When a family member told her party pills would help to get more gardening done, Ketrina never expected the horrific addiction
that would result.
Ketrina, who did not want her surname published, slept just two nights per week. She would take a spotlight outside and garden for two or three days and nights without a break. Chemicals sweating from her body caused bubbling sores on her arms and legs, which she said felt like insects crawling on her skin.
During her year-long addiction Ketrina took up to six 300mg pills per day to keep going. She said they often had varying degrees of BZP because her reaction was always different.
"Sometimes I could sleep on it; it was different every time. Sometimes I'd have really bad hallucinations."
The itchiness and rashes started soon after she took the first pills, she said.
Now in her last few weeks of a three-month battle to fight her addiction at St Marks Alcohol
clinic in Blenheim, Ketrina scoffs at the notion that party pills are not addictive. She had been involved with drugs from a young age and used the pills as a "safe" alternative to an ongoing alcohol problem, she said.
"First of all I was staying up all night and then two nights on 600mg. Over the year I had to take at least six (pills) to get to the next day."
She said the planned ban of party pills was "fantastic".
"It's all chemicals. You might as well get some plant fertiliser and drink that. I'm glad they're going to be banned because they're toxic. Young people getting their hands on them is so dangerous."
The family member who introduced her to party pills had also been at St Marks to recover from a party pills addiction, she said.
Centre manager Lois Millar said Ketrina was the third party pill addict
to be treated at the centre. With the pills being relatively new on the market, she said addiction cases were only just starting to come through.
But Social Tonics Assoc-iation of New Zealand (Stanz) chairman Matt Bowden said party pills did not contain the chemicals which caused addiction and out of the 400,000 users in New Zealand only a tiny number of people became addicted to them. He said this was caused by an already addictive personality rather than the chemicals in the pills themselves.
Ketrina has a history of substance addiction, depression and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but said the side effects
of her party pill addiction were not caused by her alcohol addiction
"I took three months off alcohol and just did party pills and still had the same reactions," she said.
Surviving off just one small meal a day, Ketrina felt nauseous every time she took a pill but could not miss a dose for fear of slipping into depression.
"My body did not know if it was coming or going. If I did not take them every day I would be so depressed. I'd be in bed all day feeling sorry for myself. I had to have them to stay awake. I had to take them to feel normal."
When she did sleep, Ketrina would be out for up to 20 hours and during this time her body would sweat out foul-smelling chemicals which she said resulted in the sores.
"I would get a scalpel and try to dig them out; some went as deep as the muscle," she said of the wounds, which have caused scars she will carry for life.
"I was just in my own fan-tasy world all the time."
Ketrina said she constantly "sweated like a fountain" and she felt as if there were insects crawling on her skin and she would scratch at the itch until she bled.
She was described by others as "manic" when she went into rehab. Ketrina still suffers daily headaches, muscle spasms and anxiety problems.
Ketrina's pill supplier, who no longer does business in Blenheim, sold her pills in bulk at half price, delivered them to her house and texted her constantly urging her to buy more.
"I love getting a bargain, so of course I'd buy more," she said.
"I'd spend $120 at a time and he'd give me $240 worth of pills. He was like a drug
pusher, I felt like I was breaking the law every time I left," she said.