An inspiring mother-of-four has partnered with Police and a local high school to share with students her journey as a recovering methamphetamine addict.
Feilding High School students are still talking about 27-year-old Jamie’s visit, the story of her addiction - and her passion for preventing others from going down the same path as her.
It all started at an addiction programme run by Robyn Duncan, from Manchester House Social Services (family/whānau support), that Constable Allan McLean and Senior Constables John Samuela and Allan Wells have been supporting coming up a year.
Jamie says she felt privileged when Allan McLean asked her to speak with the students as part of their alcohol and drug harm education sessions.
“I want to do everything I can to prevent anyone going down the same path as I did," she says.
“I first tried meth in mid-2016 and I was hooked. Three months later I was in a bad place – I lost my kids, was taking 1.5 grams every day, and spending all my money on meth.
“My kids are my everything but they got taken away from me because of my selfishness for my addiction.”
The following year Jamie found she was pregnant and stopped taking the drug.
“Unfortunately I made the decision to try it at a social gathering nearly two years later and that’s when my addiction flared up again,” she says.
“I thought I was good at hiding my addiction and told myself that I could function normally.
“I will always remember the day I asked for help – I was at one of the lowest points in my life when I realised that it didn’t have to be this hard.
“I was so scared that if I asked for help my kids would be taken away, but for me to get better and be the mum they deserve, this had to happen.”
With support from her and her then-partner’s families she arrived at Manchester House, determined to get off meth. Jamie entered rehab and has now been clean seven months and counting - an achievement recorded by a helpful social media app.
“Before becoming addicted to meth I was one of those people that thought 'Why can’t people just quit?'
“But it’s not that easy and, once you fully understand addiction - or in my case have been addicted yourself - you learn to appreciate this as well as recognise the triggers.
“Rehab and the support from Manchester House, especially the amazing Robyn, was an important part of my journey. I am loving life now that I am clean. Being off drugs makes life so much easier and more enjoyable.
“Recovery is possible and it’s beautiful. I am now the mum my kids deserve.
“When I met Allan and the other officers through the Manchester House programme, myself and other recovering addicts were distrustful of their presence and thought we might not be able to fully open up.
“After the third week of them being there we realised that it was the complete opposite. They were there to understand our experiences and offer their support.”
Allan (McLean), John and Constable Mike Linton also present the alcohol and drug awareness sessions to students.
“It’s really effective having Jamie along to share her story. Sometimes our police messaging doesn’t always resonate. Partnering with Jamie really enhances the impact we can have around drug education and awareness,” says Allan.
“Jamie’s contribution to our session is invaluable and the feedback from the school has been overwhelmingly positive from students and teachers alike. They want her back again to share her story with more students.”
Jamie is looking forward to continuing supporting Police, the school, and the students, and pursuing a career in mental health and addiction support.
“I really wish I had sessions like this when I was at school to make me aware of the dangers," she says. "My message to the students is simple – don’t ever try it - even after one go you can become addicted.
“Addiction doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone. But help is always there - all you have to do is take that leap and ask.”