Bayside Transformations graduate Demmi Cannon.
Bayside Transformations graduate Demmi Cannon. Alistair Brightman

WARRIOR WOMEN: Back from the brink

THE scene is playing out like something out of a movie.

Demmi Cannon is comatose, unaware of her family's screams as they desperately try to wake her.

Too disorientated to hide her bruised face, her facade finally comes crumbling down.

She hasn't even reached her 25th birthday and already, unbeknown to her family, Demmi has been a drug addict for nearly a decade.

That was until one and half years ago when she entered the Bayside Transformations rehabilitation program - an 18-month gruelling overhaul of every aspect of her life which ended in a victorious graduation last week.

Speaking from the Transformations women's home where she has been offered a supervisor position, the inspiring resident turned mentor told the Chronicle she was once "incredibly selfish, a liar, a stealer and a cheater".

Her journey to misery began when her father left her mother and family when she was 14 - a feeling of abandonment Demmi attempted to conquer by acting out in an effort to coax her father back home.

It was her boyfriend who introduced Demmi to drugs, a lifestyle which led her from one bad relationship to another and a two-year domestic violence cycle that almost claimed her life.

"I didn't want to feel the pain so I used drugs to escape," Demmi said.

"I listened to all the horrible things drugs could do when I was younger, but I tried weed and I thought this isn't all that bad and I just ignored all the warnings. Weed really is the gateway drug," she said.

From there it escalated to experimenting with ecstasy pills, ice and then GHB.

Deceptively, throughout most of her addiction, Demmi could hold down a job and support her habit.

Eventually though, she began dealing.


Bayside Transformations graduate Demmi Cannon.
NEW LIFE: Bayside Transformations graduate Demmi Cannon. Alistair Brightman

She knows how lucky she is not only to have escaped jail but also to simply be alive.

"If I wasn't here (at Transformations) I would be dead," she said

"The violence escalated at the end particularly that last time when my family found me - I thought he would kill me."

For Demmi, most of her personal growth was in a stage of rehab that required her to look out for other people.

"I think because I was so selfish, I just didn't care... being forced to be a leader and look out for other people was where I grew the most," she said.

A big believer in the Transformations methods as opposed to youth programs she had tried, she said the key was delving into why someone started using drugs.

Having managers who had completed the program was also a plus and while faith wasn't forced on her, she found it anyway.

"Here, we are a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre based around consequential thinking but also a Christian rehab so it is faith based as well... when I first got here and found out it was a Christian rehab I was a bit offside but God really helped me," Demmi said.

"It's about looking up to mentors and being like, 'they did it so I can too'. I hope now I am that person to someone else."

Demmi plans to study psychology in November to work with addicts for the rest of her life.

"I feel like my life has purpose now," she said.

"Even when I was using drugs I had this niggling voice in the back of my mind that this is not where I am meant to be. I am meant to be more than this. I am not meant to be doing this."