I am a 22 year old girl. I completed year 12, completed a diploma in community welfare work, worked for the Department of Communities and other drug and alcohol organisations. I have traveled around Europe and currently study at university while working full-time as a health promotion welfare worker. I rent my own unit on the beach and have a great social network. I am also the only child of 2 heroin addicts…

I was asked to write my story. I don’t think there will be enough paper as you can imagine my life has been a rollercoaster! So I’ll give you a brief run down…here we go. It was 1989 I came into the world (5lbs 11oz ). My mum was on methadone and my “dad/ sperm donor” was using heroin and was also a heavy pot smoker. Being born in 1989, hep C wasn’t recognized yet. 21 years later I had a blood test done and was diagnosed with hep C. Hep C is usually not passed on through birth, in saying that, my birth was complicated and there was blood to blood contact. My father was a very violent man, he use to beat mum up constantly. He would come home crying saying he was sorry blah blah. The police didn’t do much.. DVO after DVO Mum finally left him when I was 3 years old. Mum met my step dad, who I know as Dad, and we moved to Southport to live with him. He was a heroin dealer and mum was an earner so I guess they made a good team. They both decided to do earns on shopping centres (they believed that breaking into people’s houses was bad, but shops was ok). Dad wasn’t the best thief; mum just had a knack for it. I was her 5’8 – with this I would be the distracter while mum would do the work. She would never let me take anything, she was good like that.

It was great as a kid anything I wanted she would say “load up the trolley”. Jewelry shops where definitely a favorite for mum, as one decent earn would go a long way. These were long days, not just your average 9 to 5 job. Sometimes this would be driving to and from Brisbane 3 times a day. I was at school for year 1, only did about 2 months and then moved to a different school and stayed there for about 1 month. 

I hated it there so mum and dad decided to go up to the sunny coast to dry out. Mum got a phone call from nan saying that she had just saw them in the paper and they were wanted for over 200 charges. I guess that’s when shit got crazy. We were on the run. The ‘dry out’ went out the window.. hotels, motels, holiday apartments ,friends places, you name it I’ve stayed there. I guess the one thing I can always say I had was a roof over my head, food in my belly and shoes on my feet. Eventually 6 months later dad finally got pinched. We were in a car chase from a shopping centre in Brisbane. We cut through cow paddocks and pinched a car which was on gas – ha ha that was interesting. 

So at 6 years old mum decided I should go live with nan, and I was off to go and learn how to be a kid? I had 6 bags of clothes and toys, “only the best” my mother would say. I had a gold chain around my neck, bracelets and a ring. I started year 2 in Brisbane. This was strange since I hadn’t really been around kids my own age for a while. I quickly fitted in. I had learnt how to do this very well growing up – how to say, act or even smile the right way to get what I wanted and I learnt how to talk my way out of things.

Mum had found a new co-earner and was earning on the GC. She would come pick me up on the weekends and we would go shopping! I used to love some aspects of it, it was all very exciting for me. I would always be fearful though of mum getting locked up which hadn’t happened yet. A year went by, Dad got out, they got their own place, and I came home and started school on the coast. Mum decided to start dealing, earning was getting too hard. Mum was the brains and dad was the run around. Everything was going well. Mum would treat this as a 9-5 job. I was at school, started horse riding, life was good. Mum would always come home with new TV’s, computers, gold, you name it. I would write a list of anything I wanted and I would get everything on it. It was great for about 6 months.

Dad isn’t the best criminal. He has always been in situations where police have beaten him up. He loves to run, my father, and if the opportunity comes up where he might be getting locked up its “come and get me! catch me if you can”. I can remember one time when he had been beaten up by the cops, we picked him up and stayed in a hotel in Ballina. You can imagine how big hotel rooms are. Dad had a shot and dropped to the ground, he was covered in bandages and a sling. Mum was screaming and didn’t want to call the ambulance. I dragged him into the shower and gave him mouth to mouth. He finally came back around.

Anyway, so getting back to it, my parents would buy in bulk, if you get the drift, so as he was flying back, the police had gotten wind of it and grabbed him when he landed. He ran and was tackled by police and security. He was beaten badly. As one of the officers was kicking him, the gun fell out of his holster. Dad grabbed the gun and yelled for them to get off him. This was originally classed as ‘attempted murder’ and then dropped to serious assault on a police officer. Dad got bail and once again went on the run. Not just around Queensland this time but overseas. Mum had saved approximately $50,000, as well as credit cards and we flew over to the UK. I was 10 at the time. Mum had brought over enough gear and they were planning on stopping when it ran out. We bought a camper van and started traveling around Europe looking for a place to live and start setting up our lives. Our trip came to a stand still when the gear ran out. Where else better to go than Amsterdam? So there we stayed for about 8 months. The money was running out quickly and mum and I wanted to go home. So the plan was mum and I would come home, make some more money, and fly back over. 

