‘I lost everything’: Reformed ice addict’s warning to youth
AFTER 13-years of ice addiction Jose Porcia had lost everything.
He had become homeless between stints in jail, committing petty crimes to support his addiction - a long fall from grace for the university-educated former finance worker.
Jose said it was back in 2003 when he had a thriving career in Sydney that a friend had first offered him the drug.
The selling point was that is was the drug for "successful people", something the friend claimed would boost the then 33-year-old's creativity and performance at work.
But his spiral into addiction was quick, and within two weeks Jose said he was chasing down a dealer.
"My career was taken away from me because I tried the drug once. All my education and everything I had learned didn't matter anymore," Jose said.
"It took everything away from me one by one, including my family.
"During that thirteen years of addiction I'd been homeless, I'd been in prison, and I was stealing. One day it took an act of God - for lack of a better word - the police, and the courts to say you know what, we've tried everything with you."
Jose was ordered by the courts to be rehabilitated at Coffs Harbour's Adele House, where he has since successfully managed to stay clean.
He was working at Adele Training Farm when he heard Andre'a Simmons, CEO of the Australian Anti-Ice Campaign, speaking on radio about the charity's Community Ice Action Teams.
Now Jose is hoping to share his experiences to educate local youth against using ice as the team leader of the newly formed Coffs Harbour Community Ice Action Team.
Coffs Harbour recently recorded a spike in ice possession by almost 1000 per cent - from 15 incidents in 2009 to 163 in 2018.
"We have a team of five locals who have a lived experience of ice addiction and who are prepared to share with high school students just how it destroyed their lives.
"The message we want to get out to the kids is to not use the drug, not even once. We're trying to tackle it from the other end because trying to get addicts recovered has a success rate that is quite low."
"When you get out of rehab and exercise your free will you will more often than not go back to using it."
The five team members are undergoing training before they begin presenting at local high schools.
"It's not uncommon to see three generations in one family using ice. Some of the team members started because their partners were using it, some grew up with it, others were introduced by friends.
"The five of us have varied experiences but the recovery is all the same."
Jose said it is expected the team, who are based at Salvation Army church, will begin presenting at local schools from November.
The Royal Commission into the use of ice is currently under way in NSW and will this week hear evidence of the use of the drug among those being held in jail, and those under community supervision.