Sarah* conceived her first child on the night she first used ice – and the birth of her last child plunged her back into the grip of the habit.
"I tended to get more addicted after I had my last child, because I was feeling empty … not having [my daughter's] dad there was making me feel empty, and I needed something to fill that void," she said.
At the peak of her obsession, Sarah was spending $500 a week on ice supplied by her former partner.
After more than a year of using, it was the devastation of losing access to her children in 2013 which has spurred the young mother to break free of the illicit substance.
"I lost them – I lost them," she said.
"It was the kids and one child's father – he said if I didn't pull myself up I wouldn't have my kids, and I wouldn't have him."
Waiting lists meant she could not find a place in a residential treatment centre in Canberra, but Sarah said the ongoing community treatment through Directions – involving fortnightly meetings with her counsellor and case manager, as well as a weekly female-focused support group – was a major part of her success.
"When I first came to Directions I was still using and I was lying to them," she said.
"Workers here can see you're on it, and they can't help you until you want to be helped."
A range of programs, talking through her issues and a toolbox all played their part.
"Most people will come up with a toolbox – in this toolbox you could have puzzles, photos of your kids, anything – and when you have doubts you get out your toolbox, open it up and you can do something with it," she said.
The children are now back with their mother, her temporary highs from the illegal fix have been replaced with something more valuable.
"Days I've been on it I've had a good high, but I had huge outbursts, I punched walls, things like that – nothing good comes from it."
"It's unbelievable, having been on it for that long, and [now] having been off it for 24 weeks … I feel so strong, and every day I look at my babies and say yes, I've got you."
Most mothers would do anything to be with their children. For Chloe* – four years after she last had custody of hers – the motivation to stay off the crystal meth is clear.
"I'm in here to get them back," she said.
"I haven't used in 14 months."
Here is Arcadia House, quiet accommodation not far from the Calvary Hospital at Bruce, home of an eight-week transition program.
The signs for Chloe are positive, but the memory of a relapse in 2013 dims any overt optimism.
"I had weekly contact [with the children] before the relapse," she said.
"I haven't had contact with them for five months."
The mother, in her mid 20s, describes the separation as traumatic.
"I don't think my son will even like me, because I've hurt them so much, emotionally," she said.
"They feel like it's their fault."
It was smoking ice and pot which troubled her, in her own words ruining her mind, body and soul.
"I almost lost my mind, and if it wasn't for places like the Adult Mental Health Unit at Canberra Hospital, I'd be bat crazy," she said.
Ice users don't necessarily show signs to the outside world. Many, like Mark*, live functional lives.
"I never missed a day of work," he said.
The ones he was hurting were the ones at home – a place he was often away from, or out of it when he was there, coming off a binge of ice.
The crystal meth, which he moved to in order to get the high speed no longer gave him, also led to other vices.
"With my addiction I started gambling a lot and I didn't care, but afterwards I had guilt," he said.
"I could be up $20,000 on a night and it wasn't enough."
Mark, in his mid 40s, first used ice 15 years ago.
His stint in Arcadia House's residential program was not his first shot at rehab.
"I've mostly relapsed at the 30-day mark," he said.
This time – he's now into his seventh week, including some time out at Christmas – has been different.
"My wife didn't take me back for Christmas – but after a week she saw the change," he said.
Christmas 2014 became the long-time heavy drinker's first sober festive day in three decades.
"That natural high I felt that day was better than anything I put in my arm – I don't want that life no more," he said.