“Barney” was no stranger to the world of drugs.
He began to “dabble and experiment” with marijuana, speed, alcohol and acid in his early to mid teens.
For more than two decades he continued to use those same substances and was a “functioning” drug user.
However, when he tried ice, everything changed.
“That’s what turned me into a monster,” the 43-year-old Odyssey House drug rehabilitation centre client said.
“It took over everything. I was put on AVOs (apprehended violence orders) because my family didn’t want me home. I went to jail (three times) because I breached those AVOs.
“But the third time I was lucky enough to get paroled, put on a two year bond and sent here (to Odyssey House) to complete my parole.”
Barney’s circumstances – which include being molested from 13-16 – may be unique, but his problems with ice are all too common.
Odyssey House chief executive Julie Babineau said the organisation’s 2017 report showed 49 per cent of clients reported ice as their primary drug of concern.
“Ice can have severe negative impacts on people’s personal lives and their physical and mental health. Most find it very difficult to stop using the drug without help,” she said.
“Some people quickly spiral downwards, particularly when their use becomes frequent and ongoing.”
For Barney, drugs were a way of escaping the trauma he suffered as a teenager.
Ice in particular blocked out reality so effectively, he could only remember “bits and pieces” from his time while using the drug.
“I never had any dramas with marijuana – I didn’t have psychological problems with that, speed, acid or alcohol. But ice put me in psychosis,” he said.
“I believed all these crazy things. I was hearing voices and seeing things. I'd go a week at a time without sleep then crash for a day then start again.
“Mentally it took me to a whole new level of not being in reality.
“I can see how people do some pretty violent things on it because you start to believe all this stuff. You think everyone is talking about you or looking at you.”
Despite his three stints in jail, a family break down and the loss of his business, he said he considered himself one of the “lucky ones”.
“There’s plenty of other stories of people out there who have lost everything, lost their lives or are in jail for long periods because of what they have done,” he said.
“I did contemplate suicide and I’d never done that (before I started using ice).
“I thought there was no other way out – I was beyond help. I couldn’t see any way of getting out of the hole I was in.”
Now, with 14 months of help from Odyssey House under his belt, Barney believed he’d finally dealt with his issues that led to drug dependency.
His relationship with his wife and two sons – aged 19 and 22 – was also on the mend.
“It’s really good now but it’s still a work in progress,” he said.
“They’ve put boundaries in place that if I go back down this road again there will be no second chances. But I don’t want to do it (drugs).
“My family is the most important thing, not drugs or money.
“It’s their love that got me through this – I don’t know if I would have been as successful (with rehabilitation at Odyssey House) if I didn’t have them by my side.
“(When on ice) they didn’t feel safe around me. I’m ashamed that I put them in that position. It’s not something I’m proud of.”
“That seven years turned me into a monster.”
*Barney is not his real name. Identity withheld due for personal and privacy reasons.