- She led the ultimate party lifestyle – alcohol, drugs and a wealthy boyfriend
- But her world came crashing down when she tried ice for the first time
- Emily Duncan almost died twice when she used ice for a decade
- She was 14 when she started smoking cannabis and moved out of home
- When she turned 17, she was charged with DUI and started smoking ice
- She fell in love at the age of 21, moved in with her DJ boyfriend
- Her wealthy long-term boyfriend lived to party and funded her drug habit
- Ms Duncan checked into rehab at 27 and spent the next 18 months there
- Now, the reformed ice addict works at the same rehab centre
- She mentors other women who are going through what she had endured
She was leading the ultimate party girl lifestyle – alcohol, drugs, nightclubs, a penthouse apartment and a wealthy boyfriend who funded it all.
But Emily Duncan’s world came crashing down when she tried ice for the first time and immediately became addicted to the deadly drug, also known as methamphetamine or crystal meth.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, the 32-year-old, who now lives on the Gold Coast, revealed her terrifying near-death ordeal with ice and how she turned her life around after a drug-fuelled decade.
It all began at the age of 14, when her family decided to move from Melbourne to Auckland after her father, who is a church pastor, accepted a new job in New Zealand.
Up until that point, she had travelled and lived in four different countries and attended 17 schools.
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Reformed ice addict Emily Duncan turned her life around after using methamphetamine for a decade
Ms Duncan (right) smoking cannabis at the age of 15 – just one year after she tried pot for the first time
‘I had a lot of confusion and no longer had a sense of identity,’ Ms Duncan told Daily Mail Australia.
‘When we moved to Auckland, I was 14 and in a territory of pain and anger. It was the first time I started cutting myself and it almost felt like I wanted to die.
‘I blamed it on my parents and God. At the time, I wanted to concentrate on my friends and being cool. I just wanted to block everything out and then one thing led to another.’
She was born into a devoutly Christian family, sent to the best schools her parents could afford and had a good upbringing but then she turned to drugs.
‘I was on the hunt for escapism,’ she said.
‘I tried pot [cannabis] for the first time when I was in year nine and started drinking excessively.
‘I stopped talking to my parents by that stage as well. I was running away from home and doing my own thing.’
At the age of 16, Ms Duncan moved out of her family home, dropped out of school shortly after and started working at a café.
‘My parents were trying to do the right thing but I was a rebellious child at that stage,’ she said.
‘They were quite strict. I wasn’t allowed to swear, couldn’t smoke at home and would always get myself grounded. If I didn’t have enough homework, they would give me more homework.’
With her family when they celebrated her sister’s 21st (from left: dad Michael, mum Ruby, sister Joanna, Emily and her brother Thomas)
By the time she was 27, her six-year relationship ended after falling pregnant twice to her long term boyfriend
Ms Duncan was working at a hospitality trade when she tried ice for the first time at 17 (pictured)
When she was 17, Ms Duncan was working full-time at a hospitality trade when she tried ice for the first time.
‘I was charged with my first DUI [driving under the influence] and felt really upset at work,’ she said.
‘My colleagues were offering me a pipe to make me feel better. It was the first taste that instantly made me feel like everything was going to be OK.
‘I felt invincible, strong and accepted. Ice made me feel confident, loved and extremely intelligent. I felt like I was on top of the world.
‘But the drug chemical in your brain only triggers for the first couple of years and after that – the chemical is gone and your life goes a bit reversed.’
What had begun as a means of escapism swiftly became an addiction, and before long, she was smoking ice ‘all day everyday’.
She fell in love at the age of 21 and moved into her boyfriend’s stunning apartment on the North Shore in Auckland.
‘He was a DJ so the party lifestyle came with it,’ she said.
‘He was very wealthy so he funded my drug habit. He lived to party and funded all our partying for several years. I felt like I was living the playboy mansion lifestyle. Drugs were always around.
‘We would have ice all day, everyday along with several other drugs.’
When she returned home for her sister’s wedding (pictured), it was enough to persuade her to kick the habit
Ms Duncan with her family (from left: dad Michael, Emily, brother Thomas, sister Joanna and mum Ruby)
Ms Duncan pictured with her sister Joanna in Asia – where they spent 10 years living in Manila, Philippines
But her harrowing ordeal with the illicit drug kicked in at the age of 25.
