Unassuming and gentle in nature, Sharon* took her first hit of the drug that was to rule her life when she was just 15 years old. “We were at a party and some friends thought it would be a great idea to initiate me,” the now-45-year-old mother of three says as we chat in the kitchen of her weatherboard in Sydney’s western suburbs.
“I didn’t really think much of it at first, but every time I got together with those friends, I tried a little more and then before I knew it, taking another hit was the first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes in the morning, and it was the last thing I thought about when I went to bed and here we are.”
Here we are indeed. As Sharon and I wait for her kettle to boil, she lays out a stack of paperwork for me to look over. There are bills for rego, utilities, school fees and demands to meet the mortgage payments she’s falling behind on – many of them, I can’t help note, are marked in red with PAY IMMEDIATELY stamped on them.
Just as telling are the bills she doesn’t have on display. “I got rid of our health insurance and comprehensive car insurance a while back,” she tells me quietly. “I just couldn’t afford to pay them any longer.”
As we run through her figures, it immediately becomes clear why she can’t meet payments. Working as a sales assistant, Sharon earns $48,000 after tax, but spends at least $14,000 of that to score. “It usually works out to around $250 – $300 a week but it can sometimes be more if I’m stressed or having a bad week,” she admits, head hung low.
With her remaining $600 – $650, Sharon has to pay her mortgage, bills, school expenses and other lifestyle costs and, as Sharon herself admits, it’s nowhere near enough. “Most weeks, I find I have less than $100 a week to put food on the table for my family,” she says. “I usually have to put off paying bills in order to keep everyone well looked after – it’s tough.”
This article was originally published by Honey.nine.com.au.