KELLI Pfeiffer had no idea her 15-year-old son was addicted to drugs until he was expelled from his high school.
The Rockhampton farmer said she had no idea he was using anything and was shocked to find out he had been abusing various drugs since he was 13-years-old.
Kelli said her son, who was attending a Rockhampton high school at the time, was first introduced to drugs by his classmates who were pressured by outside dealers.
This early introduction paved the way for Kelli's son to develop a dependence on marijuana and methamphetamine.
"He was coerced into drugs, that's what happens now," she said.
"It is a big industry... what has happened in the last few years is that they are infiltrating schools and co-opting children into becoming dealers.
"That of course is grooming them to become drug dealers in their own schools."
Once Kelli's son was expelled, she knew the first step was to try to find help.
The desperate mother visited GPs, counsellors, social workers, psychologists and medical specialists before she realised there were very few facilities in Queensland that could take her son due to his age, or the massive waiting lists.
When her son was nearing the age of 18, a social worker who Kelli knew personally put her in touch with someone in a clinic outside of Queensland.
"She said, 'I don't think you are going to get into anywhere in Queensland, give New South Wales a try'," Kelli said.
"I was immediately put in touch with two detox centres and two rehabilitation centres that he felt were appropriate for my son's age and within a week we had interviews with both."
But it wasn't an easy journey from there.
Just weeks out from an interview, Kelli and her family were threatened by someone from her son's drug world and were told by the police to leave town.
So Kelli packed up her son and drove for three weeks straight while he was detoxing, in an attempt to waste time before getting him into a rehabilitation facility.
She described it as the "most unpleasant experience" of her life.
Once her son was finally accepted into the Triple Care Farm rehabilitation centre, he recovered after just 12 weeks.
"He's fantastic... he came home to Rockhampton and started a job one week later and has been gainfully employed since," Kelli said.
"It was the most harrowing experience my family has ever gone through, but the fear it might come back is always there.
"Even yesterday I said to him, it frightens me that one day you might go back to drugs and he said, 'I will never go back to that again'."
Kelli said she was immensely proud of her son and wanted to destroy the stigma around addiction.
While she mourns the five years her son lost to drugs, she said the man he had become was something truly special.
"Drugs affect everyone... from children to 60-year-old people and if we take the stigma away people will come forward to seek support," she said.
"I have told him he should never be embarrassed about what his past is and he is a shining example of what can happen when someone is given the right support services."
Kelli's son is now 19 and has been drug free since his visit to the rehabilitation centre.
- Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant drug similar to amphetamine.
- It can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected.
- People who use long-term may experience anxiety, confusion, insomnia and mood disturbances.
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