Reformed addicts’ brave stories turning kids’ lives around
A TEENAGE girl raises her hand, in front of more than 100 of her peers, and bravely says that her mother is addicted to meth.
Another boy, aged just 15, opens up about using the insidious drug himself, and others come forward about how they've been taken off their drug-addicted parents.
This is the reality of the region's ice scourge, brought to light by children themselves after hearing first-hand experiences of those who've recovered, through Australian Anti Ice Campaign.
The non-government organisation travels to high schools to educate students about the dangers of ice, and this week met with 2200 Townsville high school students.
CEO Andréa Simmons, who has endured her own battle with meth, said the community was crying out for their help, and it showed.
"There's a lot of need (in Townsville)," she said.
"People are reaching out for help more here, because they don't know where to go."
One of the program educators, Ricki Stanley, 41, lost everything to meth, but now dedicated his life to stopping other young people from making the same mistakes he did.
The Townsville man started using when he was in his early 20s, and traded his family and children for the drug.
"There's things I've got to live with for the rest of my life because of my use," he said.
Mr Stanley was an addict for 14 years, and one day "came to my knees" and booked himself into rehab.
He got himself clean at the city's Salvation Army Rehabilitation Centre and built a new life in Townsville. He now works at the same centre as a support worker.
Mr Stanley's story is one of many shared with the students, as well as evidence-based research, which had a huge impact at the workshops this week.
The team shared a few of these interactions to the Townsville Bulletin, saying at almost every workshop, a student bravely spoke up and told their story.
From a 15-year-old who admitted to his mates he was using, to a grade eight girl who told the entire group her mum was a drug addict, meth did not discriminate.
Teachers were even blown away by the impact of the workshops after a student confided in them about how they'd been taken off their parents because of drugs.
On Thursday, some children had even been admitted into rehab after one of the workshops.
"Some of the kids' jaws drop. The reality is it's a hard truth for some people when you talk about this," Mr Stanley said.
"Kids get triggered because family or themselves are using, but we are always there, ready to talk to them, and lead them in the right direction.
"But one of the beautiful things is if these kids do have a mum or dad using, we let them understand that they still love them, but they're trapped by this drug.
"We help them, connect them to resources, and remind them they are not alone."
The organisation plans to set up a drop-in hub in Townsville, with the help of Rotary Club, and expand their team to be able to travel to more schools and share their message.
If you need help, call 1800 NO TO ICE, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Originally published as Reformed addicts' brave stories turning kids' lives around