Jarrod Smith knows that there’s always a second chance.
Jarrod Smith started smoking pot when he was 15. He is not sure how much of his addiction grew from the wrong decisions he made, or how much resulted from an accident at age 12 that caused bleeding on his brain, put him an induced coma and made him feel ‘not all there’ at school and with peers from then on.
As an ice addict, Jarrod at times was extremely violent—at one stage it took eight police officers to subdue him during an incident when he was ice-affected and smashing his face with glass and bashing his head into a wall.
It took being completely cut off from his caring family and a failed suicide attempt to finally bring Jarrod undone.
‘I was living on the streets, eating out of a bin and often sleeping in toilets. Living on the streets is miserable—it’s cold and dangerous. It’s what hell looks like,’ he recalls.
But he always went back to the endless search for ‘ice, ice and more ice’.
‘I felt broken and abandoned. I felt worthless—I’d lost everything,’ he says. ‘There was a lot of guilt and major shame. I’d destroyed my family and broken my mum’s heart. I wrecked everything physically, emotionally and spiritually.’
A family member, who was part of the Salvos at Blacktown, rang Dooralong Transformation Centre, NSW, who then contacted Jarrod. While he desperately wanted help, he also doubted he could be helped.
‘In my head, I was saying, “I‘m death, I‘m sick.” I’d previously been put into a mental institution and I thought that if a mental institution couldn’t help me, rehab wasn’t going to,’ Jarrod says.
‘But I soon found out that it’s not a rehab—it’s a “transformation centre”. It’s the most stunning beautiful place. They make you face your inner child, family issues and self-worth. They don’t judge you, they just love you back to life. It is amazing!’
Despite having once been seriously anti-Christian, Jarrod has also embraced the Christian faith that Dooralong is built upon.
‘I was heaps against it,’ he says. ‘But it [my recovery] obviously wasn’t working with my will, so I needed God’s will. I have taken to the whole Christian thing and believing in God. I go to church and church is fun. God’s good. He’s got open arms and an open heart and loves me even though I’ve done bad things.’
Now slowly building bridges to his family ‘means more than life itself’, Jarrod says. He is also keen to study and work with animals in the future. He is working and learning how to live a normal life in the real world. He knows that his ongoing recovery will be a lifelong battle, but his desire is to help others. After experiencing the horror of homelessness he says, ‘I hate walking past people living on the streets now. I got help. I want to give someone else the help to get up onto their two feet and stand tall again.’
Jarrod has a message for anyone who is struggling with addiction and homelessness and feels there is no way out: ‘You’re not alone. The hardest part is to ring up and say I need help. The easy part is actually getting the help.
‘I thought the next place I was going was into a box,’ he says. ‘Now I have a life, a home, a job. I talk to people about the struggle, because you can have peace, contentment. It’s pretty cool. There’s always that second chance.’
Portions of this story are based on an interview with Rhema FM radio.