Former ice addict Shana says ‘there is hope’
STARING down the barrel at the very real prospect of dying was what it took for former ice addict Shana Miller to begin the long road to recovery.
"I realised that if I didn't manage to find a way to turn things around, I had no future," she said.
Now she has been clean for three years and is in her second year of a dual bachelor degree in clinical science and psychology.
The amphetamine addiction started typically enough.
Shana was a 23-year-old mother of two living in the regional Queensland town of Kingaroy.
She had just been cheated on and was in a bad head space and vulnerable when a friend turned up and offered her some of the highly-addictive drug.
"I'd sort of dabbled in things on and off from time to time, but nothing serious," she said.
"When you sort of have it once, you lose that fear of the unknown.
"You think 'I didn't die, I felt pretty good for a little while' and before you know it, it just grabs you so quickly you don't even realise that suddenly you're addicted.
"Then you get these really horrible withdrawal symptoms where all the mucus membranes in the lungs dry out from consuming it, so when you stop it starts to feel like you're drowning.
"I knew a lot of girls that turned to selling themselves. I knew a lot of other people who sold the drug. Other people stole stuff."
On top of the physical pains of withdrawal and the overwhelming cost, Shana said there was also a compounded cycle of guilt for having used.
"To escape, you just end up turning back to it again," she said.
"It feels like all of the things that are bothering you just disappear out of your head for a little while, until the come down.
"Mostly you just feel really awake and detached from all of the things that bother you."
At one point, she managed to get clean for about three months before a relative coerced her into using again.
"I realised at that point… as long as I was around the same people I knew in the same place, I was always going to have someone there going 'come on, do it with me, have some, have some' and I would always fall back into it."
At 26, with two kids, Shana packed up her life, gave up any family support, and moved to the Northern Rivers where she recovered from her addiction and enrolled at Southern Cross University.
"There is hope," she said. "There is definitely a lot of hope.
"I could not have imagined, three years ago, that I would have ended up being where I am today. I could not see a future for myself.
"(Now) I'm enrolled in uni and I have two scholarships, have been overseas and got nearly straight high distinctions."