MARISHA had a job, owned her home and was raising five children, living a typical suburban Perth life.
But all that changed in the space of just 18 months when she became addicted to methamphetamine, homeless and was eventually sent to jail.
Marisha wants people to realise there is no typical drug user and that it can happen to anyone.
It is not a warning but a plea for understanding.
In 2011, a cluster of life changes, including separation from her partner of 20 years, saw Marisha seek help and begin taking anti-depressants.
“There were a lot of pressures,” she said. “I sort of hit a burnout phase.”
She now believes she was unknowingly suffering from serotonin syndrome from the medication, which made her behave differently and irrationally.
“I was becoming really, really unwell,” she said.
Her home became somewhere for her teenage son’s friends to hang out but as she relaxed about visitors, it attracted adult drug users.
Marisha believed she was “already well on my way to psychosis” from the prescribed drugs before trying methamphetamine.
“It brought about a connection at first,” she said.
“I couldn’t stop myself.
“It was all-consuming.”
Her children tried to seek help for their mum and police began investigating her activities.
She lost her home, started living in her car, and a year later was sentenced to 23 months in jail.
“It was a really catastrophic choice,” she said.
After several months of incarceration, Marisha sought help.
“I just had to slowly rebuild myself,” she said. “Some of the officers there helped restore my faith in myself.
“Each day was one after the other but I would do my best.”
She credited treatment provider Cyrenian House with helping her recover and now volunteers with the organisation as a peer support worker.
Marisha is studying a Certificate IV in mental health support and working hard to re-establish her life.
“Before, I didn’t know if there was a future,” she said.
“I’m engaging with every opportunity coming up.”
After leaving prison, she had to rebuild her relationship with her children.
“They’re not ashamed of me, they’re proud of what I’ve made of a horrible situation,” she said.
“They know it’s OK to say no, it’s OK to say you’re struggling.
“You’re never too old to change, no matter how long you’ve done it.”
While early intervention and peer support are crucial, Marisha also believed people could help by reducing the stigma associated with drug use and encouraging others to seek help.
“Don’t be afraid to have a conversation,” she said.
“It does not discriminate.
“I was an everyday person.
“I never would have suspected I would have taken drugs.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call: 24/7 Alcohol and drug support line – 9442 5000; 24/7 Meth helpline – 1800 874 878; 24/7 Parent and family support line – 9442 5050