‘I started to get anxiety attacks,’ she said.
‘I would get pins and needles in my hands and feet. My hands would curl up and I wouldn’t be able to function them until I run it under hot water.
Ms Duncan pictured at the age of five – she spent most of her childhood travelling and living in four different countries and attended 17 schools
‘I was bleeding everywhere through my mouth and gums. It got to the stage where even the smell of ice made me vomit. I had infections in all my nail beds.
‘I couldn’t smoke ice by the time I was 26 because I was vomiting after every hit. So I started snorting it and my nose would constantly bleed – it was bleeding every day for nine months so I started drinking it.
‘I would constantly smoke pot to keep my nausea at bay and then I was trying to set the mood I was in by taking ice. It was like I was chasing the tail.’
By the time she was 27, her six year relationship came to an end after falling pregnant twice.
‘My boyfriend was not happy when he found out,’ she said.
‘He wasn’t prepared to have children with me so he insisted I have the abortions. I never desired to get the abortions. I felt such extreme guilt that I started having suicidal thoughts.
‘He treated me well during our time together and we loved each other very much but it was a dysfunctional relationship.
‘After the second abortion, I continued taking drugs and alcohol to a point where I didn’t care if I lived or died. I overdosed twice and was taking so many different sleeping pills.
‘No one persuaded me to use drugs – I wasn’t influenced by anyone but myself. I was slowly dying by this stage and I even felt ashamed of myself.
After getting her life back on track, she reconnected with her family again (from left: mum, Emily and dad)
When she started taking ice, Ms Duncan said she felt ‘confident, loved, invincible and on top of the world’
Ms Duncan pictured with her brother Thomas – she said her family has been the biggest support in her life
By this point, her life had spiralled out of control. Ms Duncan tipped the scales at just 40 kilograms when she moved to Sydney shortly after the breakup and had lost the ability to communicate.
‘I couldn’t handle the social situations. I was mumbling and had to read a chapter of a book every night to get my speech back,’ she said.
‘I knew I had to get off the hard drugs and I knew it was crucial to me.’
When she returned home to New Zealand to celebrate her sister Joanna’s wedding in 2010, it was enough to persuade her to kick the habit for good.
‘I went home for my sister’s wedding and realised everyone was happy,’ she said.
‘They all had careers, started a new family and had children. I am the oldest of three and I actually felt like I was the youngest. Everyone was growing up and feeling happy. I was just a mess.
‘I realised I had to do something different. My life had become unmanageable so I had to make a big decision if I wanted to have some sort of successful life.’
Eventually, Ms Duncan moved to the Gold Coast at the age of 28 and spent the next 18 months at the Christian rehabilitation facility Transformations Ministries International.
Ms Duncan aged 14 (pictured left) when she was full of hate and started smoking pot for the first time
She was born into a devoutly Christian family and sent to the best schools her parents could afford
Ms Duncan (left) now works at the rehab centre where she mentors women who are suffering from drugs
She checked herself into the Christian rehabilitation facility Transformations Ministries International on the Gold Coast and spent the next 18 months there
Now, the reformed ice addict is working as an administrator, company secretary and beauty therapist at the rehab centre where she mentors other women going through what she had endured.
‘I absolutely love my job,’ she said.
‘The experience I suffered is invaluable and I managed to turned something painful into something good to help other women.’
Despite the harrowing impact on her life, Ms Duncan said she wouldn’t change anything in her past.
‘I wouldn’t be the person I am today given what I’ve gone through,’ she said.
‘I do have regrets about the abortions. I wish I was strong enough at the time to pick my babies’ life over my ex-boyfriend but I was so codependent on him and that led to self-hatred.
‘My family have been my biggest support. I’m fortunate for the discipline and morals instilled in me by my parents when I was younger because it has made our relationship better today.
‘My advice to other women is don’t give up on yourself. A lot of women feel unworthy and pressured to have a successful life so they turn to drugs but if you stay strong and don’t give up – you can’t fail.
‘I still feel temptations these days but each year, I’ve gotten stronger. It’s a strong thing to ask for help and when you’re ready to surrender yourself – help will always be available.
‘People blame God for the pain that’s happening in their life. But we live in a broken world where pain is inevitable. With God by your side, you won’t fight through this alone.’