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Mother calls for public warnings after hot shot hell

Monday, 12th May, 2014

By Michael Murphy

A mother whose son’s life spiralled out of control after he smoked a “hot shot of ice” says authorities should warn the public when a bad batch of drugs hits the streets of Broken Hill.

She also revealed her six-month struggle to get her son back from the brink, and her frustration about the lack of resources and compassion for families battling drug addiction.

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noticed that her son was “not right” in August last year.

“He was still working but you could see that he was going downhill fast ... he was all over the place ... he was fanatical,” she said.

The problem reached fever pitch when she got a call from her brother, telling her that her son was posting weird messages on Facebook.

When she went around to her son’s place, he was “zombie-like”.

“I couldn’t talk to him and couldn’t get any sense out of him and he threatened to hit me, which has never happened before.

“I rang the police, they said ring the ambulance, I rang the ambulance, and they said ring the police,” she said.

“I rang the police again and said ‘the ambulance will not come unless you come’ ... I just broke down and said my son is in a really bad way, so they ended up agreeing to meet the ambulance.”

Her son was admitted to the mental health unit at the local hospital.

“During that time he wasn’t even sure who I was ... and that’s when this doctor said to me about this hotshot,” she said.

The psychiatrist told her that others were presenting to the hospital with the same symptoms, and that they knew it was methamphetamine, but they didn’t know what had been mixed with it to make the “hot shot”.

The mental health unit, which has six beds, was full.

She said her son was “doped up” in hospital for five weeks, but when he got out he was “not right” ... it was as if he was still on drugs. But she knew he wasn’t, and subsequent drugs tests proved that.

She tried to get him readmitted, but that was “near impossible”.

She believed the drugs they gave him - a six-month supply of Seroquel - was now causing her son’s problems, and her son was taking too much of it.

Her son tried to get into drug rehabilitation units in Sydney, Orange, Adelaide, and one near Mildura, but they had long waiting lists, some up to two years.

She said her son needed a letter from his caseworker to present to the rehab unit near Mildura for consideration, but the letter never came.

They had run out of options.

“People are going through this all the time in Broken Hill, not only in Broken Hill but everywhere ... and they have got nowhere to turn.

“I’ve seen mothers drive their teenage kids through the drive-through (for fast-food), and the kids are screaming at their parents and you know very well they are on ice because you learn to know the symptoms of it,” she said.

“You don’t know what to do ... you just live with it.

“If the hospital is full, you just can’t get them into hospital, and you have just got to live with it.”

One day, her son “stole” his own car keys and took off. He was headed to Adelaide to a rehab centre.

His mother was frantic. She did not know where he went.

His mother posted messages to truck drivers on Facebook and they eventually found him.

He had crashed just outside Orroroo, in the Flinders Rangers, South Australia.

He sat in his damaged car for 13 hours, fearing to get out because he was hallucinating.

Police then took him to a hospital in Peterborough.

His mother arrived and they waited three hours for a doctor, but one did not come.

She then left the hospital and drove her son all the way back to Broken Hill, and drove straight up to the local hospital.

They waited for another three hours while an after-hours video link was hooked up to a psychiatrist in Orange.

“And do you know what he said to me: ‘Tell him to go home and ring rehab and stop babying him’.”

During her son’s six-month ordeal, the mother said he saw six fly-in fly-out psychiatrists, and they all had a different opinion.

She said it was a “vicious circle”.

“They drug them up, get them settled, then send them out and then they just keep going back in,” she said.

“And I kept on going and I kept telling the doctors that he is not right.

“He is my son, I know what he was like prior to this.

“They finally worked out that it was the medication they were giving him (that was the problem).

“And as soon as they got him out of all that ... he was right as rain.

“He is wonderful.

“I was determined.”

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