Emily Taylor has been using the online drug addiction course and credits “100 per cent” for helping her.
Emily Taylor has been using the online drug addiction course and credits “100 per cent” for helping her.

How Emily was saved from ice

Emily Taylor can pinpoint the moment she needed help to rid her life of the evils of "ice".

The 35-year-old had tried three times to get clean after dabbling in drugs for years. But it was the ravages of crystal methamphetamine - or ice - that convinced her she needed help.

"I'm a long-time drug user. It's only in recent years that I got on the ice - it's a horrible drug," the Melbourne woman told news.com.au.

Ms Taylor knows she is one of the lucky ones because most addicts in her position aren't able to seek help or even get through their day-to-day lives.

"I've kept myself together fairly well for someone in that position. It's horrific. When I first reached out to Realdrug talk it was the third time I really tried to get clean."

Her previous brushes with addiction services left her feeling even more vulnerable and she wasn't comfortable with the ways he was treated.

"I felt there was nowhere I could go where I felt like I wasn't being judged and treated like a criminal or a patient sort of thing. I didn't feel a connection or understanding between myself and these types of services."

That all changed when she saw Realdrug talk founder Jack Nagle on Facebook interviewing a recovered drug user about his new addiction course. The groundbreaking treatment offers drug users the chance to take part in treatment in their own homes.

Former ice user Jack Nagle. Picture: Stuart Milligan
Former ice user Jack Nagle. Picture: Stuart Milligan

"Jack's been there before. He's coming from it with a different approach and in my opinion we need to follow countries like Portugal - our way is not working and Jack has a really fresh approach of looking at a problem that has been around a long time," Ms Taylor said.

Anything that got people off the "vicious circle of addiction" had to be a good thing, she said.

While Mr Nagle has his own history of drug abuse, he has managed to turn his experiences into a career helping others. He formed Realdrug talk in 2014 with the intention of changing perceptions around addiction so the stigma was eliminated, and allowed users the chance to beat their addictions.

His latest course is the one Ms Taylor and many others are taking advantage of. Called Jekyll & Hyde, the program aims to open up access to help, support and education to those suffering with alcohol, drug and addiction issues.

That access is half the battle in getting better for many people, Mr Nagle told news.com.au.

"Not everyone needs to be an inpatient in a clinic and there has been a misconception that all (users) need that to recover. But with the right tools some can be helped from their own home."

Mr Nagle has launched a groundbreaking new course that offers hope for drug users and problem drinkers. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Mr Nagle has launched a groundbreaking new course that offers hope for drug users and problem drinkers. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Mr Nagle joined forces with drug addiction treatment experts to create Jekyll and Hyde which is an online program that can be done with daily contact and exercises between the individual and Mr Nagle and other addiction experts.

The program runs over six weeks and is split into three modules that cover the sorts of things addicts need to get clean, from dealing with cravings, to making the important life changes to stay clean.

He describes it as an intensive program that draws together online coaching and counselling, support through a Facebook community of others seeking treatment, video presentations and manuals that have interactive exercises.

The results have surprised even him.

"It's working really well for some of them it has actually worked better than (conventional) treatments," Mr Nagle said.

It is also more affordable - something that shouldn't be a consideration for those seeking help, but increasingly is.

"The biggest thing I've found is cost, that is the major factor for many people and all they want to do is get clean," he said.

Many of those using the course were like Ms Taylor - high functioning addicts who on the outside kept their addictions secret but who were worried about the stigma of getting treatment at a rehab centre.

Some had a 9-5 job and couldn't take the time off because they didn't want anyone to know their secret.

Then there were others who had a high level of anxiety "who find it hard to even talk about it on the phone". It was that group who benefited from an online courses.

Getting treatment from the comfort of your own home was not something ordinarily done because until now it was believed face-to-face was the best method.

"There has definitely been a shift in thinking in that regard."

For Mr Nagle, the course simply uses technology to help people get clean. and it's needed now more than ever.

"It's timely because it seems drug and alcohol abuse rates just keep climbing and access to the publicly-funded services are just so stretched," he said.

"We are changing the game, providing access to support for potentially thousands of Australians that haven't been able to access this type of service before."

A report earlier this year revealed methamphetamine and cocaine use had increased in Australia over the last 12 months. Cocaine and heroin use is higher in Australia's major cities, but fentanyl and methamphetamine use is higher in its rural and regional towns, The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report said.

Ms Taylor said the course had already helped her when she needed it most.

"I've been clean for some time now, but I've had relapses. My little brother died three months (ago). It was absolutely devastating for me and still is, and I went on a bender."

Jekyll and Hyde "absolutely 100 per cent" saved her. "It gives you methods to get strong and really able to fight for the long term … We all fall so you need someone to pick you up," Ms Taylor said.

And its unique approach was needed now more than ever.

"We need to scrap these 1960s views on a problem that is affecting 2018," Ms Taylor added.

- To access help and support visit realdrugtalk.com.au