A DRUG addiction that was costing a couple $2500 a month, and almost lost them their children, has been kicked --- but it's taken 17 years.
Jack and Elle (not their real names) were using methamphetamine four times a day, five days a week.
The Gladstone-region couple gradually isolated themselves from friends and family, and had very little interaction with their primary school-aged children.
But their lives look different now; as they told the Observer it had been three months since the last time they used.
>> This is a problem for the community as a whole. We need to talk about it. Do you want to share your story? Contact us here
Now feeling regretful and disappointed about their drug use past, they say their lives have completely changed.
For the past 12 months they have been seeing a counsellor at Lives Lived Well.
Elle, whose father was a drug dealer, said she started using drugs at a young age.
"I was in grade eight when I first started ... I was encouraged to smoke marijuana but it wasn't my thing," Elle said.
"I then started using the heavier stuff, which was when I used meth. It was given to me on hand; whenever I asked for it, I got it."
Jack started when he was 17. At the beginning it was just social, he said.
Three years ago their using hit its peak. The couple said they were breaking into buildings and stealing money just to feed their addiction.
"Things went south in our relationship," Elle said.
"We moved back to (the Gladstone region) and we knew every drug dealer in town so we were quick to get back on it.
"We would use for four to five days and then have two days recovery, and then we'd be back on it again.
"We were both extremely skinny and I had sores all over my body; they were picking sores.
"My skin was absolutely terrible and I was very sleep deprived."
They felt like they had more energy, and had little to no emotions when they used.
But, they said they were still able to care for their children.
"There wasn't much interaction... but we'd still do dinners and do things for the children," Elle said.
"We could still look after them ... being a parent, it's still there but it wasn't the priority.
"We're disappointed that we went through it," Elle said.
"It's such a good feeling that we've been able to stop.
"Every day is a struggle and it will be like that for a long time but it's worth going through the pain ... We have a new life and our relationship with our kids, it's much healthier.
"There's not as much yelling in the house and the kids show more respect to each other and to us."
Now, the couple has set goals, including saving enough money to take the children on an Easter holiday.
They keep occupied by visiting creeks and beaches, going on drives and gardening.
The couple chose to remain anonymous while sharing their story.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.