Addiction and Drug Raids to Stability and Perseverance: How I was able to turn my life around– MR.MEN TALK #3
Posted on 06 November 2019
My name is Cody. I am 29 years old and a Melburnian, born and raised. I currently work in disability, as a support worker. As with most people my age, I’d say I’ve been through quite the journey. It has been a long road for me, getting to this point, but I can confidently say now that I am so happy with where I am in my life.
The aforementioned journey, as most stories, go, had a few bumpy roads. I spent a lot of my teenage years and early 20’s struggling with drug abuse and addiction. After meeting up with Mr Men’s Melbourne, I have agreed to write this piece to tell my story, in hopes that anybody in the same position that I was in will be able to realise that things can always get better. My experience isn’t necessarily the same that other people have had, but the point of the story is the same, that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.
Where it all started
When I was younger my family moved around a lot across Melbourne, I think my mum was looking for the right place to settle down that was comfortable and safe for us to grow up in. This meant that I ended up attending four different primary schools, three high schools, and one community college. Throughout my schooling, I encountered a fair bit of bullying, especially targeted at my sexuality, which I didn’t even really understand at that stage. In a way, this made it even harder to digest, because I was being abused over an element of my being that I wasn’t even really aware of at the time. Despite the abuse that I endured, I never felt any kind of ill will for the people who were doing the bullying. It is a source of pride for me that I can say that even through some of the darkest periods of my life I never stopped caring about the people surrounding me or acting with kindness towards the people who treated me poorly. I have always been a happy, bubbly and open-minded person, and I think that if I saw my bullies again tomorrow, I would hold no resentment towards them. It’s just not in my nature.
I did start to recognise that I had feelings for the same sex, and came out at the age of 11, which sounds early but definitely didn’t feel that way at the time. After years of being bullied and not enjoying school or studying, I decided to drop out when I was 16.
Around that same time, I met a guy named Kyle, who ended up becoming a very close friend, someone that I shared a lot of my experiences with, and who played a very significant role in my life over the course of several years. Kyle was also a proudly gay teenager, but nobody at his school bullied him, and he had the respect from a lot of his classmates, which was such a different experience to my schooling. With Kyle, we met and started hanging out with a group of people that, in retrospect, I would probably call ‘the wrong crowd’ – and so began my steady introduction to drug use.
Through this group, I met and befriended a man named Shaun. He was a dealer at the time, who mainly dealt ecstasy. Shaun never pushed any drugs on me, and right off the bat, I will admit that my addiction never stemmed from any form of peer pressure. I was, however, very exposed to and had easy access to drugs, due to the lifestyle I was living and the group of friends that I was hanging out with. With Shaun being a drug dealer, ecstasy was always available to me. Whenever I felt like I wanted some, it was pretty much there on the table. With the time I spent with Shaun, my use of ecstasy became more and more frequent until it was no longer giving me the desired effect. It was originally a feeling of being on cloud nine – a kind of euphoria. From Ecstasy I moved to Speed and then Marijuana, and eventually dabbled in the use of ice (Methamphetamine), which was a significantly more addictive drug, and the effect was much more of a rush of energy and almost a feeling of productivity, that made me feel like I could clean the house and save the world all in one day. That feeling of productivity, along with the dissociation from only having it when out clubbing or when in a social environment (we were having it while just sitting around a house), made it all that more habitual, like a glass of wine at the end of the day.
At around the age of 17 or 18, my good friend at the time, Marley, and I formed a very social and outgoing friendship. We would go clubbing together, take lots of drugs and were essentially constantly high on whatever we could get our hands on: whether it be weed, speed, pills, or ice. My mum and I were living in Deer Park at the time. Marley and I were always at the house, having friends over and getting high. It got to the point where my mum decided to move out of the house, because she felt unsafe in her own home with my friends and I constantly around the house, getting high. I would say that, at that stage my drug use was definitely out of control and we were really just constantly seeking out our next hit.
