HIGH on ice and heroin, 24-year-old drug addict Alex thought he was Ozzy Osbourne.
"That's the madness behind it," said Alex.
Alex is undergoing two weeks of detox at Serenity House at Sulphur Creek and appears as a quietly spoken, serious young man genuine in his struggle to get his life back.
On the advice of his drug support worker he has asked for his last name not to be published.
He is just taking the first steps of what he hopes to be his long-term rehabilitation and does not want this time to define the rest of his life.
"A month or two of abstinence and a couple of classes can't undo all the years of drug abuse, it takes a lot more than that, and it takes addressing the underlying reasons for taking drugs," Alex said.
"There is a reason people use drugs and alcohol and it's not just because they like drugs and alcohol - there is always something behind why they want to escape."
He fidgets and runs his hands through his hair as he talks candidly about his 10-year addiction to drugs and booze that could have killed him and still could unless he gets clean.
Alex's devastating spiral into worsening addiction started when he was 14 at school.
He knows now that he was self-medicating in order to get relief from some of the crippling symptoms of his then-undiagnosed depression and anxiety.
To cope with life Alex drank alcohol and used a mixture of drugs that have included at various times in his life cannabis, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and finally the drug he says was his undoing, ice.
Ice can make you feel like the person you should always be for a while but after about eight hours on ice and as soon as you bring sleep deprivation in over several days, that's when hell unwinds- Alex
After alcoholism, cannabis, cocaine and heroin taking ice was worse
"I only really used ice this year and that's when my life unravelled completely," Alex said.
"After all the other drug and alcohol abuse, yes it landed me in a lot of trouble, but it wasn't until I used ice did my mind really unravel, and did I really come to the end of what seemed like my sanity ..."
His supportive family tried to help Alex, but without treatment for his mental health issues he always started back down a familiar path to self-destruction.
"I have a great family but just dealing with mental illness as a teenager and not seeing anyone: it meant I turned to drugs and alcohol because they helped," he said. "By the time I was 20 I was a pretty heavy drinker and taking whatever drugs I could get my hands on. As I got older and I got a job and could pay for drugs all my money was going towards it."
He hit bottom recently.
Alex said there had always been a part of him that said he would not steal to feed his drug habit until he did it.
"I only did it once or twice when everything started to unwind in my life," he said, clearly disturbed by an admission of stealing.
His mother's voice changed to a voice he'd never heard before
"When my mother's voice changed to a voice that I had never heard before that's when I knew, that's when I knew," Alex said and dropped his gaze to the floor.
"She said I love you but I don't like you and that really sealed it, and I thought if my mother feels that way ..."
Alex is a beautiful, intelligent, articulate boy with the world in front of him and it's tragic- Support worker Janette Jensen
Alex talks about having an addictive personality.
"A bad day dealing with addiction is waking up terrified at the world and at everything; and the only way out is to self-destruct with drugs," Alex said.
Support worker Janette Jensen, supervisor at the Serenity House sobering up unit, has heard hundreds of tragic stories of addiction and says it's hard to witness lives ruined by drugs.
"Alex is a beautiful, intelligent, articulate boy with the world in front of him and it's tragic," she said.
During his worst period of drinking Alex drank multiple bottles of vodka a day.
"I don't really drink when I'm doing drugs because it always results in hospitalisation," he said. "Using opiates landed me in hospital many times.
"Ice isn't like heroin and it isn't like alcohol in the sense most people [on ice] want to be up and happy and doing things.
"That's what amphetamines gives you at first and ice gives you ten times more than any other.
"Which is what appeals to people rather than doing heroin that makes you want to nod off and drop out of life.
"Ice can make you feel like the person you should always be for a while but after about eight hours on ice and as soon as you bring sleep deprivation in over several days, that's when hell unwinds."
Alex said ice was accessible and cheap and a powerful high.
He does not believe giving parents the power to force their addict children into mandatory detox is the answer to solving addiction.
Independent Burnie senator Jacqui Lambie has spoken of her ice-addicted 21-year-old son's plight and has called for the mandatory detox of children, but Alex said it wouldn't work.
"You can't lock someone away and force them to get better in the head; it comes down to the person," he said.
Alex said there needed to be better education in schools regarding the impact of drug and alcohol addiction on real lives.
"I don't think young people are totally aware of what the outcome is from using drugs," Alex said.
"When I went to school, drug education was a very brief thing ... I think you really have to come down hard on it and kids need to meet people that have been through it - that's the only way to get through.
"One way of getting them the right help is more early intervention by meeting people they can relate to.
"You can scare kids with the information, but to talk to someone whose been through it has more impact and it's real."
Alex goes to Missiondale today for rehab and he says he wants to stay for as long as it takes.
"I hope to stick to the program as long as I need to and it could be 12 months," he said.
Mrs Jensen checks if Alex is all right after bringing up things he might not want to remember. He is pale and seems drained and tired as he sits in a comfortable lounge area at Serenity House.
The detox unit's assistance dog Bailey goes to sit beside Alex and nuzzles into him gently.
Serenity House offers a warm, safe place to those that can get a bed when they need it most.
Upstairs has lovely views of the ocean and downstairs the garden and kitchen and dining area are nice places to be.
"We're good listeners," Mrs Jensen said.
"Bailey always seems to know who needs a hug.
"What Alex didn't tell you about is his withdrawal which was major, horrific stuff.
"As a general rule for ice it takes from three days to two weeks to come off it and you feel like crap but the physical withdrawal is not as bad as it is with alcohol or morphine."
"But sadly, psychologically with ice withdrawal it can be 18 months or two years which is why so many people do a short detox, get out and use again."
■ Rehab provider City Mission has applied for funding to establish a 12-bed residential rehabilitation facility on the North-West.
Serenity House is a two-week drug and alcohol time-out service but Mrs Jensen said there's a desperate need for more rehab beds, with 15 to 20 people on their waiting list.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government would fund 12 extra rehabilitation beds in the state, with a priority on delivering new services to the North-West, as part of a four-year, $4.8 million commitment that will also pay for two new Alcohol and Drug Services employees, at Ulverstone and Launceston.
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