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Whether you’ve struggled with problematic drug use yourself, or been forced to watch a loved one struggle, sharing your story can humanise the commentary around people who use drugs, give yourself a voice, educate and bring hope and encouragement to others that may be struggling with similar issues. 

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Robert

I started drinking and smoking at about 12 years of age on a regular basis - mostly weekends and mostly to the point of experiencing blackouts. Soon after I began smoking dope. By the age of 16 and leaving school I was drinking daily and taking whatever drugs I could whenever I could. At 15 I remember a kid giving us tablets his mother was taking - no idea what they were - but took 6 of them and spent 3 days vomiting bright green fluids which I kept secret from my parents on a 2 week holiday to the Gold Coast. In 1979 I Turned 17 and obtained a drivers license, and after 2 months lost it for drunk driving (.17). Couple weeks later , caught driving again (.21) and had drugs in my system too - lost the license for life absolutely. Few weeks later I stole a car, was caught - or rather found in the bush near the wrecked car and admitted to hospital - no blood tests taken , but charged with DUI / DWD and unlawful use and placed into a Salvation Army rehab in Brisbane for 2 months awaiting court . I was then sentenced to mandatory prison 2 months each charge. Left prison and with my new found circle of friends used narcotic for the first time on the day of my release. At this time I contracted HepC by sharing needles. A few months later I took my mothers company car during a blackout , crashed it severely and left it’s number plate at the scene. They traced the car to mums boss who then visited my mother in the early hours and on his way found the car near my mums home and soon after found me in a cemetery adjacent to the wrecked car. Within an hour I’d taken a large dose of serepax and rushed hospital. I was then admitted to hospital followed by psych centre. The police attended and said if I went to a rehab and completed the program they’d pretend they’d never found me, or if I preferred they will arrest me and I’d probably go to gaol again for up to 5 years. I went to the rehab . It was WHO’S based in Goulburn and they used sleep depravation and confrontation groups. I was 18. I completed that program and after leaving I went to AA meetings, obtained a job etc, but was faced with a lifetime of using public transport. I lived in Sydney at this time and at an AA meeting I bumped into a man I’d been in the who’s Program with. He had himself and 2 others thinking about starting NA. I was invited to come to the first NA meeting to be held at Waverly and I attended. I immediately became a member of the group and we met another fellow with a meeting at camperdown. So then we were 2. Once 6 meetings were set up we established a service structure and I took care of literature production amongst other things. I became secretary of the camperdiwn meeting and as we were getting 40 or more people attending we needed a bigger venue, so I found the Glebe town hall. Within a year we would have 120 people attending every Friday night. I ended up on the board of directors of who’s for 5 years after the administration and staff had changed ). I deterred businesses with $500 that ended up turning over multi millions and at 25 I married. Businesses failed and succeeded but Throughout my life attending NA was paramount and now 40 years later I still attend NA and do my best to carry the message of recovery whenever the chance is presented. I have two grown up children. I’m no longer a burden to our society, indeed I consider myself and others doing as I am to be assets to our community. A long way from where I came from. So many people, friends, have died as a result of their drug use and alcoholism. Lives are smashed and families torn apart. My close friends are x prostitutes, x drug dealers and people our society wouldn’t give the give the time of day to. Most all have a history of childhood abuse and neglect. In finding acceptance by others rather than being constantly ostracized and victimized by the inadequate systems we have in place to this day, thousands and thousands of wonderful people have found a life they never thought possible for themselves. Addressing the hurts of their past and resolving issues that made drug and alcohol use not only attractive but essential for them.

Kevin

I grew up in a very dis-functional family in the western suburbs of Sydney.There was a lot of drinking and I was exposed to alcohol at a very early age.You could say that this was my first exposure to drugs.Due to a drunken incident I was sent to a boys home for a number of years until I reached 17yrs old and legally allowed to be transferred to an adult prison.I will not go into the details of what it was like but I will say that I was abused and very frightened for most of the time.It was while inside prison that I first tried heroin.The effect that it had was one of being in a safe place and untouchable by the chaos that surrounded me.I liked it and I liked the feelings in gave me.Upon my release I drifted from one meaningless job to another and from one substandard place of residence to another.I could never shake the feelings I had for myself no matter where I was employed or lived.I found refuge in drugs, they took away these feelings of loneliness, despair and a general hatred of myself and the things that I had experienced in my life.I returned time and time to heroin and the way it made me feel.I continued to take drugs for the next 30 odd years on and off.On more than off. I could not stop no matter what good was in my life and those times were as rare as hens teeth.Addiction bought nothing but despair, destruction and desertion.Thinking back I think that all this came about because of the laws for drug use, the amount of money and time spent in my search.eg the shame of being a drug addicted what I had to do to obtain my daily drug supply. I now find myself in my 60s and on an OST programme.My drug days are finally behind me and I want to devote my life to treatment and the laws surrounding drugs and the people who use them.I am in 100% agreement with the aims and objectives of the Fairtreatment Campaign.

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