Fourteen years ago when she was plunged into the ice addiction that nearly killed her, Tita-Ann Albertella was mainlined by her boyfriend against her will.

Aged just 18, but already the mother of two young children, she was living in the northern Queensland town of Ayr.

Better known in the early 2000s as the twin town of Home Hill in sugar cane country around the delta of the Burdekin River, Ayr and nearby Townsville have since become rural methamphetamine hubs.

And for a while Tita-Ann became one of Ayr's meth dealers, drawn into a violent world by a massive addiction.


Her weight dropped to a skeletal 42kg and she was so desperate that she tried to hang herself more than once.

"I'm afraid to go back there, the scene is so heavy," Ms Albertella told in an exclusive interview.

"I'm afraid some of the really bad people might kill me, or hurt people I love."

Back in 2003, Tita-Ann was struggling in a violent relationship with an amphetamine addict and trying to resist drugs.

It was a struggle that she would ultimately lose.

"He tried to inject in my arm and I always pulled away, but then one day he did it, held my arm down and injected me.

"I thought I was dead. My eyes went black and my heart was racing and everything spinning and I crawled into the shower.

"But after that I just had to keep on taking it, thought I could never inject myself.


"He always did it. He would stay awake for days.

"That was speed. Ice hit Ayr in about 2010 and it was a thousand times worse.

"I tried to get off it, but he was a big time drug dealer and I was scared."

Tita-Ann would eventually end that relationship and start another with a young man who hid his past from her.

What she didn't know was that the man had a history of violence, sexual assault and drugs.

The man, who cannot be identified, frequently assaulted her and, she says, his family would turn a blind eye to her obvious cuts and bruises.

But she was given an unlikely reprieve.

Her boyfriend was jailed for assault and given a significant sentence.

In the years he spent in prison, she managed to stop taking ice and find a new relationship with a man who she married.

But then her old boyfriend was released on parole, and in small-town Ayr he began taunting Tita-Ann's husband that she was cheating on him.

Her marriage ended and she went back to her old boyfriend and started taking ice again, with him injecting her.

Tita-Ann's renewed addiction spiralled out of control. Her weight plummeted, she sold ice to fund her habit and she associated with criminals.

She lost most of her possessions, including two cars to drug dealers and her boyfriend tried to make her stay awake for five day ice benders.

He became so paranoid he told others that Tita-Ann "had cameras in her eyes" and was recording his drug taking for the police.

She says that during her time on ice she has seen the result of drug-fuelled violence when addicts beat others in the pursuit of money for drugs and the "stealing, lying and threats" of life on the drug.

Eventually, Tita-Ann was saved by an aunt who came up to Ayr to drag her away from the drug culture and back to Brisbane to start rehabilitation.

That was eight months ago, and she has now been mostly free from drugs during that period and has started studying with the aim of becoming a youth worker.

And the 32-year-old has come forward to tell her story to help other victims of ice.

Now she has also given up alcohol and is training for a 1200km walk from Brisbane to Ayr to raise awareness about the methamphetamine problem in northern Queensland towns.

Tita-Ann has put on weight and is already walking 50km a day ahead of the fundraising event she plans for June.

Tita-Ann Albertella has ditched her drug addiction and is now planning a massive charity walk to raise awareness about ice addiction in rural northern Queensland. Photo / Facebook
Tita-Ann Albertella has ditched her drug addiction and is now planning a massive charity walk to raise awareness about ice addiction in rural northern Queensland. Photo / Facebook

She has launched a dedicated Facebook page to fund the walk and a special bus to accompany her on the two week campaign during which she plans to sleep in a tent and meet with people along the way.

The mayor of the Burdekin Shire Council has given Tita-Ann support in her ultimate aim - to have a rehabilitation facility open in Ayr for drug addicts.

She says former drug associates living in the town regard her as "a traitor".

"And I am but it's to the drug. People need help to get off ice and help get their lives together".

Even so, returning to Ayr where she was once both an ice user and ice dealer is a daunting prospect.

She is frightened of former drug associates and is not confident that police in Ayr have sufficient officers to keep the drug trade at bay.

Tita-Ann said her former drug "friends" are saying it's not true that she has kicked her habit, but that the proof was in her healthy appearance compared with her former gaunt "junkie" look.

Queensland Police have launched a number of ant-drug operations in Ayr and Townsville over the last few years.

Anyone wishing to sponsor or support Tita-Ann's walk against drugs can contact her via her Facebook page.

Diary of an 'ice' town

June 2015

After six weeks of continual drug raids, Ayr detectives shut down a methamphetamine lab and charged 25 people with drug offences.

Eighteen males and seven females between the ages of 15 and 47 were charged with 157 offences as part of Operation North Opulence.

Police executed 11 search warrants in Ayr, Home Hill and Townsville, and discovered what was described as a meth lab in Canberra St, Ayr.

Ayr detectives seized over 200 grams of cannabis, 14 cannabis plants, amphetamine oil and ice as well as $2000 in cash, a flick knife and a homemade knuckle duster.

November 2015

A haul of firearms, narcotics and cash seized during a three-day operation in north Queensland was revealed by Townsville police.

Operation Thaddaeus, which resulted in 12 people being charged with 26 drug-related offences, was run by the Queensland Police Service and Australian Border Force (ABF).

As part of the operation, police and sniffer dogs discovered 72 ecstasy tablets at the Townsville ferry terminal ahead of a Full Moon Halloween party.

May 2016

Detectives from the Ayr Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) charged 11 people with drug and weapons offences under Operation North Impasse.

Police officers executed nine search warrants in Ayr and Home Hill and charged the eleven with 43 offences.

the charges included possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a utensil and possession of property suspected of being used in connection with a drug.

Police said a variety of drugs located during the searches included cannabis, methylamphetamine, ice and Viagra.

Where to get help:
If it is an emergency and you or someone you know is at risk, call 111.
Women's Refuge: 0800 733 843
Victim Support: 0800 842 846
Lifeline: (09) 522 2999
Family Violence Info Line: 0800 456 450