What started out as just a bit of fun, soon turned into a rollercoaster ride of drugs, domestic violence and crime, but Dhungatti woman and former drug addict, Karen Syed now says no to ice.
Laura Morelli

24 Feb 2017 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 28 Feb 2017 - 8:52 AM

Touching Ice

I met this guy and we formed a relationship, he was touching ice so I tried it. Before I knew it I needed it, I needed to have it all the time. It was my only motivation to do anything at all. The guy I was with – we eventually broke up, but the addiction had already kicked in so I still kept taking it.

My son was going over to my mother’s a lot; my mum would watch him for months on end and I wouldn’t have contact with any of them, I’d be out busy doing crime and just getting high. Eventually I would come back home but I was always so unreliable.

Rehab, Crime and Rehab Again

When I was supposed to pick my son up from school, or his grandma’s house, I just wouldn’t show up. His paternal grandmother eventually took me to court, because my life wasn’t in order. It was there where I had to admit I had a drug problem and was an ice user.I got told to go to rehab, but that failed. It took another year for me to go back to rehab again.

That year I met a new partner and that relationship turned violent. He was on the ice too and he was so paranoid that he’d think people were jumping from windows and would randomly beat me. I was able to visit my son occasionally, those visits were so good but I still kept using.

There was one incident where I got caught doing crime and had to go to custody. Finally when I was released, the first thing I looked for was drugs, it was almost uncontrollable. It took a long time for me to be able to get a bed in a rehab facility. While I was waiting, I continued taking drugs and couldn’t manage to say no to ice.

Saying NO to Ice

I remember the morning I had to go back to rehab for the third time like it was yesterday. All I could think of was getting another hit before I went to rehab, so I did exactly that.

After woods, I got picked up by my mum, someone from Baabayn Aboriginal Cooperation and my son’s paternal grandmother. They decided to pick me up because they didn’t trust me on my own as they thought I wouldn’t have shown up, and who knows if I would have without them.

The difference was this time, my son came for the drive to drop me back off at rehab and I think that was my turning point.

This time I knew I had to do it. It was hard but it needed to be done. My son constantly would ask when he could come to be with me. I looked at it like this: My child didn’t ask to come into this world; he was brought here by me so I need to make sure I’m here for him. After that I stayed clean and made sure I was the mother I needed to be all along.

Pathway to Success

Things sure have paid off. Last September I got my son back into my full time care and it’s so good being able to be the mother I always should have been. I am now also the coordinator of the mums group at Baabayn Aboriginal Cooperation. Basically my role there is to facilitate confidential conversations, where myself and other mothers can talk about addiction, domestic violence and anything else. For the women that can’t make it to the help groups, I help them by responding to questions and giving advice on Facebook. I speak about how to restore children in custody and about getting out of the drug scene. All I want to do is show our community that it’s not easy to do it but it is possible and there is support available.

Baabayan, my mum and my son’s paternal grandmother were the ones who got me through this all. I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for them. I now offer support to any women and men who need help with ice and advice on getting off it. I want to let people know that it’s not impossible – it will take a lot of effort and a fair few tries, but you can do it if you really want to.

Keeping Clean

As for me, I haven’t looked back. I find it hard to see people using it, I don’t like being around it, but that’s the struggle of life when you’ve had an addiction. You’ll always second guess if you want it. My inspiration is just to look at my son, see how happy he is to be home with me and instantly the urge for drugs goes away.

I’ve been clean for two years and I don’t have the urge to do it anymore, if I ever do think about it, I just remember my son. As much as I stopped the drugs for myself, It was also for him. He was the drive and push to make me stay focused and stay clean. He’s 7-years-old and knows what’s going on and the thing is, for a kid that age he shouldn’t have to go through that. Now I’m glad to be the mother I am today. I missed out on so much and I can only regret that, but I can’t go back on it, now I have to make the most out of our future.

Karen Syed will be available to provide guidance tomorrow at Baabayn's Mt Druitt says no to ice event. 

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