Ice inquiry | The healing can begin for families

Kerryn Johnston says the inquiry into methamphetamine has given people a chance to voice their concerns. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Kerryn Johnston says the inquiry into methamphetamine has given people a chance to voice their concerns. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

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'Not an epidemic yet... but it's hurting our families'

IF the parliamentary inquiry into methamphetamine has achieved anything, Kerryn Johnston says it gave a voice to those like her who have been damaged by ice addiction.

The mother from Mount Beauty is one of hundreds of family members who shared their pain during the inquiry’s public hearings.

Ms Johnston pored over the 900-page report in her home yesterday with a pen in hand.

“It’s covered everything, all of the concerns people had and it’s given people a chance to voice concern and if nothing else, people are listening,” she said.

Four months ago Ms Johnston didn’t know if her daughter was alive.

Ellie Johnston, 24, disappeared into addiction after moving to Sydney seven years ago to chase her dream of becoming a hairdresser.

Four months ago, after two years of trying to get her back, she came home, broken-hearted after a split with her boyfriend.

There was no shiny detox facility waiting for her. Instead it was just her mum and her mum’s husband as her support team.

“When she did decide to come home I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do with her?’ I had no idea,” Ms Johnston said.

“We couldn’t get her straight into detox.”

It took five weeks to find a place for Ellie in a rehabilitation facility at Wagga.

That, Ms Johnston said, was a miracle, given the family had been faced with waiting lists of three months or the unaffordable option of paying $30,000 for a place in a private facility.

“We were lucky she was determined to get off it. She was like a caged lion ... legs aching and skin crawling,” Ms Johnston said.

Now, Ellie is due for release in a few weeks.

“My stomach is starting to churn thinking about when she is coming out,” Ms Johnston said.

“I’m scared. I’m hoping there’s programs afterwards now.”

And education for families on how and where to get help, she said, is one of the key recommendations that needs to be implemented.

“We need education to families so they know how to become aware of what the kids are doing, what the drug does, the mood changes, that type of thing,” Ms Johnston said.

She also welcomed the inquiry’s recommendations for expanding rehabilitation and detox facilities in the country and the expansion of the drug court.

“Whether they can do it or not is another thing, isn’t it?” she said.

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