Client Story: Ice destroyed my life

The 2022-23 National Drug Strategy Household Survey revealed a stark reality: 1.6 million Australians over the age of 14 have used crystal methamphetamine; including ice, speed, or base. Among them is Melinda Hansen, a 25-year-old woman from Melbourne whose story serves as both a cautionary tale and a beacon of hope.

Melinda’s journey began after two years in London, where cocaine use became a regular part of her life. Upon returning to Australia, she found ice more accessible and cheaper. “One point could cost $80 to $100” she recalls.

Today, Melinda dedicates her life to helping others through a residential rehabilitation program. Reflecting on her introduction to ice, she admits that smoking an ice pipe seemed socially acceptable at the time. However, it led her down a path of unwanted media attention, intravenous drug use, and ultimately jail.

“Ice stripped me of my confidence, my self-esteem. It tore away my family and my friends and destroyed my life.”

At her lowest point, Melinda was arrested in an upmarket Melbourne hotel, where police found equipment suitable for the manufacture of methamphetamine. The media likened her situation to something out of Breaking Bad, dubbing her the “Chapel Street dealer.”

This made her introduction to prison life even more challenging. “It was really confronting that I was about to walk into jail. I’d never ever been to jail before, and to know that the whole yard was about to be talking about me…”

Sadly, stories like Melinda’s are becoming increasingly common. The Australian Crime Commission reports record seizures of ice and precursor chemicals. “We have trans-national groups coming from nearly 50 countries who are importing drugs and/or involved in the manufacture or trafficking within Australia,” says Crime Commission Chief Executive, Chris Dawson.

Criminologist and associate professor John Fitzgerald emphasises the need for a balanced approach. “What we’re seeing is a lot more drug crime detection, likely due to increased police efforts. However, community interventions and ice-specific rehabilitation are crucial,” he explains.

An Alcohol & Other Drug counsellor, who prefers to remain anonymous, echoes this sentiment, warning that without significant government funding, the situation will worsen. “If we don’t take care of this now, we’re going to create a generation of aggressive zombies,” he cautions.

With her firsthand experience, Melinda plans to help others navigate their recovery journeys. “Being able to share what I’ve gone through and help others see the opportunities for recovery is my new mission,” she says.

Melinda’s story is a powerful reminder that even in the darkest times, there is hope. Through determination and support, it is possible to reclaim one’s life and inspire others to do the same.


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