I was five years old when my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
It took his life within seven months. It was one of the hardest things watching my strong father lose the ability to walk and talk and being confined to bed or a wheelchair.
I was confused about the whole thing and being told that my father was not coming back. School was difficult.
I was not academic, always in trouble and got into fights. I was introverted and dealing with a great sadness that nobody could understand. I felt abandoned by God and believed he was the one who caused this.
At high school I felt different from my friends who hadn’t experienced the same pain I had. I found my outlet in sports and recreational activities and completely closed off from the Church and the spiritual side of who I was.
One Friday night I smoked some cannabis with my friends and I remember feeling free, like somehow all my troubles had been taken from me. My drug and alcohol use continued throughout high school and affected my social life and schoolwork.
I dropped out of school in Year 11. I eventually got a job I enjoyed and worked my way up to being a team leader. I was managing my drug habit well enough and felt no one knew what I was doing in my downtime, including before work.
I was also stealing from work to pay for my increasing drug use. Eventually I quit my job and started running large amounts of drugs from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.
I was drug trafficking for five years before my first near miss with the law, which I saw as my get-out-of-jail-free card. But I continued to run drugs until a random police search during a night of partying landed me in the watch-house and I was charged with drug possession of meth and ecstasy.
I knew it was only a matter of time until they got me again. But even an overdose and ending up in hospital didn’t stop me using. I had a habit that exceeded $350 a day.
Spending a $50,000 inheritance from my grandmother within three months, and with nothing to show for it, was rock bottom for me.
I contemplated suicide but was scared that it would devastate my family. A friend suggested The Salvation Army Gold Coast Recovery Services, so I called them and got assessed.
Without hesitation I took the next available bed for the detox unit at Fairhaven. It was the best decision I have ever made.
During my first couple of days there I felt a willingness to open up to God and ask for his help and guidance. I felt a connection with the God who loves me unconditionally. The feeling of running on my own had brought me to my knees and left me emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. So I decided to let go and let God in, and he was there for me.
I was able to work on my self-esteem and deal with the grief from the loss of my father. I finished the Bridge Program (a residential alcohol and drug recovery course), graduated and went into the extended care program.
I started the graduate volunteer program and, in April 2017, started a new job at Fairhaven as a support worker, completing a Certificate III in community services.
My life is amazing right now. I have friends who respect me for the work I’ve done but, most importantly, my family has their son, brother and uncle back in their lives.