Im­plant helped end meth night­mare

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Meth Crisis - Natasha’s Story - By GIO­VANNI TORRE

NATASHA was in “hell” for more than 20 years be­fore she heard of Fresh Start’s nal­trex­one im­plant pro­gram.

“I had to leave home when I was 13. I was on the streets,” she said.

“I be­came friends with a dealer. I started deal­ing ec­stasy when I was 13, I started tak­ing it on the week­end and I pro­gressed from ec­stasy to speed.

“When I was about 19, deal­ers were say­ing ‘there’s this stuff, it’s like speed but stronger and more pure’.

“It was sold to me as speed. It was not un­til I tried to stop that I re­alised I couldn’t, which was noth­ing like what I had ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Natasha was a con­stant user for more than a decade be­fore her first se­ri­ous at­tempt to get off meth seven years ago.

“I went to a res­i­den­tial pro­gram but be­cause I was preg­nant at the time the pro­gram was no good for me. They didn’t take into ac­count my morn­ing sick­ness, and I could not get out of bed to do things like the 6am run.

“My son was 12 at the time. He was with his dad and hav­ing prob­lems. I phoned the farm and tried to ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion, but they said they would kick me out if I didn’t come back that day. I needed one night - and my son comes first.”

Natasha was des­per­ate to stop us­ing while she was preg­nant and went into King Ed­ward Memo­rial Hospital.

“They were help­ing me man­age my us­ing. It was hell. I was deal­ing with the crav­ings ev­ery day, and the phys­i­cal ef­fects, but I could do it be­cause I was preg­nant. When I gave birth to my daugh­ter I started us­ing again.”

Natasha ex­plored ev­ery ser­vice she could find but didn’t know about Fresh Start at the time.

“You name it, I tried it. They doped me up to my eye­balls to the point my mum was scared of let­ting me carry a cof­fee. I was on 16 dif­fer­ent tablets - it was dis­gust­ing. I could not live like that… I went back to meth,” she said.

Her third at­tempt to stop was prompted by the on­set of meth-in­duced psy­chosis.

“Be­ing a mum is ev­ery­thing to me - to be a good in­flu­ence. I started to see things. I saw a black rat run un­der my bed cov­ers. I was pan­ick­ing and called for my son. I was hys­ter­i­cal, it must have been a ter­ri­ble thing for him to see.

“I was like this for a cou­ple of days, try­ing to get him to chase this an­i­mal that was not there. It was the wake-up call. I asked my mum to ad­mit me to the psych ward at Sir Charles Gaird­ner Hospital. Af­ter six weeks I came out and started us­ing again - and started to have psy­chosis again.”

Natasha stopped us­ing ev­ery­thing - meth and the med­i­ca­tion that kept her in a stu­por.

“I knew if I went back on meth I would die. I reached out on Face­book. I re­searched and found Fresh Start.”

She rang Fresh Start and they in­vited her to come the next day and re­ceive a nal­trex­one im­plant.

“I got an im­plant and I have never used again. That was two-and-a-half years ago,” Natasha said.

“Be­fore I went to Ge­orge O’neil I tried to kill my­self. I wanted to be off drugs and had no op­tions. I gave up. I had three choices - kill my­self, be on meth, or be doped up. This is why we are los­ing so many peo­ple.”

Natasha is now en­joy­ing the best time of her life.

“Things are great now. Be­ing on meth was liv­ing hell,” she said.

“For the first time in my adult life I am func­tion­ing. I am go­ing back to school to study com­mu­nity ser­vices, I al­ways wanted to study some­thing that would help peo­ple, and I have great re­la­tion­ships with my kids.

“I feel like I am in heaven ev­ery day. I feel joy - I feel free. Meth is just a dis­tant night­mare.”

The im­plant gave Natasha “free­dom” from com­pul­sion to use meth ev­ery day.

“I still had to go through with­drawals for six months. Peo­ple around me took two years out of their lives to help me.”

Natasha is now start­ing her own not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion - the Lynch­pin Cen­tre - of­fer­ing a full re­lapse pre­ven­tion ser­vice for peo­ple who need to get clean and stay clean.

“I know peo­ple who if they had the right ser­vices to help them straight away af­ter an im­plant - so many more would be able to get clean.”

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