BREAKING THE ICE:
Life changed drastically for Shepparton’s Donna Venables, 44, one night when she was admitted to a hospital emergency department with pain.
Ms Venables had been sober for 10 years but on this particular night she was given narcotics to cope with the pain.
‘‘I said to them I don’t want anything narcotic because I’m an addict and they gave me narcotics and when I came out of that the compulsion had set in,’’ she said.
This experience saw Ms Venables begin to take different prescription pills on a regular basis and then start drinking alcohol.
Taking ice was a gradual progression from taking cannabis, alcohol and prescription medication.
‘‘The unacceptable became acceptable... it was offered to me and I took it,’’ she said.
Using ice was something Ms Venables did in social situations but was not something she could afford to do regularly.
‘‘In the end it made me sick, it made me vomit and I couldn’t physically take it but I think if it hadn’t done that I would have probably kept taking it,’’ she said.
At her lowest point, Ms Venables started to struggle in her day-to-day life and found she was lying to loved ones and work colleagues.
For seven years, she worked in mental health and said she was sober for most of that time.
‘‘It was obvious by the end, I was actually sacked,’’ she said.
‘‘I didn’t say that at the time to anyone, I just said I’d been taken off the roster.’’
After this happened, Ms Venables went into a rehab facility and came out a few weeks later believing she was cured but continued taking drugs and alcohol for another year.
When Ms Venables was eventually admitted to hospital she had hepatitis, malnutrition, dehydration and had also come to the realisation that the drugs she was taking no longer worked.
‘‘I came home one day after having taken a lot of pills and alcohol, I was on mood stabilisers, sedatives, valium, so I was on a cocktail of a lot of stuff and I came home and realised it had stopped working,’’ she said.
‘‘I should’ve been well unconsciousness and I wasn’t, I was clear in the mind and I guess I panicked and I thought, ‘what am I going to do?’
‘‘And as corny as it sounds I said a prayer, I said, ‘God help me, I can’t do this any more, I can’t stop, I need help’.’’
This was the turning point for Ms Venables who has been sober for five years and is determined to help others struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
For Ms Venables, recovery was not difficult because she had made up her mind that she was going to do it and she knew there were resources out there that would help in her along the way.
Ms Venables is very optimistic about her future and has joined the Local Organisation of Ice Support (LOIS) Group and The Cottage, helping in a range of capacities such as graphic design and administration.
‘‘If I can get out of my own thinking and help someone else, it’s good for me,’’ she said.
Ms Venables said these days there were a lot more services available for people struggling with a drug or alcohol problem and it was important people were made aware of this, which was what LOIS aimed to do.
‘‘It’s about bringing awareness to (addiction), it’s not a dirty word and people recover,’’ she said.