'It drags you under': Former meth user says addiction is a mental health issue, not criminal

Meth, P
Rachael Wilde spoke candidly to Ryan Bridge about the effect meth addiction had on her life. Photo credit: File

The street price of methamphetamine is dropping, but not due to a lack of demand.

New research from Massey University shows the price for a gram of meth has dropped to a record low, despite a number of hugely successful seizures at the border this year.

Although the price of the drug has declined to its lowest on record, the most significant drop has hit the South Island. In its main centres, a gram of meth can be purchased for as low as $450.

One woman who is all too familiar with the damage meth can cause is recovered addict Rachael Wild. She used the drug regularly for more than a decade, becoming fully addicted in the last few years of her habit. 

She described the significant price drop as "scary". 

"When I was using, I could probably get it at that price for a gram because of the people I was associated with," Wild revealed in a candid interview with Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge on Tuesday.

"However, that wasn't the going rate for a gram of meth... it shows me that the country is absolutely flooded with [meth], for people to be able to sell it so cheap."

Wild said meth started out as a "social thing" before gradually intensifying due to her addictive personality, resulting in a habit that lasted 14 years.

"I never knew the effects of it or the damage it could cause," she told Magic Talk.

"Fourteen years is a long time to use for, [so] I've done some damage to my brain in that time - my memory isn't good, things like that."

Wild admitted discounted drugs were available to her through her gang association, its accessibility allowing her to support her meth use.

"It was through my associates - my kid's father - so it was accessible most of the time. But there were always those times when it wasn't, so that's when crime was involved," Wild said.

"I'm not proud of those things at all."

Wild claimed she wasn't charged for the crime she participated in, but said "illegal activity" helped to support her addiction during the last three to four years of her habit.

Wild said meth affects different users in different ways. She knew people who gave up the class A drug "just like that", and said she herself was able to maintain a relatively normal life as a regular user for roughly a decade - until her habit spiralled into addiction.

"It starts to drag you under more and more. I didn't use it on an everyday basis like I did towards the end of my using...if you've got an addictive personality, it hooks you in, and that's when you have to support your habit," she shared.

Eventually, Wild's abusive relationship, near-death experiences and the loss of her children made her realise she'd "had enough".

"There was a moment I was caught up in a situation with some pretty dangerous people doing some pretty crazy stuff, I was lucky to come out of that alive," she told Bridge.

"I was also in an abusive relationship which was fuelled by meth, I was just about killed twice. Child Youth and Family were ready to take my children off me, but my family ended up stepping in and taking them. 

"I'm not proud [that] I lost my children to my addiction as well. I put my children through some very dangerous and horrific situations that I've had to forgive myself for.

"Those were my real pushers. I knew if I didn't stop I wouldn't be sitting here today, I'd be sitting in a jail cell or six-feet under the ground."

Now three years clean, Wild has been able to take back two of her three daughters into full-time care and has developed an "amazing relationship" with her oldest daughter, who she sees every weekend and speaks to daily.

"I talk to them a lot about that stuff, especially as I was out of their life for a while," Wild said.

She has made a point of speaking openly to her daughters about her past in a bid to educate them about drugs and addiction, in the hope that her honesty will prevent them from "going down the same track".

Wild said that despite the stigma, addicts and recovering addicts are "not bad people".

"We've made mistakes and bad choices, but addiction is a mental health issue... [New Zealand is] not winning. We need to be treating this as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue.

"At the end of the day, I'm grateful to be sitting on the other side of it as an anti-meth advocate."

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