There was a short period of about a year where I had moved away from Melbourne. I had a job working in Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, where I met some great people and I even dated for a while – completely drug free. The experience really gave me purpose and a direction that eventually led me to where I am today. I loved the work that I was doing and the responsibility and productivity of having a full-time job was something that I really enjoyed. After my one-year contract was completed, I moved back to Melbourne, but after reconnecting with old friends, I quickly picked up the habit again.Through my group of friends and the parties that we went to, I met a man named Chris.
Chris was a big-time drug dealer who hung around similar social circles to me. We started off as friends and eventually started dating. When I first met him, I didn’t consider him to be the type of man that I would have ever seen myself with, but I think that the drugs definitely played a big part in our dynamic and I did begin to find myself attracted to Chris. At the time I didn’t know much about the ins and outs of the world of drug dealing but, when we met, he was making the kind of money that could buy things I could only dream of having at the time. Chris always treated me really well and spoiled me rotten. He bought me everything and anything I wanted. We stayed in the most beautiful of places, from fancy hotels to luxurious central Melbourne apartments. That lifestyle in itself was an addiction of its own, never mind throwing an actual addiction to ice in the mix.
This is where my addiction really reached a new level. I was doing the amount of ice that would last most people a whole day or even weekend, several times every single day. I made it clear to Chris that I didn’t ever want anything to do with the dealing side of things, although I did occasionally help out if someone came to the apartment and Chris wasn’t home, but I never went out and dealt on the streets. This period of my life is probably where my story differs from a lot of people’s, because of the protection and security I was provided by Chris stopped me from ending up on the street where I likely would have been otherwise.
Raids, break-ins and unravelling
Things with Chris started to unravel after the first time that our apartment was raided by the police, they turned up to the front door pretending to be an Australia Post courier, and then they swarmed into the apartment, turned the place upside down searching for drugs, and arrested Chris and the other people that were in the house. Chris took the blame for everything and insisted that I had nothing to do with it, which is something that I genuinely really respect him for. Chris ended up being let out late that night, which was surprising to me, but I was glad that he was coming home anyway. After that raid we pretty much stopped keeping anything in the apartment so that if the police came again they wouldn’t find anything.
I think for me the thing that really started to make me realise that I didn’t want to be living this life anymore came when, one week after Chris was let out, a man broke into the apartment looking for Chris, when Chris wasn’t home. He demanded to know when Chris would be home and I insisted that he wasn’t coming home, he wasn’t believing me and began getting really frustrated. The situation escalated when he pulled a gun and held it to my head, threatening me. When he didn’t believe me at first, I was really scared, but when he threatened my dog, Junior, by holding a gun to his head all of my fear went away and I started to fight back, which made him even more angry, and he started to hit me. Our housemate came home during the break-in and was taken hostage by the gunman too. However, he managed to send a message to Chris warning him not to come home, before his phone was taken from him by the gunman. After the ordeal had lasted about an hour or so, he got bored of waiting for Chris to come home, and he left. The experience really drove home the realisation that my life wasn’t in my control anymore. I had gone from a fun loving, bubbly and caring person, to someone who was high on ice, being held at gunpoint and wondering if I was actually going to survive.
After the break-in my relationship with Chris went downhill quite quickly. We barely stayed in the apartment anymore, after the police raid. Chris was in debt and struggling to make ends meet. We began having to scrape together whatever ice we could get our hands on, at once point we were on our hands and knees, combing through the shag rug to find any which had fallen on the ground and been caught in the rug, just to get our fix each day, which was probably the point when the charade ended, and the reality of our situation became raw and apparent. We couldn’t afford the apartment anymore, most of our belongings had been moved to Chris’ dad’s house, and we were fighting all the time. The last fight we had was when we were both in the apartment and there was pretty much just a mattress on the floor and a few other bits and pieces around, and Chris was about to walk out the door, away from our fight. I remember telling him that if he walked out and left me there alone that I wouldn’t be there when he came back in the morning, which was a really heart wrenching ultimatum to have to make, but I was so done with the life that I was living with him, I needed to take a stand. Chris did walk out that door, leaving me broken, confused, alone, and scared to be in the apartment by myself. I haven’t seen him since.
