Confessions of an ice addict

THE instant Justin Light took his first hit of ice, he knew it would take everything from him.

For the next 12 months, he spent every second thinking about ice: how to get it and how to pay for it. In just 12 months, the 20-year-old meatworker and concreter spent $180,000 on the drug. He lost his car, his licence, his friends, his job and, nearly, his life.

"I knew I was going to lose everything," he said.

"I knew I was going to dedicate my life to buying it. My idea was that I'd rather use speed but it wasn't around no more (sic) so I thought, 'oh well, I'll just give ice a go, surely I'll be able to give it up'."

"That night I was so high off one smoke I didn't sleep the whole night. The next night it might have been two tokes, the next night it might have been three.

"She's good, it's so quick, you have that feeling of the euphoria, that rush, the everything. "The feeling is - you fall in love and you know you're gone. My mates at school they all say the same thing, it was that first one, we knew then we were fucked."

Ice addict Justin Light, pictured with his mum Evelyn, has a strong message for anyone daring to try the drug: “Don't even go near it, it will grab hold of you, it will kill you, I'm one of the lucky ones.” Picture: Lachie Millard
Ice addict Justin Light, pictured with his mum Evelyn, has a strong message for anyone daring to try the drug: “Don't even go near it, it will grab hold of you, it will kill you, I'm one of the lucky ones.” Picture: Lachie Millard

Mr Light reached his lowest point in March this year when police pulled him over in Roma, about 550km west of Brisbane. He said police told him it was a random check but he believes he was targeted and they were expecting to find drugs.

"I had them in my hand and didn't even try to hide them, I didn't care," he said.

"I knew it was time for me to go and only for that happening I know I wouldn't be here today. If I was never caught, I would have been dead I swear to that. I didn't like the police in the beginning, I hated them but looking at them now, I wouldn't be here today doing this, I wouldn't be getting the message across to people who need this information to get off ice."

At the time of his arrest, Mr Light was living in Ipswich with his father but travelling back to Roma on weekends to stay with his mother and party with other ice-addicted friends.

His mother, Evelyn, had watched terrified for months as her son's behaviour grew increasingly erratic and paranoid. She barely recognised him as the drug became his sole waking obsession.

On several occasions, he ordered his mother to not use the toilet as he had drugs hidden down there. Mr Light estimates he flushed thousands of dollars worth of meth away as he became increasingly paranoid that police drones were hovering above the house day and night.

He also flooded the backyard one day after he ripped open the plumbing system to retrieve an ice pipe. Mrs Light noticed other strange things like lights being smashed, broken glass strewn around her yard and strange people turning up at all hours, especially women looking for drugs who her son called "crack sheilas".

"I knew what they were after, they just wanted the drugs and they had boyfriends as well and I didn't want to get mixed up with that," Mrs Light said.

"I put a stop to that though when one of them stole my Havaianas. I came out the back and my thongs were gone and she just left me her cheap, crappy pair. That was it."


Mr Light turned to the drug to help him physically cope with working two demanding jobs. A fellow concreter offered him his first smoke and then became his drug dealer. At the height of his addiction he was spending $450 a day on ice.

After his arrest, he searched for weeks for a rehabilitation centre to take him and was finally accepted into a Salvation Army centre in Brisbane. Mr Light said he took his last smoke of ice as he got out of the car to enter detox.

After two weeks of detox he moved to the rehabilitation centre and has been clean for three months. Mr Light said there were about 100 people in rehabilitation but there was a high turnover with up to 40 leaving each week - as they could not handle being off the drug.

"In detox they have a fence and this guy wanted to get out to get a hit so he's ripped the fence open and jumped off a two-storey building, he ran off and hasn't been back, he left all his stuff in the cupboard," Mr Light said.

"I'm in rehab with a murderer now, murdered his father when he was 16 - shot his old man between the eyes. I've heard bad stories in there a lot worse than out in Roma but it's getting out there."

Mr Light said he was now committed to speaking out about the dangers of the drug to stop young people following his path because he knew how easily and quickly the drug could wreck lives.

"It's that one hit, that one try, that starts off with you using ice with all your mates and in the end you're using it on the toilet by yourself with no one around you because no one will put up with you, that's the scary part," he said.

"As an addict you'll pull someone else into it because you don't want to go down alone, you know you're going down but who wants to go down alone who wants to go broke?"