A DESPERATE mother who locks her son in a cage to stop him using ice is a sign of “desperation and anguish” that could easily backfire, an addiction expert says.
The Queensland mother has installed a purpose-built $3000 cage in her home to keep her 17-year-old contained.
The cage has steel beams and poles that are kept in place by plates in the floor and the ceiling, but inside is a relatively normal room with a double bed and space to move.
She has told the Nine Network’s A Current Affair program her son had asked to be treated like a prisoner.
“He was crying in bed, and screaming for help. He said ‘Mum, Mum, you have to lock the cage, you have to lock the door’,” the mother said.
The teen, identified only as Wiley, said he lived in the cage to stop him from being “out of control” when high on ice.
“I would rather look at my mum as a jailer than be in a real jail. She went to a lot of effort, spent a lot of money,” he said.
An addiction expert spoken to by news.com.au said it was a graphic illustration of the depth of Australia’s ice addiction and also of the pressures treatment programs are under.
Sam Biondo, executive officer of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) told said the situation was unusual and “wrong at a range of levels”.
“It just shows desperation and anguish of many families and loved ones confront on a daily basis.”
Mr Biondo said there was a serious limitation on drug addiction treatment programs that often left people on waiting lists, and it was their families that were left to pick up the pieces.
“People will try anything. It’s a sign of desperation and anguish those loved ones might be feeling. But it’s inappropriate. Really if this is where we are getting to it’s a cry for more input from government to provide resources to let [treatment programs] be developed and enhanced.”
He said it could also be very dangerous to lock people up, even if it was done with the best of intentions and the persons consent.
“They wouldn’t know what the impact might be on (drug) withdrawal and state of mind if they go into some sort of crashing withdrawals. I would imagine there is a gross lack of understanding of what the medical consequences might be.”
RMIT University drugs expert, Dr James Rowe, said there was an urgent need for more funding for drug addiction treatment.
“They’re setting up a ‘dob a dealer’ program —which is only going to turn neighbors against each other —and the people who are suffering aren’t being provided for. If it really is tearing society apart and ravaging regional Australia, why can’t they bring in more treatment facilities in those places?”
Dr Rowe could understand how the Rockhampton family ended up in the situation they’re in. “When you’re addicted, you can’t stop yourself doing stuff, you’re ashamed of it and need someone to stop you, you need something put in place. But being locked in a room is not the answer, obviously.”
It showed the extent of the problem facing families grappling with ice in the community.
Dr Rowe told news.com.au as the potency of ice increased it was logical there would be similar extreme examples in the future.
“The more extreme the drug, the more toxic effect on the individual [then] the more extreme the measures might have to be.”
“Until you see ice rage first hand, you’ve got no idea what you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with a monster.”
Jack Nagle is a former ice user who, at the lowest point in his addiction, stole $7500 from his mother to go on a week-long bender.
He shared his incredible story with news.com.au last year, in which he spoke of being revived in an alleyway and not sleeping for days while he was in the grip of the evil drug.
He now runs a rehab clinic in Melbourne and told the Today Show this morning he could understand how desperate the mother was.
But he doubted it would have worked on him.
Former ice addict Jack Nagle is now working at DayHab Addiction Rehabilitation Centre after kicking the habit.
“For me in the long term, I don’t think it would have helped. It may have helped me initially to just break the physical addiction,’ Mr Nagle said.
“But the thing I found out about my addiction … it’s really about the underlying psychological and emotional issues that build up over the course of someone’s addiction.
“I’ve never heard of anything like (the cage) before but I can understand the desperation and the only thing that worked for me was when my family put strict boundaries in place.”
He told the Today show anyone suffering fro ice addiction, or their families, needed to get urgent help — and to trust their instincts.
‘If you think there may be a problem, there probably is. Addicts are masters of manipulation. Seek professional help.”