Mother of three reveals devastating impact of ice
"I WOULDN'T wish being addicted to ice on my worst enemy; it's horrible, it destroys your life."
This was the advice from Casino mother of three, and self confessed ice addict for the past three years, Mahayla Hogan.
Ms Hogan said for many Northern Rivers ice addicts, their problem stemmed from their friends.
"I was 19 and my partner at the time, who was 11-years older than me, was selling ice," she said.
"I reckon he got me on it so I would lose weight.
"I think my now two-year-old boy was about six weeks old when he got me on it first.
"I didn't have a break for five months; I was using ice every day."
Now she said she hardly knows anyone who doesn't use ice.
"I would know countless people from Casino who are addicted to ice; I know more people that use than don't," she said.
At the peak of her addiction, Mehayla was smoking about $1000 worth of ice every day.
"I'm still using pretty much daily, I used to smoke a gram a day," she said.
"Now I'm down to smoking a point, or a couple of points (of a gram), almost every day."
While she prefers smoking ice, Mehayla said her ex-partner injected her with the drug one of the first times she used it.
"You don't look at yourself the way that everyone else is looking at you, you don't think you are doing anything wrong, she said.
Barely eating and not sleeping properly, Ms Hogan said she lost almost 40 kilos due to ice.
"I went from 83 kilos to 47 kilos in eight months," she said.
"It was definitely due to ice, because before I used I was always bigger, around 70 to 80 kilos."
Now weighing 68 kilos, Ms Hogan said the ice epidemic on the Northern Rivers was no exaggeration.
"Until I started using it I didn't realise how much of a problem it was," she said.
"But then once you're in the circle and around the people all the time you realise just how many people are on it.
"If I was to sit in a room of 15 people, there would be nobody there that didn't use; they'd either inject it or smoke it."
Injecting ice was a major issue on the Northern Rivers, with used syringes being found all around the Casino CBD, Ms Hogan said.
"Last week my friend went to use the toilet in the main street and found three uncapped syringes in the sink," she said.
"From what I've heard the pipe is a lot more addictive than the needle and harder to get off than what the needle is."
The solution to the ice epidemic, Ms Hogan said, was not sending offenders to jail.
"People should be made to sign a form saying they won't leave rehab until they have completed it," she said.
"Sending people to jail only sees them come out with a worse addiction and diseases from sharing syringes."
Through the depths of despair, Ms Hogan said she was extremely lucky to have her mother Mecca's support.
"I'd do anything to get my daughter back and for my grandchildren to have their mother back," she said.
"The bottom line is never give up on your children, because if you give up on them, who else do they have."