A toddler's life up-ended by mother's ice addiction
A NORTHERN Rivers grandmother has shared the emotional ordeal of watching two of her young adult children almost succumb to the drug ice.
Last year the Lismore woman, Sarah*, was forced to take informal custody of her four-year-old grandaughter, whose mother Nikki was exposing to a traumatic cycle of drug abuse and police intervention.
"The grandaughter was the one who suffered the most through this," Sarah said, " she wasn't neglected physically but emotionally she suffered serious damage.
"The first couple of months when she was staying with me, just the behavioural patterns and the stuff that she told me was just horrific.
"This little kid every time she heard a police siren would go and hide under the bed because mummy was going to get arrested."
"In the end the only thing I could do was protect my granddaughter."
Tough love approach
In what she described as a "tough love" approach, Sarah liaised with local police for several months in an attempt to get both her addicted daughter and son arrested and convicted so they could qualify for a fast-tracked drug rehabilitation program.
It was tricky, because the court would often grant them bail and adjourn their cases.
"Every one of (Joe's) petty crimes... everything that we thought was bad enough for them to lock him up to get him straight enough, the Magistrate would just say... 'it's not enough... self bail, self bail, self bail'."
"He was never actually facing what he was supposed to be facing."
Ice rage incident
In the end it took an ice rage incident in which Joe allegedly threatened another ice user with a knife and vandalised his sister's home to get the court to prioritise the case.
But in order to qualify for the Merit program - Magistrate's Early Intervention Into Treatment - her son had to admit his drug problem, which was also difficult.
"With ice you can't get them to get help until they have hit rock bottom, and that's when they've lost everything, the house, the car, their friends who care, (and) alienated their family," Sarah said.
"When you're on a euphoric drug like that, you think you're totally coping with everything, you're king of the world."
Both Nikki and Joe, in their mid-20s, are now clean. Nikki has her daughter back while her son is in a long-term rehabilitation program after spending three weeks in Grafton jail.
But Sarah said the "ripple effect" on her community has still being felt.
"The ripple effect of this drug and what happens doesn't just affect the mother, it affects the grandparents, it affects friends, children, aunties. Everybody was a mess through this two year saga."
*All the names in this story have been changed.