Across Australia, desperate parents are re-mortgaging homes, taking out loans, or pulling out their superannuation to rescue their children from ice addiction.
- Shortage of public rehab centres mean families are driven to private centres
- Private clinics often charge tens of thousands of dollars
- Experts fear private clinics have ‘no minimum standards’
For the Butters family of Bacchus Marsh, the choice was stark: come up with thousands of dollars to book their daughter into private rehab, or see her slide back into a cycle of addiction, which had seen her drifting from one dealer’s house to another.
Tiarni Butters, 19, told Four Corners that it was a drive-by shooting that made her decide it was time to go back home to her parents and get off ice.
“There was five bullets through the front window. That’s what made me switch on straight away that this is enough — like, I could have got shot right there and then. It’s ridiculous,” she said.
Four Corners spent the day with the Butters, filming as the biggest crisis of their lives came to a head.
For eight months, Tiarni had been moving between ice dealers’ houses in Melbourne, having left her first full-time job as a dental nurse.
“Every day it was like a party … drugs were always there. There was always someone there, up to like 10 people at the one house,” she said.
It was a total shock to her family. Her father Wayne stopped work to search for her; chasing leads gleaned from Facebook to the doors of drug houses across Melbourne.
“They have got steel doors. They don’t have to answer them if they don’t want to. I just put my hoodie over my head, knocked on the door … they must have thought it was just a drug deal, so the door opened,” he said.
But Tiarni did not want to go with him.
“I would hide under a bed in case he came in and tried to find me. I didn’t want him to see me like that,” she said.
Wayne was horrified by what he saw in those houses.
“I have been in houses where there’s been 14-year-old kids there. The house stinks. These kids stay in there for days and weeks, mate. You can’t stand the smell,” he said.
Soon, the dealers got to recognise Wayne’s burly frame through the peephole and would not open the door.
“So I went back downstairs in a fit of rage and grabbed an axe from the car, and I axed the door down,” he said.
“I did some horrible things to get my daughter out. They worked, but it exhausted me.”
What would you pay to get your child into rehab?
Now the Butters have hit a brick wall. There are simply no places at public rehab clinics. The waiting lists at public rehab clinics are weeks, or months long.
Time is running out. Wayne has seen the pull ice has on users, and is worried Tiarni is about to disappear again.
“I can just see it, mate. She is itching to get out the door,” he said.