The Salvos showed Nick that change is possible, even when you’ve lost hope.
On 22 August 2014, on my way to my office, I was stopped by undercover detectives, arrested in front of my colleagues, and later charged with serious drug-supply offences. I was on the TV news for two nights in a row.
This is how my parents, family and friends discovered my best-kept secret:
I was an ice addict.
I grew up in a traditional Greek household. I did well in high school, I went to university, I have a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, and I practised as a solicitor for 10 years at the Australian Government Solicitor agency.
I represented the Commonwealth in the federal courts, including the High Court, in administrative and in constitutional law matters. And I was good at it.
But in the preceding five years, some significant matters went wrong in my life. I had been a regular user of cocaine and ecstasy, but in an effort to hide my inner turmoil I turned to even harder drugs.
Shortly after I tried ice, I reached the point where I had to use it every day to deal with life. The friends I was living with, whom I had known since high school, kicked me out of our share house because ice quickly turned me into an arrogant, dishonest and selfish person.
My family thought I was having some kind of breakdown. My work colleagues described me as being in a “death spiral”.
My use escalated to the point where, despite my income, I had to sell drugs to maintain my addiction. My life was so bad that, immediately after my arrest, I felt nothing but relief that it was over.
My lawyer told me I had to go to rehab. When I first walked through the doors at The Salvation Army’s William Booth House, my intention was to do what I had to do to get out of jail, then start using drugs again.
I wasn’t expecting change. I considered myself a strong atheist, but found I enjoyed the spiritual component of the recovery program. I became a believer.
When you see Christianity in practice, like The Salvation Army does it, where the mission is to help other people, you come to appreciate that’s what God wants and that’s what Christianity is all about.
If you had told me five years ago I’d be a drug and alcohol worker for The Salvation Army I would have laughed! But I feel I need to give back to this place that has saved my life.
I get to help people. I get to see people transform. I am an example to them that they can recover from addiction.
I thank God that I was arrested, because that saved my life. I’m sure I’d be dead otherwise.
As told to Lauren Martin—first appeared in Others magazine