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Experiences with Cannabis

Preferred Name: Sydalicious

Gender: Female

Age: 44

Background:

Sydalicious works in the health sector and does volunteer work for her local council. She’s single and has a son. She describes her ethnic background as ‘Australian’: she was born in Australia, her father was born in Austria and her mother in New Zealand.

Brief Outline:

Sydalicious started smoking cannabis when she was in her late teens and has smoked it intermittently since then. When she was in her twenties, she started taking speed and ecstasy fairly regularly but she no longer takes either of these. She’s tried various kinds of drug treatment including short residential detoxes, home detoxes and counselling. A few years before the interview, she was badly injured in a road accident. To manage the pain associated with her injuries, she smokes small amounts of cannabis, takes homeopathic medication and receives acupuncture.

Sydalicious's Story:

Sydalicious leads a full and active life, working in the health sector and volunteering for her local council. She’s single and has a son, with whom she’s very close and he often stays with her over weekends and holidays. She’s passionate about improving health services and in the future, she plans to continue ‘offering what [she] can to [health] services and individuals’.

Sydalicious started smoking cannabis with her best friend when she was in her late teens and has smoked it intermittently since then. When she was in her mid-twenties she started working as a bartender and befriended a regular customer, who introduced her to speed. The customer was involved in producing speed and she says she became his regular ‘taste tester’, testing the quality of the speed produced in his ‘amphetamines factory’. She later began injecting speed. During this time, she was partying regularly and, along with speed, took ecstasy to enhance her experience of partying.

When she was in her late twenties, and studying for a diploma, she discovered she was pregnant. While pregnant she stopped taking speed intravenously. After the birth of her child, her relationship with her partner ended. By this stage, Sydalicious had almost completed her diploma and remembers coping as a single parent with ‘the baby in her arms’ during her final year of study. Some time later she resumed taking speed and ecstasy. When her child was a few years old, Sydalicious decided to go into detox, where she says she learnt how to manage stress and the feeling that she ‘need[ed] to use [drugs]’.

In her early forties, Sydalicious was badly injured in a road accident. At the time she was abstinent and did not want to be given any drugs for pain relief. She recalls ‘fighting […] the doctors and surgeons at every step of the way […] because all they want to give you is hardcore pain relief’. She was prescribed OxyContin® (oxycodone) and after taking it for several months, gradually ‘weaned’ herself off it and went into a short residential detox to assist her to ‘come off that last bit’. She confronted the same concern about becoming dependent on prescription medication when she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Her psychiatrist prescribed dexamphetamine, which she describes as ‘pure speed tablets’ and as ‘addictive’. After quitting speed, Sydalicious was very reluctant to take a prescription amphetamines and avoids taking dexamphetamine daily, opting to take it only on days when she ‘needs to focus’.

Since her first detox Sydalicious has had several experiences of drug treatment, including home detoxes, residential detoxes and AOD counselling, and no longer takes speed or ecstasy. She smokes small amounts of cannabis some evenings for pain relief. She also uses alternative forms of pain treatment, such as homeopathy and acupuncture.

At the time of the interview, she was in the process of starting her own consulting business, which she hopes will give her the flexibility to continue her voluntary work.

Read more...

Sydalicious (F, 44, works in the health sector, cannabis) completed a residential detox because she was concerned that her consumption was affecting her child.

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Part 1

When my son was about two-and-a-half, I was right into party drugs and I was going out [taking ecstasy…] I’d be like [at] 7 o’clock in the morning in the lounge room with doof doof [music] going. And it wasn’t actually until I turned around to my absolutely gorgeous boy, who was leaning over the back of the couch, smiling going like this. And I just turned around and went, ‘Rah rah rah’, and I just was my dad. I was my dad. And I looked in his eyes and I saw the fear, and I felt the fear that I felt as a child, and that’s when I rang up the detox.

Part 2

The decision was just easy […] Looking into my son’s eyes and making him feel that scared, seeing that in his eyes.

Sydalicious says it was a ‘shock’ when she was told she didn’t need AOD counselling any more as she valued having someone to talk to.

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It was six and a half years I had with that lady and she was fantastic, you know. And then I was told I don’t need drug and alcohol counselling any more. And that was like a shock because I’d had this therapy once a week that I could go and talk to someone about everything. And just that one person for all those years, you know. And I’m like, ‘Oh okay, so you’re just dumping me. You can’t do that. I need my vent’. And yeah, I may not be needing drug and alcohol counselling and I know there’s heaps of people that do need it. However, I need to still talk about things so that I can maintain [my current level of consumption] you know?

Sydalicious calls on her spiritual beliefs to avoid taking speed and painkillers.

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There are other ways to deal with pain. It’s easier just to take a tablet, but when you’re finding […] a certain way of life that you’ve been leading, and you don’t want that certain way any more, it’s really hard to swap everything around. You know it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience with yourself. And will, a lot of God’s will. A lot of handing it over to something greater than yourself. And that was something that I actually learnt in my early days in recovery. You know, there’s something much greater than myself. And I guess for me a question that popped into my mind if I think about, Oh God, I’m bored. I really should go and score. You know, like on the odd occasion […] I just ask myself, ‘Will God be happy with this decision or wouldn’t he?’

Sydalicious initially avoided medication treatment for ADHD but now finds it helps her to focus and complete her daily tasks.

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Even now, like, after being diagnosed with ADHD over a period of nearly five years by my psychiatrist, to be prescribed dexamphetamine, is really, like, there’s that battle again for me. Like, I really know where I was [when I was taking speed and] why I’m not [taking it any more], but they’re offering me pure speed tablets. And yeah, agreed, you know, it took a long time for me to accept the script [for dexamphetamine], and I don’t pick them up regularly and I don’t take them regularly because they’re addictive […But] they do help my ADHD when I need to focus and, like, not be running around the room. [They help me focus] on one thing. So, for that reason, you know, I understand why I’ve been prescribed them, so I will take them for that reason. There are some days where I wake up and go, ‘Oh, there’s no way I’m getting out of bed,’ and, like, I’ve got appointments or whatever; two dexamphetamines and I don’t even realise that I’ve gotten up and had a shower, had my breakfast and I’m out the door. So I’m focused, you know? […But] I’m really aware of not abusing them.