I was 14 when I started drinking alcohol.
It was just a bit of harmless fun with friends about once a month.
It was the beginning of a destructive path on my way to daily alcohol, cannabis and synthetic drug abuse for the majority of my adult life.
I grew up in an emotionless, workaholic family. At school I had no self-esteem, was easily distracted and often seeking attention.
But I found my confidence at 14 when I had my first drink. I could say what I wanted to say and do what I wanted to do.
From that very first drink I had to drink to get drunk. One was never enough. Half a bottle of spirits at a time would be the absolute minimum I would drink. Most of the time I’d black out, only to start all over again.
I was now drinking weekly and I started experimenting with cannabis, and I was smoking cigarettes. I was 15 and I had a job so I could pay for it.
Once I left school at 16 I was drinking and smoking cannabis daily. I left home and moved into a flat (party house) and I continued on the same destructive path for the next five or six years.
I started using synthetic cannabis as well and I became a heavy daily user for about two years. I’d spend half my week’s income on it and I would smoke it every 10-15 minutes. I just couldn’t sit still.
It all came to a crashing halt after I turned to crime and found myself in prison.
Upon my release I got a full-time job, started going to church, got married, and had children.
Life was on the up but I was still heavily addicted. One day, I took a good hard look at myself and realized I had a problem and I didn’t want to carry on the way I was. So, I quit everything cold turkey.
In doing so, I went into a drug induced psychosis and I was admitted to a mental health unit. I endured months of depression after that and my marriage broke up.
All of this combined led me to self-refer to Nga Kete. I knew the agency was a huge heart beat in the community and I needed support to get my life back on track.
Nga Kete provided me with drug and alcohol counselling and I have been attending some of the agency’s groups such as Art Therapy, Te Rongo Pai Support Group, and the new Tane Group. It’s been so important to know the support is there for me.
Te Rongo Pai is very supportive, educational, and good to get your opinion across. I feel like my purpose in the group is to be an inspiration to others now, and to show there is hope.
Art Therapy gave me another outlet to incorporate into my wellness. I was also lucky enough to attend the Hikoi te Hauora Addiction Recovery Camp this year, which I’d thoroughly recommend to those in early recovery that are seeking alternatives to using.
I’ve been sober for three years.
I feel alive now that I’ve had time to explore who I really am. I really enjoy life and I live for my children. I have enrolled in a mental health support work course with an aspiration of joining the social services, perhaps addiction services.
I’m looking forward to a bright future. There’s just so much potential now!