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Whether you’ve struggled with problematic drug use yourself, or been forced to watch a loved one struggle, sharing your story can humanise the commentary around people who use drugs, give yourself a voice, educate and bring hope and encouragement to others that may be struggling with similar issues.

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My kind, intelligent and compassionate son died at age 41 of a drug overdose after being discharged from a Psychiatric Unit where he had been admitted for his own protection. We knew hewas not fit for discharge and begged the psychiatrist to put another 3 day section on him. We had watched him and knew that in another few days we could reason with him, but he was discharged.

He used Heroin to control his anxiety and soon became both physically and emotionally dependent on this drug. His belief that he could not get by without had the intensity of a psychotic delusion.
He was trying to study Marketing at University and enter a private detox/rehab unit but was to earn his place there by ringing daily.

He died on day 3 after his discharge from the hospital unit. When I informed the Detox/Rehab that this had occurred the admitting nurse said “Oh we did have a bed and could have taken him, but wanted to see how serious he was.”


I started drinking and smoking at about 12 years of age on a regular basis – mostly weekends and mostly to the point of experiencing blackouts. Soon after I began smoking dope. By the age of 16 and leaving school I was drinking daily and taking whatever drugs I could whenever I could. At 15 I remember a kid giving us tablets his mother was taking – no idea what they were – but took 6 of them and spent 3 days vomiting bright green fluids which I kept secret from my parents on a 2 week holiday to the Gold Coast. In 1979 I Turned 17 and obtained a drivers license, and after 2 months lost it for drunk driving (.17). Couple weeks later , caught driving again (.21) and had drugs in my system too – lost the license for life absolutely. Few weeks later I stole a car, was caught – or rather found in the bush near the wrecked car and admitted to hospital – no blood tests taken , but charged with DUI / DWD and unlawful use and placed into a Salvation Army rehab in Brisbane for 2 months awaiting court . I was then sentenced to mandatory prison 2 months each charge. Left prison and with my new found circle of friends used narcotic for the first time on the day of my release. At this time I contracted HepC by sharing needles.

A few months later I took my mothers company car during a blackout , crashed it severely and left it’s number plate at the scene. They traced the car to mums boss who then visited my mother in the early hours and on his way found the car near my mums home and soon after found me in a cemetery adjacent to the wrecked car. Within an hour I’d taken a large dose of serepax and rushed hospital. I was then admitted to hospital followed by psych centre.

The police attended and said if I went to a rehab and completed the program they’d pretend they’d never found me, or if I preferred they will arrest me and I’d probably go to gaol again for up to 5 years. I went to the rehab . It was WHO’S based in Goulburn and they used sleep depravation and confrontation groups. I was 18. I completed that program and after leaving I went to AA meetings, obtained a job etc, but was faced with a lifetime of using public transport. I lived in Sydney at this time and at an AA meeting I bumped into a man I’d been in the who’s Program with. He had himself and 2 others thinking about starting NA. I was invited to come to the first NA meeting to be held at Waverly and I attended. I immediately became a member of the group and we met another fellow with a meeting at camperdown. So then we were 2. Once 6 meetings were set up we established a service structure and I took care of literature production amongst other things. I became secretary of the camperdiwn meeting and as we were getting 40 or more people attending we needed a bigger venue, so I found the Glebe town hall. Within a year we would have 120 people attending every Friday night. I ended up on the board of directors of who’s for 5 years after the administration and staff had changed ). I deterred businesses with $500 that ended up turning over multi millions and at 25 I married. Businesses failed and succeeded but

Throughout my life attending NA was paramount and now 40 years later I still attend NA and do my best to carry the message of recovery whenever the chance is presented. I have two grown up children. I’m no longer a burden to our society, indeed I consider myself and others doing as I am to be assets to our community. A long way from where I came from.

So many people, friends, have died as a result of their drug use and alcoholism. Lives are smashed and families torn apart. My close friends are x prostitutes, x drug dealers and people our society wouldn’t give the give the time of day to. Most all have a history of childhood abuse and neglect.

In finding acceptance by others rather than being constantly ostracized and victimized by the inadequate systems we have in place to this day, thousands and thousands of wonderful people have found a life they never thought possible for themselves. Addressing the hurts of their past and resolving issues that made drug and alcohol use not only attractive but essential for them.


I grew up in a very dis-functional family in the western suburbs of Sydney.There was a lot of drinking and I was exposed to alcohol at a very early age.You could say that this was my first exposure to drugs.Due to a drunken incident I was sent to a boys home for a number of years until I reached 17yrs old and legally allowed to be transferred to an adult prison.I will not go into the details of what it was like but I will say that I was abused and very frightened for most of the time.It was while inside prison that I first tried heroin.The effect that it had was one of being in a safe place and untouchable by the chaos that surrounded me.I liked it and I liked the feelings in gave me.Upon my release I drifted from one meaningless job to another and from one substandard place of residence to another.I could never shake the feelings I had for myself no matter where I was employed or lived.I found refuge in drugs, they took away these feelings of loneliness, despair and a general hatred of myself and the things that I had experienced in my life.I returned time and time to heroin and the way it made me feel.I continued to take drugs for the next 30 odd years on and off.On more than off. I could not stop no matter what good was in my life and those times were as rare as hens teeth.Addiction bought nothing but despair, destruction and desertion.Thinking back I think that all this came about because of the laws for drug use, the amount of money and time spent in my the shame of being a drug addicted what I had to do to obtain my daily drug supply. I now find myself in my 60s and on an OST programme.My drug days are finally behind me and I want to devote my life to treatment and the laws surrounding drugs and the people who use them.I am in 100% agreement with the aims and objectives of the Fairtreatment Campaign.


Hi my name is Liz and I am a recovered alcoholic. My journey started many years ago. I started drinking when I was 15, stopped when I got married the first time and had 2 children, one of which had died at 5 months, my 1st husband was a chronic alcoholic, eventually I sort help Al-Anon, they taught me so much about not taking the blame for his drinking and not accepting unacceptable behavior, also ‘not to do for the alcoholic what they can do for themselves’ after 9 years of DVA I divorced him. It didn’t take me long to find and marry my second husband who was also a chronic alcoholic, but instead of leaving him, I drank with him, it really just sneaks up on you without even realizing I was drinking far too much and too often (daily), alcohol – it’s cunning, baffling and powerful. That marriage finally ended after 13 years, he wasn’t physically abusive but psychologically he destroyed me. I knew in my heart that there has to be something better than this abuse, pubs and drinking. I fell into the doors of AA on the 8th Nov 1991, through the help of the wonderful older sober members, I got sober One Day At A Time. Following this wonderful 12 Step program has given me so much, my life back for a start, I married for the 3rd and final time to a wonderful caring Christian man who is 48 years sober, and we walk this life together with God at the center of our relationship. In sobriety with his encouragement, I went back to school (Anglican Counselling College Armidale/Inverell Campus & TAFE Inverell Campus) and completing Diploma’s in Counselling and also Community Welfare. And a Cert IV in Alcohol and other drugs through Booth College in Sydney. I have completed training as a Child Protection Case Worker through Dept. Comm. Services now Family and Community Services. All this was achieved in sobriety. The Promises of the AA 12 Step Program have come true for me and many others. I have tried the controlled drinking road, but to no avail. Doing the 12 Steps and talking to other alcoholics was the only way for me. I thank God every day for my life today. There is so much to share about the freedom being sober has given me. Thank you for letting me share part of my story.