LIVING and caring for several family members addicted to drugs, including methamphetamine, for 16 years has been a “rollercoaster ride of emotion” for Hayley Solich.
The mother-of-four, who has also housed an unrelated recovering meth addict, said these experiences had “opened her eyes” to how drugs affected people and why they used them.
Mrs Solich said it also made her aware of the “frustration and confusion you feel as a carer and spectator”.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotion, of highs and lows (pardon the pun), where our life has been deeply impacted by their choices,” she said.
“Years on I am still confused about what will work, as I am not convinced there is a magic pill when it comes to quitting something that you believe helps you in some way.”
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One of Mrs Solich’s family members has used drugs for about 22 years.
Prior to using, she said he was gentle, fun and had a strong community focus with Christian values but once introduced to meth he became distant, aggressive and irritable. Mrs Solich said she was initially “ignorant of a lot of his use” because it was done away from her, so the impact of these behaviours were hard to recognise.
“However, in the later years he became more deeply affected by the drugs, with obvious health impacts and has required a deeper level of my involvement in his treatment and care,” she said.
“When he is on the meth, he doesn’t sleep for days on end, then crashes and you can’t move him.
“He also suffers from PTSD due to a drug-related bashing where he was knocked unconscious and beaten, and depression/anxiety due to his loss of lifestyle.”
Mrs Solich said most of her time was spent “worrying, checking, soothing and also confronting him” which made her feel like she was on a “see-saw of emotion”.
She said meth affected everyone who had a connection to the person using, especially their family.
She said the use of meth was also a community problem.
“While they are affected, we need strategies for harm minimisation as a community,” she said.
“Certainly, a cynical approach that is stigmatising only helps to intensify the feelings of alienation experienced by the user.”
For Mrs Solich, determining why a person used drugs was the first step in tackling the problem.
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