Mary was so desperate to get help for her drug-addicted son she went to a tribunal to ask for guardianship so she could force him into rehabilitation.
But as with the other avenues she's tried, there was nothing they could do.
"How do you get help for someone with an addiction fuelled by mental health issues when they won't help themselves?"
It's a question that has plagued Mary since her 26-year-old son became addicted to pot at 17, and then moved on to ice and a cocktail of other drugs.
Mary, who requested her surname be withheld, is not the stereotypical drug addict's mother. She has two other sons, one older and one younger than the 26-year-old, who are living happy and productive lives.
Stereotypes and stigma are parts of the problem in seeking help for addicts and their families.
Mary's been in this situation for nine years now, and there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel.
She's been told the average time for people to recover from drug addiction is 20 years, but she's not willing to wait it out.
"We don't believe our son has the luxury of time. At this rate, he'll be lucky to reach 40," she said.
"If there's nothing that can be done, clearly the system doesn't work."
She said the main problem is fear. Her son wants to get help, but he's scared.
The handful of times he's started on the path to getting help, there have been hurdles he's been unable to overcome - the wait times are too long, there are no appointments on the day, he needs a GP's referral to access services, there's no beds available in the mental health unit at the hospital.
Three times he's been able to discharge himself from hospital after mental health episodes, only to turn up angry at the family home or at Mary's work without any warning.
"He goes so far but he doesn't take that last step. That's where we said we'd walk it with him, we'd go with him."
Mary believes her son is self-medicating to escape from his mental health problems.
At one stage, he went to stay in Wagga with his cousin. It was his decision, and it came after a particularly violent episode in the family home.
"I said to him, 'I've had enough. You're going to be the one dead or I'll be the one dead, or [step-dad] Ross. We can't do this anymore'."
In Wagga, after a few false starts, he cleaned himself up. He took the time to get his licence, signed up for a gym membership and was completing a community service course online.
"He got a certificate, took a snapshot and showed me," Mary said.
"He was as clean as a whistle. I talked to him on the phone. I was so happy."
But then he wanted to come back to Canberra. Mary and Ross urged him to stay in Wagga, they told him it was too soon and he should take more time to recover.
But he came home, and Mary said that was a big mistake. She found him shooting up ice at a drug dealer's house after his friends tipped her off.
It was then that they decided to go to the tribunal to seek guardianship, so they could make decisions for him about rehabilitation, and about what he did with his Centrelink money.
The case was not successful for Mary and Ross. Mary said it seemed like the panel couldn't fathom her son having both mental health issues and a drug addiction. They were told they were the only avenue to getting help. In a letter of feedback, Mary wrote: "We are not mental health professionals... we need the system to help us".
Mary said in recent weeks, her son has been seeing a doctor who she hopes has got through to him. She said she's relieved to have some support from the ACT mental health crisis team, but it had taken too long to get to this point.
"Years ago we needed that help. He's gotten so bad, he could be significantly brain damaged, I'm glad he's not that impaired, but it can ruin somebody to wait this long and wait for them to hit rock bottom but rock bottom may be too late.
"I think he's got a bit of a chance now," she said.
- This is part of a series by the Sunday Canberra Times exploring illicit drug addiction, the impact it has on families and the community, and what's being done to help.