At the height of her drug addiction, Carissa Paglino was taking one gram of ice a day.
The woman, from Newcastle in New South Wales, shared harrowing details of how an introduction to crystal meth at the age of 29 started her downward spiral.
For the next five years, her world crumbled.
The now 34-year-old artist claimed her drug-fuelled lifestyle turned into a crippling addiction that led to a terrifying near-death ordeal.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, she revealed how she had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again after she was placed in an induced coma for 10 days.
At the height of her drug addiction, Carissa Paglino was taking one gram of ice a day (pictured left: when she was using ice and right: currently clean)
The woman said she was placed in a coma for 10 days following a binge on ice and cocaine
Before she swiftly descended into an ice addiction, Ms Paglino led an ordinary life.
She was born to a devoutly Christian family, sent to the best schools her parents could afford and she had a good upbringing – but then she turned to drugs.
She found herself on the drug scene from the tender age of 14.
‘I first tried drugs when I was at a very young age. I tried marijuana and cigarettes at age 14. I also tried amphetamines and LSD as a teenager,’ she said.
‘I started drinking heavily every weekend from age 15. I devoted my life to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.’
But her life quickly took a serious turn for the worst when she tried ice for the first time when she was 29 years old.
‘As I got older I was using drugs to cover up past hurt, guilt or anger, but I didn’t realise it at the time,’ she said.
‘I meandered through life taking different drugs including amphetamines, ecstasy, LSD as well as smoking a lot of marijuana and drinking heavily daily.
‘I slept with a lot of different men and went from one failed relationship to another… Until one day when I was 29, I was introduced to methamphetamine.
‘I used to buy a lot of amphetamines and at first I would say “make sure it’s NOT ice, I don’t want that c**p” then it became “MAKE SURE it’s ice”.
‘I loved the energy it gave me and the intense high. When I was high I didn’t have to think about reality or responsibilities… or my past.’
Her life quickly took a serious turn for the worse when she tried ice for the first time at age 29
Before she swiftly descended into an ice addiction, Ms Paglino had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol in her teenage years
When she woke from her coma 10 days later, she had to lean how to walk, talk and eat again
In 2015, she quit a job she held for 12 years because she was no longer happy working there.
‘Towards the end I was even using ice and smoking pot at work,’ she said.
The wrong crowd of people started supplying her with endless amounts of drugs, including ice, marijuana, ecstasy pills and seroquel – a drug that treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and depression.
‘It was here that I developed an ice habit of a gram a day,’ she recalled.
‘The last two years was when I really gave up on life. I didn’t want to die but I wasn’t keen on living either.’
She had no income for the next two years – and so she moved back in with her mother who helped her through the addiction.
‘I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics as the years of drug use had taken its toll,’ she said.
‘I have never been good at dealing with emotions and I was suffering from anxiety, depression, agoraphobia and OCD because of my lack of ability to deal with life.
‘My problems just bottled up over the years until I couldn’t handle being straight. If I wasn’t high I would just sleep.’
Growing up, a young Carissa had a good upbringing after she was born to a Christian family
The wrong crowd of people started supplying her with endless amounts of drugs
After being on a week long ice smoking binge in December 2016, Ms Paglino said she started taking the psychedelic drug DMT
After being on a week long of ice-smoking binge in December 2016, Ms Paglino said she started taking the psychedelic drug DMT.
‘I hadn’t eaten and I drank hardly any water in four days when I had a very strange body hallucinogenic experience on DMT,’ she said.
‘A couple of days later, I became very ill. I was vomiting, experiencing excruciating pain in my kidneys and involuntary movements and drug psychosis.
‘I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and it turned out I was having a kidney failure and was on the brink of having a brain damage.
‘I was admitted to hospital where I stayed for detox for almost three weeks. This was my first wake up call that I had to change my lifestyle.
‘For the first few days I was like a zombie.’
