spent 17 years addicted to Ice and is now two years clean thanks to her resilience, strength and the support she received from the team at Samaritans Recovery Point.

Renae shared her story with us.

TRIGGER WARNING: Readers are advised that the following story contains references to domestic and family violence.

We had a good life. He worked in the mines then owned his own business. We had so much disposable income it was easy to be meth addicts. He had his job and I was the stay at home mum, it looked from the outside to be really ok. As much as there was red flags with all the domestic violence we had, that would be forgotten once we got high.

When you’re so entrenched in addiction and it’s all you know, you just keep going. I don’t know how I lived such a terrible existence for 17 years. I just went through the motions.

Because I’d had abuse for so long, it became normal to me. He didn’t like the fact I had a lot of friends, there’d be this level of jealousy that became pretty deadly. If stuff started to fall apart or he hit me in front of the kids, I’d ring someone to come over with me because I knew it was going to end in tragedy.

The level of shame I feel now for the life I put my children through is absolute. These girls were taken away from their father at gunpoint while he was in psychosis driving at a police station trying to hit a policeman. At the time they were 5 and 8. Really young. I wasn’t going to get them back because I was a drug addict. I couldn’t go a day without using needles. But I stopped using drugs that day. I threw myself into Samaritans Recovery Point and I came here 5 days a week.

The most valuable thing I’ve learned is emotional regulation – I learnt it through TAME, a group I did here. I was so angry and so ready to fight anyone, all the time. I think that came from having a DV relationship for so long.

I’m nearly two years sober. It’s taken a long time to be proud of that because I was so ashamed of everything that happened. My parents didn’t talk to me, I had a brother who was disgusted in me, my grandparents didn’t understand, every friend I had wasn’t a friend they were a drug acquaintance. Having nobody and feeling that level of grief and shame and anger and disappointment and hurt and broken heartedness, and having to reflect on all this stuff to get myself better, to get myself into a position to get my kids back – it was beyond hard work. It was the fight of my life.

Linking in with Samaritans was the best thing I ever did. The day I got the girls back, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. To be able to tell Helen and Lou [from Samaritans Recovery Point], who were the two people that didn’t leave me on my own, that never let me fall over, that never dismissed how I felt or how hard this process was for me. The women that became my mums. To be able to come into Recovery Point and sit them down and tell them that all their hard work had paid off. To be able to say we – not me – but we as a collective did what everyone thought was impossible. It felt unrealistic because I’ve never achieved something like that in my life.

I didn’t know that I could be the person that I am today. I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t think life could be good. I heard stories of other people doing it but I thought I was too far gone. But I did it and I’m so proud.

Now I advocate for people who have lost their kids and I mentor people through addiction. I’m studying certificate 4 in Community Services to be a support worker. It’s a big change.

I think giving back is really important. It feels almost required because there’s nobody here that I can name off the top of my head that I know is nearly two years sober. And I want to be that person. The amount of energy and love that I get from being here [at Recovery Point] and helping other people and having other people aspire to the level of sobriety I have is phenomenal. It gives me so much happiness. I want to work here!

One of my biggest strengths after being sober for this long would be the positive influence I can have on someone else. After living the life I’ve lived, and surviving it, the most invaluable thing I can pass onto somebody is to be there and to listen. To say to them that if I can focus and come out of it and be the person I am, then they can too. This doesn’t have to be the ending. They can get better, because I got better.

Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling service 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.


*A stock image and an alias name has been used.