Crystal meth messed me up
By RAVI THANDI
PETA isn't the sort of person most people would have picked for a 'druggie'.
For starters, she was raised in Coffs Harbour, not the inner city suburbs, she grew up with her grandparents, and she goes to church on Sundays.
She could be any other girl you would pass in the street ? beautiful, well dressed, and sipping on a decaf latte. Except Peta is recovering from a 'crystal meth' addiction.
Crystal meth is a highly addictive form of d-methamphetimine, also known as ice, glass, crank and meth. It's rising popularity in the past few years has seen it spread from the underground drug world in big cities to even the most isolated towns, and the most highly respected people in society - solicitors, barristers and teachers ? are feeling its effects.
Coffs Harbour is no exception.
Peta was only 18 years old when she first tried crystal meth ? not in Sydney, where she had moved to after completing her HSC ? but back home in Coffs Harbour. She said she didn't exactly know what it was at the time, but she tried it anyway and she liked it. It was 'fun'.
Once back in Sydney, it soon became a drug that was all too easily accessible, and all too addictive.
The teenage student got hooked on a drug which 'stopped time', made her feel 'euphoric' and, above all, gave her a 'sense of peace'.
"You can't take control of your life . . . the drug controls you, but you think you're in control," Peta said.
The drug eventually took over her life, Peta recalling once spending an entire night and day sitting and sketching one picture. Hours would pass without her notice, then days, and then a month.
She once went a week and a half without sleeping, forgetting to eat or go to the toilet. At the end of the time, she was starting to see and hear things.
"Your mind just does you in after a while," Peta said.
After trying to quit her addiction twice, and slipping easily back into the habit, Peta finally ended up in hospital with a 10cm vein collapse.
Peta decided it was time to move home.
Once here, it didn't take long to realise that even Coffs Harbour hasn't been left untouched by the drug that is sweeping the world.
The only difference is, that whereas in Sydney people are aware of the drug, in Coffs Harbour the majority are not.
"We're so sheltered from it," Peta said.
"You're either in it or you're not."
Perhaps the most dangerous thing of all is the fact that people either don't know that the drug is here, or if they do, they will turn a blind eye as long as it isn't affecting them directly.
The problem is, that while alcohol is by far the most popular drug of choice, followed by marijuana, people are living in denial if they think they're the only drugs Coffs Harbour has to deal with. And nobody wants to talk about it.
Professionals in the area say the crystal meth problem in Coffs Harbour is 'slight, but not significant', but do admit it is definitely available in the area.
To say that it is not something to worry about because people are just 'experimenting' is something that people recovering from drug addiction do not agree with.
Peta's ordeal began as something 'fun' to do while out on the town. A drug that could last for days seemed like the perfect accompaniment on weekend benders.
However, after three months of being clean of the drug, Peta is still feeling the effects.
"My feelings are still too overwhelming for me . . . Sometimes I'm just in a numb state," she said.
"When I look back on it, it feels like I'm talking about someone else . . . I'm very disconnected from what happened."
For somebody who says she was at the 'stage of life and death', crystal meth is a problem that is still all too real for Peta.
And though it hasn't risen to the popularity levels of ecstasy or speed just yet, it is still a drug that has definitely made its presence known, not just in the cities, but Coffs Harbour, too.