Before her addiction: Ms Paglino was born in a devoutly Christian family – who eventually helped her through her drug-fuelled battle
After she was discharged from hospital, Ms Paglino said she was doing well for about five weeks before she relapsed.
‘I went really well for about five weeks but then I started hanging with the wrong crowd and using ice again,’ she said.
‘Eventually, I began shooting up ice any chance I could and I was also abusing codeine and my prescribed anti-psychotics.
‘Then one day after a binge on the ice and snorting cocaine and taking many pills I had a major asthma attack.
‘The last thing I remember was the ambulance arriving. Then next thing I know I wake up in hospital with tubes coming out of everywhere.’
After she was discharged from hospital, Ms Paglino said she was doing well for about five weeks before she relapsed
Ms Paglino said she was unable to move – and could only use her head to communicate.
‘My mum was there and she asked me if I remembered what happened. I shook my head for no,’ she recalled.
‘She asked me if I wanted to know how long I had been in hospital. I nodded yes. She told me I had been there for 10 days. I began to cry then drifted out of consciousness.
‘It turned out I had a very bad asthma attack. I had stopped breathing so I was put on life support in the Intensive Care Unit. I was breathing through a tube and had drips coming out of both arms and both feet.’
Ms Paglino said her family were told to prepare for the worst after she was given just a 45 per cent chance of surviving.
‘My carbon dioxide levels were so toxic from my terrible lifestyle that my blood toxin levels were five times what usually kills people,’ she said.
‘I was administered three shots of adrenaline in the ambulance with no effect so I was put into an induced coma for 10 days,’ she said.
‘I had been on the life support for six days when my body started to shut down and I was deteriorating rapidly.
‘My whole family were asked to come and say goodbye as the doctors were sure I was going to die.’
The now 34-year-old artist claimed her drug-fuelled lifestyle turned into a crippling addiction that led to a terrifying near-death ordeal
When she was in a coma for 10 days, Ms Paglino said her family were told to prepare for the worst after she was given just a 45 per cent chance of surviving
Born to a devoutly Christian family, Ms Paglino said her loved ones all ‘prayed for my recovery’
But against all odds, she survived.
‘Because of my own faith, the faith of my family and the faith of the church and everyone who was praying, I survived this ordeal,’ she said.
‘I had no damage whatsoever to my lungs, brain or heart. The doctors were so amazed by my fast and full recovery they were calling me “the miracle child”.’
When she woke from her coma, she had to lean how to walk, talk and eat again.
‘The doctors were expecting months of physio and speech therapy for my recovery but by the grace of God I was up and out of that hospital,’ she said.
‘I was walking, talking, feeding and doing everything for myself. My strong faith in God and determination saved me.
‘This was the start of my healing journey and my road to sobriety.’
Reflecting back on her turbulent life, Ms Paglino – who found solace in her religion, art and her pet dog and cat – said she now feels happier and healthier.
‘They say you never know how sick you were until you start to get better,’ she said.
‘Looking back I now realise how terrible I was living. I can say now that I’m so happy and healthy compared to the last five years, and well ever.’
Ms Paglino found comfort after she started pursuing her passion in painting and art
By telling her story, Ms Paglino wanted young people to draw hope from her experiences
Speaking about her battle, the former ice addict said she doesn’t have any regrets.
‘I say no regrets only life lessons. My past made me the strong person I am today and it helps me not to judge others because I have been there,’ she said.
‘No one wants to be a drug addict and there is usually some sort of pain, guilt or anger that people are trying to self medicate.
‘You just want to be numb and not have to think about reality.’
By telling her story, Ms Paglino wanted young people to draw hope from her experiences.
‘I hope to encourage others and give them hope that it is possible to recover and live a happy life without drugs,’ she said.
‘I came very close to death but I believe I have been given a second chance to help others. I have been clean from ice for going on 10 months now.
‘My life has changed dramatically and I’m happier and healthier than ever before.’
For confidential support 24/7, please call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.