Ellenbrook couple recall son’s battle with ice and help received from Shalom House

Gail and Dave Conlan, of
Ellenbrook, with Shalom House manager Peter
Lyndon-James.   Picture: David Baylis
Gail and Dave Conlan, of Ellenbrook, with Shalom House manager Peter Lyndon-James. Picture: David Baylis

AN Ellenbrook couple have told of how they almost lost their 20-year-old son to the state’s ice epidemic.

Their story emerged as Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Hasluck MHR Ken Wyatt toured Henley Brook rehabilitation facility Shalom House.

The MPs announced the region would share in $20 million towards local drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

Mr Keenan said WA had the highest methylamphetamine rates per capita in the world.

“Australians use more meth than any comparable country, which is very troubling. And WA has the worst usage rates in the nation,” he said.

Gail and Dave Conlan told the two MPs the heartbreaking story of their son’s downward spiral before he went to live at Shalom House six months ago.

“Brodie went from smoking cigarettes and pot at a young age, where he would not show up to school, to pill popping and smoking or injecting ice, at which the downward spiral of lies, dangerous behaviour and total disrespect for anyone or anything started,” Mrs Conlan said.

“We have stood in front of drug dealers who have come to the door asking for money he owed them.

“He has tried suicide on a number of occasions, and had a stint in hospital to be monitored.”

Mrs Conlan said they were left feeling helpless.

“At one stage leaving Brodie in prison and not putting up his bail was one of the hardest things we did,” she said.

“But this was possibly the start of our turning point to realise we were no longer dealing with our son, but with an out-of- control drug addict.”

It was then that they knew Brodie had to leave the family house, where his two younger siblings were being affected.

“We gave Brodie an ultimatum – either he packed his bags to go live his life on the streets or he packed his bags to enter a rehab program,” Mrs Conlan said.

“Either way he couldn’t stay in our house as a drug addict anymore.”

The next day, they received a phone call from the manager of Shalom House, Peter Lyndon-James, who told them their son was at Shalom House and he would be staying a while.

“For the first time in a long time we actually slept that night, knowing exactly where he was,” Mrs Conlan said.

“I cannot express my gratitude enough to Shalom house; we have now restored our relationship with Brodie and we have our little boy back. He has a spark back in his eyes, which had left him for some time.”

Mr Wyatt said this story represented the struggle of many families in the area.

“This drug (ice) devastates families,” he said.

“The families I’ve seen who hurt from the impact of drugs really gets to you.

“The scourge of ice across the east metropolitan region is raised with me constantly while I am out and about in Hasluck.”

Mr Keenan said the $20 million pledge was part of the Federal Government’s $300 million plan to tackle ice across Australia.

“WA’s high usage rate clearly shows in our crime statistics.”

A correlation, he said, that went hand in hand.

“Drugs absolutely fuel the market for low level crime,” Mr Keenan said.

“But also for organised crime, because it’s where the enormous profit is.

“Drugs and crime are completely and utterly interrelated.

“We have to tackle supply, which is why we have the AFP in WA, working along side WA police, and doing all we can to tear down people who are pedalling in this menace,” he said.

“But secondly, we have to tackle demand.

“We have to educate people about the effects of this drug before they get addicted to it.”

Mr Wyatt said the money would be shared throughout the state. “$9 million will be targeted to rural and regional Western Australia,” he said.

“The rest of the $11 million will be made available within the metropolitan area in the Primary Health Network, or with community-determined programs.”

Shalom House does not rely on funding, despite the fact service providers can apply to the Primary Health Network for it.

“What is fantastic about Shalom House is they don’t use commonwealth or state funding,” he said.

“They self-fund.

“Their emphasis and approach is very different and they’re not reliant on government funding at all.

“What really impresses me is the number of volunteers who give up their own time to be part of the healing process that is Shalom House.

“The success rate they have here is 100 per cent, they’re taking people off drug addictions and taking them away from challenges they have in their lives then returning them to their families.

“These programs help, so let’s support them and encourage their growth, because I’d rather see healthy, normal people back in our community, not isolated from it.”