It didn't take long - the first morning of the first day, in fact - for the shocking reality to hit home.
The three-day public hearing into the drug Ice at East Maitland was always going to be eye-opening, and sure enough, it delivered.
Within half an hour Sally Dowling SC revealed that the use of methamphetamine in Maitland and Cessnock was double the state average.
Inside an hour we learn that young children are being "desensitised" to methamphetamines by older family members. And we learn of a 14-year-old girl who was using date site Tinder to obtain drugs, paying for them with sex.
A witness reveals that children as young as 12 are using the drug, with some becoming "trapped" in predatory relationships with drug dealers and suppliers.
Think of it: the most addictive drug mankind has had to deal with in the hands of 12-year-olds.
The thought is heart-breaking. Yet we shouldn't be surprised. We were warned.
All the indications are that this hearing will be a lot like the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in the church - confronting, unpalatable ... and necessary.
Detective Superintendent Craig Jackson (pictured) described ice as the most damaging drug he has seen in his three decades of policing.
"I've been a cop for 31 years ... and for mine anyway ice is the worst drug we've seen, the worst drug we've encountered," the Port Stephens-Hunter Police District Commander said. "It seems to be more potent. The addictive qualities appear to be more extreme."
Anne-Marie Connelly, of Family and Community Services, Cessnock, said the cost of ice had halved over five years, making it even more accessible.
"It appears to have increased appearance in schools in the area. It's just a more cost-effective drug than other substances," she said.
Earlier this week our sister paper the Newcastle Herald told the story of Cardiff woman Robyn Lewis. A long time ice addict, she described the drug like this: "With ice (the decline) is quite quick ... it just ravages people. It takes their minds, it's crazy. "
If we as a society are going to be able to combat this drug, to offer any sort of meaningful help for people caught in its grip, we need to hear these things.
As frightening as it sounds.