Leaving and getting clean
The next morning, I left the apartment, with not even enough money for a train fare, and just a small backpack of my belongings. I was at absolute rock bottom, but I almost just felt a numbness from everything that had happened, especially the end of my relationship with Chris. When I got to the train station, I remember looking at the ticket inspector with tears running down my face, explaining to her that I needed to get home to my family. I think that she realised how desperate and distraught I was, and she let me through. The fact that the ticket inspector was so kind and generous with me in that moment meant the absolute world to me, I wish I could thank her for how she treated me that morning. Once I got back to my parent’s house in Heidelberg I allowed myself some time to just wallow in my sorrow and misery, before my mother’s partner, who had been studying community services at that point, suggested that it would be beneficial for me to join a TAFE school. which was really the turning point for me. Studying community services for me became my focus, I was so determined to find a way to help other people who have been through similar troubles in their lives. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the help and kindness of my family in that time of need. People always ask me how I managed to get clean without rehab and how I got through the withdrawals, and I honestly think that as unbearable as the withdrawals were at times, I was just operating on the sheer will to leave my old life behind, and to not be the person that I had become anymore. I wanted to be back to myself again, and I was done with living the life that I had been living with Chris. I needed a fresh start, and I think that is what kept me going. In a lot of ways, the withdrawals were nothing compared to the heartache and vulnerability that I was experiencing in the wake of everything that had happened – I just knew I never wanted to be in that place again.
Education and TAFE
The most important thing that I did was going back to school. The new friends that I made at TAFE are really the reason that I have been able to stay clean. They have passions and interests, and most importantly, they have nothing to do with the drug scene. Although I was never forced into drugs or the lifestyle that I had, my age and my surroundings played a part in how susceptible I was to the influence of those around me, I now know how much the people and environment that I surround myself with can affect the direction of my life. Studying also gave me something to work towards, and as cliched as it may sound, a purpose. The people that I surround myself with now encourage and inspire me to the best version of myself, and to work hard for the things that I want.
Current work, life and partner
I am now happily in a relationship with my partner, Sean, who surrounds himself with a positive environment, energy and some of the most beautiful and amazing people that I have ever met, such as a beauty pageant winner who is also a lawyer, doing her bit to make the world a better place. That is exactly what I want to surround myself with – a loving and caring atmosphere. I can safely say that I have never been happier with where I am in my life, I love my job but I am also really enthusiastically looking forward to what comes next and what else my life holds for me. I have a great friendship group and I am more comfortable in myself than I ever have been before, which is what has led me to be here today, I am much more open to sharing my experiences with people and having them share theirs with me too. I have also very recently been given a promotion, so I have been working as a disability support worker, and now I am moving into a support coordinator role, which is a new and exciting challenge that I am eager to undertake. Moving forward, I would really love to work as a youth counsellor, specifically in the Alcohol and other drugs sector.
I have always believed in not regretting anything. I believe that every event that you encounter, no matter how good or bad, goes into developing the person that you are today and that you will be in the future. I was very lucky that during the majority of my experiences and the struggles that went with them, I was surrounded by friends. As trying and difficult as my life was at times, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the journey that I’ve taken in life. While drug addiction isn’t exactly a conventional path to take, it is something that a lot of people do experience, and I want to be able to use my past to show people that you can come out the other side of those hard times, and that you can use that unique perspective to make your life and the lives of people around you better too. I am a better person because of my experiences, and now, through my new career, I am able to help other people too.
If I could give advice to myself at the age when this all began, I would tell myself to not push out the good things in my life, like my family. If I had let them, my family probably could have helped me a lot throughout various times of my life, but I didn’t let them into what I was going through. I would tell myself to understand that we do make mistakes, and to learn from them and ask for help when you need it. it is hard to ask for help sometimes. Trust the people who care about you, let them help you. I would tell anyone in that position to seek out what you want, because your life is in your control, although it may not feel like it sometimes, you have the power to change things for yourself. People are always amazed that I managed to overcome my addiction without going to rehab,
That night when I was all alone in the apartment after Chris had walked out was the lowest that I have ever been in my life. When I think back to that night, I know that I never want to be in that position ever again. Looking back on that time and my life since that night, I know now that nothing is ever hopeless. It might not seem like things can get better, but they can, as long as you strive for a better life, you can have it.