Most people probably think they have some sort of handle on the methamphetamine problem.

They will know about the record quantity seized in the Far North last year, and will be aware that Customs is kept busy intercepting the drug and its ingredients at the country's borders.

They will have heard that it is highly addictive, and that it is increasingly linked with crime and violence.

What they won't know is what life is like for an addict. Ruawai woman Janet Balcombe can change that on Monday evening.


Ms Balcombe will be at Te Ahu for the local launch of her extraordinarily candid book The Wild Side, the story of her train wreck of a life, the damage methamphetamine and other self-destructive behaviour did to her and her family, and how she came out the other side.

She says that, long before she managed to escape, she was incarcerated in a prison of her own making.

She also experienced the man-made version, on charges including kidnapping and counterfeiting, with drugs and guns thrown in for good measure.

She knew what she was doing, she knew the harm she was inflicting on herself and others, but for a long time she was powerless to do anything about it.

Monday's function will begin in the Banquet Room at Te Ahu at 5.30pm, followed by karakia at 6pm, an introduction by Mayor John Carter and a guest speaker.

Ms Balcombe will speak at 6.25pm, after which people can ask questions and buy her book.