Andrea Simmons had the perfect life.

“I had the boat, the houses, the cars, the perfect kids and I always kept it together,” she says.

That was all before she became an ice addict.

Written by Annie Pullar

Five years clean, Andrea Simmons aim to raise awareness for ice addiction. Supplied: Andrea Simmons

Nobody thinks that it is going to happen to them, one hit, one short moment of weakness, surely it couldn’t ruin your life?

At 40, Ms Simmons was handed her first pipe. The newly divorced mum of two told herself, “I’m old enough and wise enough, it won’t become addictive.”

“It looked innocent, it looked like something that you just smoke,” she said.

“It’ll make you relax,” said her new boyfriend, “you trust me don’t you?”

In a cloud of romance and naïve to the disturbing plight of ice, Ms Simmons took her first hit of crystal meth.

“The whole world disappeared, the only thing that was present was the moment, you’ve got this crazy high and strength and energy in your body that makes you feel alive.”

Four days later, Ms Simmons couldn’t help but chase that same feeling. One week after that, she found herself in the grips of an uncontrollable drug-induced hell.

“Before I knew it, it had just taken it over,” says Ms Simmons.

Leaving her two daughters, aged 19 and 20, she fled the Gold Coast to Melbourne with her boyfriend.

After two years, she was $75,000 in debt and only had $76 for a plane ticket. No car, no house and not even enough money for toilet paper, Ms Simmons did whatever she could to feed her $500 a day addiction.

“I remember standing at the ATM till 12 o’clock turned over, because I knew I’d get my Centrelink and I was ready for my next hit, so that’s $500 and that would be gone within 24 hours,” she says.

Ms Simmons explains ice triggers the release of dopamine up to 1000 times above normal levels.

“It strips your dopamine supply, it strips your serotonin, it freezes the frontal lobe of the brain,” she says.

“I remember waking up and thinking I can’t even get my head out of the pillow, everything in my body hurt, my muscles were eating away and my body was just depleted.”

Ms Simmons gave up her two children, and sold everything to fund her destructive habit for two years. Supplied: Andrea Simmons

Deep in his psychosis, in and out of paranoia, and dealing with delusions, Ms Simmons couldn’t operate normally in society.

She didn’t eat, sleep, or drink for a week. At 41 kilograms, she stopped breathing.

“I had a near death experience,” she says.

“I had ice for seven days straight then I topped that up with some G, a horse tranquilizer, took too much and passed out.

“I remember after the third time of opening my eyes, thinking I can’t take a breath, I am dying and I said if there’s a god, take my soul.”

For Ms Simmons, this near death experience was a turn around point. But for many others, they are not given a final breath to realise the “high” isn’t worth it.

Her mum didn’t even recognise her when she returned. Her children resented her and all she was left with was the feeling that she wanted to top her-self.

“I did six sessions of clinical AOD counselling and I remember sitting there and asking the counsellor, have you ever been an addict? Have you ever been on this? And she said, ‘no but I have studied it intensely’,” says Ms Simmons.

“I said how can you tell me how I feel, or what I am suppose to do? You have no idea.”

Now, as the director of the Australian Anti Ice Campaign, she’s leading an assault on the drug that almost took her life.

Supplied: Annie Pullar

Now, as the director of the Australian Anti Ice Campaign, she’s leading an assault on the drug that almost took her life.

“Everybody needs to know what’s in ice, that’s why we are doing community forums, but our heart is to get into every high school from Year 7-12 and create a ripple effect,” says Ms Simmons.

“We have to un-sell this drug.”


National education programs, community forums, social media, and billboard advertisements are just a few initiatives the Australian Anti Ice Campaign will roll out to help communities “Put the Freeze on Ice.” 

Twenty-seven young Australians between the ages of 15-24 are becoming regular or dependent ice users everyday. This equates to more than 10,000 every year.

 Australian Anti Ice Campaign operations Manager Glen Ivers says many of these 10,000 Australians will become addicted to ice, and those that do escape will carry scars for the rest of their life.

 Five years clean, Ms Simmons is still paying for it.

“A couple of weeks ago I ended up in hospital again with a kidney bleeding,” she says.

“I have areas of my past and memory that I don’t hold anymore.”

In a desperate plea to raise awareness, the Australian Anti Ice Campaign is teaming with local service providers and community leaders to host public forums to teach communities about ice and what can be done to help those who are already addicted.

Australian Anti Drug Campaign workers meet to prepare for Logan City’s community forum. Supplied: Annie Pullar

According to Mr Ivers, it can take a minimum of three months just to get a person into rehab, not even to mention the $1000 fee they must pay to get admitted.

“Within that three months, they’re still in that environment, they’re still in prostitution or they’re still stealing,” he says.

Ms Simmons is concerned that the recent crackdown on welfare put in place by the Federal Government will have adverse affects on people suffering from extreme drug addiction.

“People in addiction are on Centrelink because they’ve burnt all their bridges, they’ve lost jobs and they’re relaying on that money,” she says.

“If they can’t get it, they’re going to be stealing it, they’re going to be doing other things to get the gear, and that scares me.”

Mr Iver says targeting communities, and being “proactive” where the problem is at its core is the best way forward.

“What we’re doing is putting in place a community rehab, a holding pattern to keep these people dealing with addiction, out of a negative cycle,” says Mr Ivers.

“It’s a tripod of support, they can get 12 or 13 free counselling sessions, we connect them to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Crystal Meth Anonymous, or sometimes a church group and put them with a buddy.

“It’s going to take a huge community effort to wipe this out, we need to unite in the fight against ice.” 


More than 500,000 Australians aged 14 years and over have used ice in some form over the past year, according to the Australian Drug Foundation.

“We have to tackle at the root and that means going into schools early enough, exposing it and getting kids to understand how serious it is and that they’re not immune from it,” says Ms Simmons.

“They don’t see what’s happening in the brain of the person, they don’t see that in two months time that person is going to be hanging off a rope.”

Young addicts who survived ice are giving talks in schools along with former top former NRL players like Kevin Campion who works with students to build up their self esteem and fight peer pressure to experiment with the killer drug.

It is all part of Ms Simmons program based on a US model called The Meth Project, in which ex-users describe what the drug that’s become the scourge of Australia can do.

“The reliability of our presenters in classrooms, and out there helping other addicts get clean is so critical,” says Ms Simmons

“They tell the kids I’m not a policeman, I’m not a school teacher, I’m not your mum and dad, and I’m not going to tell you what to do but I am going to tell you what happened to me and what will probably happen to you if you touch this drug.”

Australian Anti Ice Campaign slogan, “not even once.” Supplied: Andrea Simmons

Former NRL player and AAIC campaigner, Kevin Campion says “you can see it in the classroom.”

“You can see kids coming through the system these days, there is a lot of expectation on them, a lot of pressure from there families and there is a lot of money being thrown around to young kids,” says

“It’s a really bad mix, and with that money, they have easy access to drugs, one of them being ice.”

Mr Ivers says, “let’s not be naïve,” where there is other illicit drugs, there is ice.

“We know that ecstasy is being sold to kids as ice, we know that there’s dealers dipping their marijuana in ice, so they can trap kids in quicker,” he says.

“We know that young girls are being told over the weekend to have it and they’ll loose 4kg, it’s a whole façade of lies.”

AAIC is preparing to Tackle the ICE epidemic in the Logan-Beenleigh area kicking off the campaign with a Community Forum on Tuesday, May 30.

This free event will be held at the Logan Entertainment Centre.