Michael is now drug-free and although breaking the habit was a tough journey, he’s overcome the battle and looks forward to a bright, happy and content future.
This is his story:
I was 14 when I started smoking weed.
It was harmless and just a bit of fun maybe once a month with my friends at the skate park. I went to the skate park a lot. I was really into BMXing and I loved it there.
My friends asked if I wanted a hit and I couldn’t say no. I was young and foolish, I know that now.
It wasn’t long before I was hooked. My friends got more and more into it and so did I.
It wasn’t a huge habit. I was only spending about $25 a week.
But that didn’t last long. When I was about 16 the habit escalated. I was smoking weed about every second day and my motivation levels started to fade.
My school work started to suffer because I had no motivation. I achieved NCEA Level 2 but I know now that I’d have done a lot better if I’d stayed away from weed and had better friends.
I started selling some possessions to cover my now $50 a week habit, or I’d lie and ask my parents for money. I’d say it was for a haircut or something.
I was smoking weed every day now. I’d become really selfish and I’d stopped hanging out with people just so I could smoke.
I lost all of my friends and the weed made me anxious in social settings.
I stopped going to the skate park because I’d lost the motivation. I was spending more and more time away from home and I was eating less food and smoking more weed.
It was the only way to satisfy the intense cravings.
My parents found out when Mum found a bong in my bedroom. They told me they were disappointed in me and that absolutely crushed me. They’re great parents and I’d disappointed them.
I knew at this point that I was depressed, but I just didn’t want to stop. I felt guilty every time I smoked weed but I kept doing it anyway.
The problem was I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it too much. Weed made me feel good and gave me a different perspective on life. Although, if I was in a bad mood it would make it much worse!
If I didn’t have weed, I’d start thinking about when I’d be able to get more.
At 18 I was spending between $400 and $500 a week on weed and alcohol. I was working at the meat works so I had plenty of money.
But things got even worse.
I was in a deep depression and I started mixing it up. I was taking acid, magic mushrooms, legal synthetics, cough syrup and, at my worst, methamphetamine.
When I took methamphetamine I had a complete lack of purpose and I feel it made my depression that much worse.
I stopped eating and when I did it didn’t sit well.
My perspective changed one day when I had a really bad drug experience which included a psychotic breakdown. That combined with the guilt, the disappointment from family, the breakdown of relationships and depression, caused a change within me.
It became clear to me that I needed to make a change and so, about two or three months ago, I did.
I stopped doing drugs cold turkey. I relapsed a couple of times but it didn’t have the same effect on me as it used to.
It was really hard. I got shaky and I felt really tired, but I just started changing my habits. Instead of smoking weed I’d go for a walk and get out in nature.
I came to Nga Kete and although one-on-one counselling wasn’t for me there were plenty of other options. I attended the Te Rongo Pai Support Group and Art Therapy. It’s really good to be able to relate to others and hear their thoughts and opinions.
I’ve learnt some great skills here like social skills and coping strategies, and it’s given me routine and a bit of purpose which I really need at the moment.
Recently I attended the Hikoi Te Hauora Recovery Boot Camp. It was a great experience! It was a good change of environment that helped to clear my head. The camp helped improve my confidence and social skills.
I’ve definitely learnt a lot in the past few weeks.
I’ve learnt that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone needs to call out for help sometimes. We can’t do life alone. I’ve learnt that negative things will just bring you down, but positive things will give you the energy you need.
I’m hoping for a positive future full of contentment, peace but also thrill, and personal growth. I’m hoping to rebuild relationships, and keep working on my communication skills. I’m also hoping to give surfing a go, or some sort of extreme sport.
There’s no going back for me now.