News & Events
John & Sharni’s Story
I was the youngest of five children living in a small town in Tasmania. I was a lot younger than my siblings, so most of them had already left home when I was growing up. There was a lot of pressure on me and I felt that what mum and dad thought they had done wrong with my other siblings, they would fix with me.
At school I was a pretty average student; I enjoyed socialising with my friends but was never academic. My teachers always said I had so much potential, but didn’t use it.
My father was the sole policeman in our little town. I looked up to him and knew I wanted to
become a policeman just like him.
After school I tried but was unsuccessful twice in applying for the policeforce, so eventually I started working at the mines, which is what I did for the next 15 years.
I started smoking pot when I was about 14.
Then, at 19, after my mum passed away from cancer, I started taking morphine, which I had first stolen from my mum and later got from my sister. She thought if she got this for me it would make me happy. My father was an alcoholic and died about eight years later, and I found it hard to cope with the further round of grief and loss.
After 15 years of addiction to morphine, which I was injecting daily, I eventually ended up in a rehab facility in Tasmania. This is where I met Sharni.
My parents were very young when they had me and eventually broke up, so as a child I lived with my dad and my grandparents. I was very close to my grandmother as she was my mother figure. She passed away when I was 10 years old; I was devastated and so was my dad. I now know he was smoking pot and taking morphine to deal with this. I felt like I never actually got to speak about my grandmother passing and my dad never wanted to open up about it.
I was a distracted kid at school. I didn’t really like being there, but I loved music. I left school when I was in year 10 and went on to get odd jobs. My dad had just gone to rehab and I felt as if I had no guidance or role models. I started drinking heavily – I would scull a whole bottle of alcohol just before I started work. At 22 I realised I needed help; I was so unhappy and didn’t want to continue like this.
We both met in rehab and were unfortunately kicked out as we became a couple [most facilities discourage intimate relationships between clients]. Over the next year we were travelling around camping and unfortunately both using drugs. We had now actually combined our addictions: Sharni was now using morphine and alcohol and I was still using morphine and started drinking heavily.
During one of the times we got clean, Sharni fell pregnant with our little girl Savannah. We were so excited and felt this was a fresh start.
This lasted about eight months until we were both using again.
It all came to a point when Sharni’s family took away Savannah from us and said that we wouldn’t get her back until we got clean. We wanted to go somewhere as a family, so we left Tasmania and came to the Odyssey House Parents’ & Children’s Program.
We are now coming to an end in our rehabilitation. We’ve been dealing with our personal issues and putting things behind us, and we’ve also been learning how to be better parents through the parenting education component of the program. We hope in the future to explore our passions in life and eventually go back to Tasmania.