Ex-ice addicts to warn Mandurah students of drug horrors

Mandurah Districts Rotary Club president Be Westbrook and district assistant governor Marg Pantall with Anti-ice campaign representatives Jay Birch and Talia Simpson-Birch.
Mandurah Districts Rotary Club president Be Westbrook and district assistant governor Marg Pantall with Anti-ice campaign representatives Jay Birch and Talia Simpson-Birch.

Ex-ice addicts will speak in Mandurah schools about their experiences, with the hope teenagers will avoid the highly addictive drug as part of a new national program.

In the coming months, the Australian Anti-Ice Campaign will launch phase one of its new program in West Australian schools from Rockingham down to Albany.

On Sunday, the group will 'Walk Against Ice' along the Mandurah foreshore, to raise money for the cause, in partnership with the Mandurah rotary clubs.

Anti-ice Campaign state manager Jay Birch said methamphetamine took control of his life and caused "unnecessary pain and suffering" for his loved ones.

"I spent five years as an ice addict," he said.

Ice tears adults lives apart, so what hope does a teenager have, out there?

Anti-ice campaign state manager Jay Birch

"I feel there's a need to educate our youth about the dangers of this drug.

"The stats say only 2 per cent of people get into long-term recovery after being an ice addict.

"Ice tears adults lives apart, so what hope does a teenager have, out there?"

Mr Birch said he started using methamphetamine in his late teens, after he was "given a smoke" by his workmate.

"I didn't know it was meth," he said.

I didn't even recognise my dad when he was using.

Talia Simpson-Birch

"I go to schools and say 'this is not a joke' - it's not recreational.

"It's all man-made and purely synthetic. It is extremely toxic and super addictive."

Mr Birch said getting arrested two days before his daughter's birthday was his "lowest point", which saw him make the effort to get clean.

"That was as low as I could go," he said.

"I resorted to crime. Most of the blokes end up doing crime and the girls end up in the sex industry.

"I was a slave to this drug, I forgot about my family. I was so consumed with this drug that in the end, I would do almost anything to get on.

"I'm very lucky I got arrested when I did. I had no logical thinking left. I just wasn't present and was acting without thinking.

"I'm now four-and-a-half years clean."

Mr Birch's daughter Talia Simpson-Birch said her dad was clear and present after he stopped using meth.

"It truly destroys people and turns them into what they are not," she said.

"It brings out a side you wouldn't believe was in them. I didn't even recognise my dad when he was using."

Ms Simpson-Birch said she hoped school children and teenagers realised how addictive meth was.

"Peer pressure comes into it and people think 'oh I will try it once', but it's not just once - it's highly addictive," she said.

Mr Birch said the Mandurah schools speakers would be visiting was not yet announced.

Mandurah Districts Rotary Club president Be Westbrook said meth had damaged many local families.

"That drug is something we need to be aware of," she said.

To join in the Walk Against Ice, which starts at 9am on Sunday, meet the group at Hall Park on the Western Foreshore near Kings Carnival.