A new support service for drug addiction will soon be available in Rockhampton.
A new support service for drug addiction will soon be available in Rockhampton. John Gass

Hooked up to a machine, Sarah hopes others avoid her fate

FORMER ice addict Sarah Smith says she wouldn't be lying in a hospital bed there if there'd been a drug rehabilitation centre in Rockhampton 10 years ago.

The mother-of-two believes the $14.3 million residential rehabilitation centre planned for the city will change hundreds of lives. (Sarah's name has been changed by the Morning Bulletin to protect her privacy.)

"When you're an addict it doesn't just affect you, it affects your mum, your brother, and your whole family,” Sarah said.

Sarah's voice broke as thought of the pain she'd put her family through.

Her mum had tried to get her help just a couple years after she started using ice, but with no local services available, drugs became her daily habit for the next two decades.

"She even went to the police station and said, 'what can we do?',” Sarah said.

"But there was nothing available. There was no such thing as rehab programs.”

Sarah said the new rehabilitation centre plans brought hope to the users of Central Queensland and their families.

"One of my close friends' mums would do anything to see my friend better,” she said.

With a picc line inserted in her arm, Sarah described herself as one of the "lucky ones”.

"I have got help and I will never go back that way, but there are still so many people that need help,” Sarah said.

The 45-year-old shook her habit almost two years ago after spending two weeks at the Moonyah Rehabilitation Centre and Sheltered Workshop in Brisbane.

She said she couldn't have stopped using ice any other way.

"Without a rehab centre you cannot get away from it,” Sarah said.

"You can take away the drugs but if you can't go back to why you started using it's not going to work.”

Being able to stay on site at Moonyah was a tremendous help to Sarah, as she was able to isolate herself from the drug using community.

"You have to change everything you knew in your life - you have to start over,” she said.

"You need to build a new circle of friends, a new circle of interest, new hobbies and everything.”

She was only able to access help thanks to the support of her family, but Rockhampton's rehab centre would make help available to all.

"I know so many people that have four or five kids under the age of five and even if they wanted help they have nothing they can do,” she said.

The facility will have 32 beds for residential rehabilitation allowing people to stay on-site while accessing treatment for drug and alcohol use.

Eight beds have been allocated for the withdrawal stage and detox treatment, and two family units will be available for people to fight their addiction alongside their families.

Walking through the door will be the hardest part for addicts, according to Sarah, she urged addicts to seek help.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me - it saved my life,” she said.

"If I didn't get off it when I did I would've died.”

Sarah is in hospital fighting an infection stemming from a part of her hand where she used to inject ice.

Sarah has fought "infection after infection” because of her drug use, but she says fighting the battle would have been impossible if she was still using ice.

"If I got the infection I have now, back then, I wouldn't have survived it,” she said.

Sarah is still studying a Certificate IV in Public Health, a Certificate IV in Drugs and Alcohol, and Community Studies in order to use her dire experiences to help others.

Her dream job is to help people overcome their addictions.

After being clean for two years, Sarah said her family was coming back together and she was learning how to live again after being an addict for the majority of her life.