When Jay Morris appeared on Insight’s episode Ice Breaker in 2015, he had been clean from drugs for five months. Almost three years on, he shares how he maintains his sobriety one day at a time.
When rehab is done, that’s it, you’re completely on your own again. It’s on you to link up with other people and find support because, as I have learnt, sobriety cannot be achieved on your own.
For me, Narcotics Anonymous meetings were never appealing. I hated the idea of sitting in a room full of people talking about how terrible I was. I don’t even like to count how long I’ve been sober, it just adds unnecessary pressure to an already challenging journey.
Instead, strength-based programs like Smart Recovery have kept me sober. Each week I set two goals for myself but most importantly it’s not about the past, it’s about moving forward. The goals can be as simple as getting to counselling or the beach and, at the end of the week I return to a group to talk about what worked and why.
As someone who used drugs out of boredom, keeping myself occupied eradicates the chance of a relapse. I plan my days down to what I am cooking for dinner so I don’t have those moments where I ask myself ‘what now?’ And when I do want those quiet breaks, I message a friend telling them to give me a call if they don’t hear from me in a couple of hours.
After all these years I know the challenges and temptation will always be there. Associations with people, places and things are still triggering for me.
To this day, when I have an argument I’m reminded of that time. Back then I would turn to drugs to relieve that tension, whereas now I can actually have a conversation about why I feel that way. Now I recognise that I’m in control.
I’ve had moments where I thought I would relapse but through the network I have made I am able to reach out and ask for help. I have also learnt how to internally deal with my emotions. I call it ‘sitting in the shit’. Sitting with the feelings that are uncomfortable or give me anxiety, but then reflecting on the discomfort with someone else.
If there is someone with me, when it happens, I immediately let them know what’s going on in my head. If I feel they don’t want to talk about it, I make sure I return to it later. I have confided in healthcare workers, family and I’ve even found solace in reaching out to a friend of mine, a police officer, who shuts me down with a list of consequences.
I have always been a big believer that ice is too sensationalised. People throw around words like ‘epidemic’ but I think if we start treating it as a drug problem, not as an ice problem, it will make a huge difference.
When I saw ads on TV of an ice-user throwing a chair through a window I wondered what the hospital would think of me. If I went there and told them I was using ice, would they assume I was violent? When someone is getting help, seeing campaigns like that are demeaning and make people feel that one drug-user is more worthy than another.
These days I am working as a suicide prevention coordinator after finishing my bachelor of social work. I help people after a suicide attempt to get back on their feet and find their own routine over three months of care.
It’s incredibly challenging but incredibly rewarding. I don’t use my lived experience because I recognise that we are all different, but it's often sitting in the back of my mind.
I am now studying to receive my diploma in nursing with the end goal of becoming a mental health nurse. Now, it’s about helping people before they get to breaking point.
If you or someone you know needs support contact Lifeline 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or talk to a medical professional or someone you trust. You can also find a list of drug support services from Department of Health here or you can contact the Family Drug Support Line: 1300 368 186 (available 24 hours 7 days a week).