During this time, Dad’s father was sick in the Philippines. He flew over there to be with him and we met him over there. Dad was coming back to Australia to organize a medical plane to bring his father back to Australia. In coming back, dad was arrested at the airport and locked up for 4 years. His father died a few weeks later. Mum and I battled along, we are survivors you see. Mum was dealing and we had a driver who became part of our family and my brother from another mother. 

Mum bought a house, I had a horse and was settled in school. Everything was running smoothly 14 now, dad came home and the police started watching us. Then the worst day of my life happened. I remember it like yesterday. 12 police officers bashed through the door at 5am. A street block was put up. I was strip searched. NSW and QLD police, cameras, dogs. I get goose bumps writing about it. They took mum and dad away. I was left in the house on my own. The coppa said to me, and I remember it so well, “the next time you’ll see your parents is when you’re locked up with them. If you’re not picked up in an hour, i’ll be calling DOCS and I don’t want to do the paperwork so make sure you’re not here”.

My parents were extradited to Sydney and I had to call my ‘oh so innocent’ grandmother who had no idea what was going on. I had gear and $15,000 on me and was on my way to Brisbane. I was on the phone to solicitors, banks, watch houses, you name it. The police came to my school and tried to get a statement out of me. They tricked the school to let them in. You can imagine my reaction! I was dragged out the front in handcuffs, and from that day on I’m pretty sure the whole school knew. 

The court case went on for 3 years, 36 adjournments, 36 goodbyes and hoping that I would see them again. The bank took the house, we had 2 Mercedes Benz cars and a Jaguar, everything was gone. I had a bag of clothes to my name. Dad was sent to a rehab in Cairns and mum came home. 

We had no money, and she wasn’t dealing again. Mum and I lived in our place while the bank was making the settlements with no power and no petrol to drive me to school. The church was dropping us around food boxes. Mum started using benzos heavily. Zannys, vals everything. Suboxone had just started being prescribed and she managed to come up with $50 to get on the program. After this mum went into a deep depression. With help from the director of a rehab on the coast, she used her last $250 centrelink paycheck to get herself down to Sydney and was admitted into Oddessy house. I started living with a close friend of mine and carried on my life. She left after 5 weeks and came back to Qld.
Dad came home, I moved back home and they continued using and dealing a little. Eventually just living on centrelink and doing a few little earns here and there, which would result in police visits blah blah blah…

This is a brief outline of my story. If I had more paper I’m sure I would have a novel at the age of 10 years. Police raids, hiding in car parks, car chases, jail visits, police stations/cars, court rooms….. the list goes on and there’s a story to go with all of them. Ha ha, there’s always a story!

This is where I come from. I have had to do so much work on myself, everything from relationships to re-learning morals and principles. Even to the extent of having a ‘normal’ routine? As a kid I was made to do counselling, haha. I use to go in and tell them my story just to spin them out. Today I have a fantastic counsellor that I have been seeing for just over a year now. I am learning how to show emotions and how to deal with them. I have never touched drugs in my life- pot once and I drink occasionally. I guess for me I knew I would like drugs, so if I didn’t do it, I didn’t know what I was missing out on? My parents were very big on that – if I ever touched drugs they would have killed me. Mum said she would take me to Alice Springs and tie me to a tree, ha ha.

Mum and I are close. We have our ups and down but we manage. Dad is very disconnected from the world, doesn’t really like people, hates the government and the rest. I would never take back anything that I have been through in my life. 

I work as a drug and alcohol worker at QuIHN and if it hadn’t have been for my past I don’t think I would have the insight, strength, compassion or empathy that I do now. I’m not saying growing up was easy but I didn’t know any different. It’s only now that I can reflect on it and how crazy it really was.  I am growing and understanding more everyday. A big thing for me growing up, I could never understand why my parents would always’ choose’ drugs over me. My mum had 5 miscarriages due to her drug use and as a kid that is something I could never understand.

A Police officer said to me once: “heroin is the only thing that will separate a mother from her baby” and she was right. I have seen both sides of the fence and I am grateful for that. The only thing I feel I missed out on was actually being a kid. I had to grow up fast and now at 22 years I’m well beyond my years.

I love my parents and I thank them in some respect for showing me the life they didn’t want me to have. Everyday I’m doing work on myself to make sure the cycle of addiction doesn’t continue with me.

By Anon