I first tried meth in 2011 with a guy I met on a night out. I was already high on alcohol and ecstasy and was a casual user of those. We went back to his house with a bunch of his mates and he pulled out a glass pipe. I was drunk. I remember looking at it thinking ooh look at that, that’s shiny, let’s do that, and that’s where my addiction to meth began.
From there, what started off as using on the weekends, quickly progressed to using 4 days a week, to using 5 days a week. For 18-months we partied hard then in 2013 I found out I was pregnant with our son. As soon as I found out I was hapu I stopped using. I smoked cigarettes but stopped using drugs and alcohol. Throughout my pregnancy my partner was still using. I found it really hard to still have it around me, but I continued to abstain from using.
2-weeks after giving birth to our son I picked up the pipe and started using meth again. I remember one time being on the bed breastfeeding. My son was around 4-weeks old. I woke up and he was on the floor still swaddled and I remember thinking, how did he go from on me feeding, to being on the floor? I continued smoking meth while my baby was breastfed. 9-months later I found out I was pregnant again. I wasn’t going to keep her but something inside of me made me keep her. Again, I put down the pipe and stopped using drugs and alcohol. A week after giving birth to my daughter I picked up the pipe again. When my daughter was 4-weeks old I ended up with bell’s palsy in my face from the stress of having 2 kids and using meth. I couldn’t eat, drink, sleep, or anything, so I just used more meth to try and cover it up. The relationship with my children’s father ended but my addiction to meth continued.
I engaged with Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi addiction services and met with a worker, (GS), a couple of times but not to the point where my use had stopped or even slowed down. All of my whānau knew about my meth use. His (my children’s) whānau knew. Everyone around me knew I was using, then on Mothers’ Day in 2016, I was served with a stack of papers at my home. The police were at my door to uplift my children. I’d seen this happen in the movies but not in real life. I said to the police you can’t do that and their reply was something like “yeah we are”. I put my kids in the police car that day and day-to-day care was granted to their Aunty.
I barely knew GS but he was the first person to turn up and awhi me through the uplift of my children. I had only met him a couple of times but he grabbed me and wrapped his arms around me and just held me as I wailed for my kids. From there I just ticked boxes to my kids back. I stayed clean and did what was asked of me. I proved I was clean and the kids were returned to me after 7-months or so.
I never grew up with my father so once I had my kids back, I told their father to come back too. I had my family back. A week later, me and him celebrated with a bag a meth and our frequent use began again. My kids were living surrounded by drugs, violence, abusive and strangers in our home. 4-months later Oranga Tamariki turned up and I was told to voluntarily give the kids to them.
I spiraled out of control. My relationship with the kids father ended and I met a new guy who was gang affiliated. My house quickly became a place of drug deals. Men wearing all different colours in my house. Me being told to get in the room. I was fearful for my life. I had lost my kids. Lost my job. Lost control of my house and the ability to pay for my house, so I gave it all up and couch surfed with whoever had the next hit. There were times where I had nowhere to go, so I slept in my car.
I thought losing my kids was bad but now I was involved with gangs and had dug myself a deep hole that I couldn’t get out of.
On the 13th November 2017 I finally went rehab. I rang my kids Aunty when I was finally heading to rehab. I said to her, this is it, I’m going to rehab, see you in 3-months, and I remember hearing the disbelief in her voice as if to say, “yeah right”. GS and his co-worker (TF) took me to rehab and supported me the whole time I was there.
I graduated rehab and reconnected with the addiction services at Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi when I got out. Everybody is different, but for me to stay clean it meant connecting with as many services as possible. Building positive, healthy relationships and solid foundations to begin to heal and change the learnt behaviour, and that meant starting from the ground up. I engaged with Hamner clinic, therapists and counsellors, did parenting courses like Building Awesome Whānau and Incredible Years. I did as many women’s empowerment courses as I could find. Anything I could do to help implement healthier ways of learning into my life. Something I only realised a year and a half ago was, that rape was rape. That unconsented sex is rape. Realising that brought another layer of trauma for me to work through and journey through to heal from that also. I worked really hard at building myself up and setting really solid foundations for a year, just doing self-development stuff.
In 2021, I approached GS and the organisation that supported me through my addiction. I decided I wanted to pursue a career in peer support with lived experience in addiction and give back what has been given to me.
Today, my relationship with my children is flourishing. They love me. They get excited to see me. Life is amazing. They still live with their paternal Aunty and are surrounded by heaps of whānau which is beautiful. I look at it as co-parenting and I see my children regularly and I am consistent. Today, I am 4years and 3months clean, working fulltime as a whānau and peer support kaimahi in an AOD department and I am starting a Bachelor of Social Work degree at Bethlehem Institute of Technology.