BREAKING THE ICE:
Drugs and alcohol had a significant impact on Josh Simm’s life when he was growing up.
The 33-year-old Shepparton resident started drinking and taking drugs when he was young and tried ice when he was 21.
For the next 10 years he took ice on and off.
‘‘It was horrible living in that world,’’ he said.
‘‘You’re in a really dark place and you can’t see any light and you can’t see any way out, it consumes your life.
‘‘Your world starts to revolve around it, it’s a very powerful drug.’’
But Mr Simm’s story is not fraught with despair or sadness, he was able to overcome his addiction and now spends his time raising awareness about drug and alcohol support services.
‘‘I want to share a message of hope that people can get through it,’’ he said.
Mr Simm said disconnection seemed to play a significant part in addiction and theorised it may have been why he started taking drugs and eventually using ice.
‘‘My dad’s English and my mum’s Aboriginal and I just felt like I didn’t fit in on either side of the family,’’ he said.
‘‘I felt like I was different.’’
Despite feeling like an outsider, Mr Simm still had the love and support of his parents who were devastated to see what was happening to him.
Mr Simm said eventually his parents came to the decision to stop enabling his problem and temporarily cut him off so he could find out what it was like to hit rock bottom.
This sink-or-swim approach changed Mr Simm and made him realise his life was no longer manageable and he had a problem.
‘‘I was late to work and having more days off work and stuff like that,’’ he said.
‘‘People noticed but I was very ashamed about it and I wasn’t completely honest with what was happening.
‘‘I think I just had to get into a place where I was desperate and then I went into rehab myself.’’
Mr Simm said even now it was difficult to even talk about what happened because there continued to be stigma associated with drug addiction.
This sort of stigma has seen many people struggle to gain help for an addiction because they feared being harshly judged by others.
‘‘When you’re in active addiction your self-esteem is very low and you’ve got a high ego because you’re running on ego just to get by, so you don’t know how to ask for help. It’s really hard,’’ Mr Simm said.
Fortunately, there is help out there for people living with an addiction and continual support and interaction with others makes the process possible.
‘‘I was lucky that my parents were very supportive of me getting help, they just wanted their son back,’’ Mr Simm said.
‘‘Through recovery and finding a new way to live, it’s given me my life back.’’
Mr Simm has been clean for two years and is now focused on making a difference in the community by helping to find solutions to the ice problem.
The Local Organisation of Ice Support (LOIS) Group and The Cottage are two things Mr Simm now dedicates his time to.
Both organisations are committed to raising awareness about drugs and alcohol and showing people there is a solution to addiction.
The Cottage, of which Mr Simm is the operations manager, opened recently in Shepparton and Mr Simm said it was great to see how it was helping others.
‘‘In the short time we’ve been going it’s amazing the results we’ve been seeing,’’ he said.
A lot of the people who come to The Cottage go onto access services such as Goulburn Valley Health’s day program for drug dependence.
Mr Simm said these people were responding well to the services on offer and they were receiving a lot of positive feedback.
‘‘Every day it’s a miracle with some of the things that are happening,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m blessed to be a part of it.’’
Mr Simm said it was vital for people to start talking about ice and their experiences with the drug.
By doing this people could come together and start to problem solving the issue and talk about solutions.
‘‘LOIS is really good, raising community awareness is one of the key things in us moving in a better direction with what’s happening here with the ice,’’ he said.
‘‘I think rural communities in Australia are really feeling it.’’
Mr Simm said unfortunately a lot of people wanted to turn a blind eye to ice, even when it was happening in their family but there was still hope for people dependent on the drug.
‘‘I know I have to keep on sharing my message,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s very important that we involve the community as much as we can and let them have a say... I think that is how we will come to the best solutions, by having everyone engaged.
‘‘Ice causes destruction in families and communities but there are solutions.’’
For more information on The Cottage go to [email protected]