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14 May 2020
This is how my parents, family and friends discovered my best-kept secret: that I was an ice addict.
I had grown up in a very traditional Greek household. My parents were immigrants from Greece. I did well in high school, I went to university, I have a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws, Masters of Laws, and I practised as a solicitor for 10 years at the Australian Government Solicitor agency.
I represented the Commonwealth in high-end litigation in the federal courts, including the High Court, in administrative and in constitutional law matters. And I was good at it.
But in the preceding five years some significant matters went wrong in my life. I had been a regular user of cocaine and ecstasy, but in an effort to hide my inner, emotional turmoil, I turned to even harder drugs.
Very shortly after I tried ice. I reached the point where I had to use it every day to be able to deal with life. My friends that I was living with, and whom I had known since high school, kicked me out of our share house because ice quickly turned me into an arrogant, dishonest and selfish person.
My family thought I was having some kind of breakdown, but could not understand why. My work colleagues described me as being in a “death spiral”.
My use escalated to the point where, despite my income, I had to sell drugs to maintain my addiction. My life was so bad that, immediately after my arrest, I felt nothing but relief that it was over.
I was exhausted, sick, and tired of constantly chasing drugs. My lawyer told me I had to go to rehab.
To be quite frank, when I first walked through the doors at The Salvation Army’s William Booth House, my intention was to do what I had to do to get out of jail and then start using drugs again. Despite hating what ice did to me, it was the only life I could see in front of me.
I wasn’t expecting change. But, you know, this Salvos place is a bit of a miracle.
I considered myself a strong atheist before I went to the Salvos, but I started to find that I enjoyed the spiritual component of the recovery program. I became a believer.
When you see Christianity in practice, like The Salvation Army does it, where the mission is to help other people, you come to appreciate that’s what God wants and that’s what Christianity is all about.
If you had told me five years ago I’d be a drug and alcohol worker for The Salvation Army I would have laughed!
But I feel like I need to give back to this place that has saved my life. It’s strange, I was so focused on trying to make sure I didn’t get struck off the roll to practise law and now that the opportunity’s there to be a lawyer again I don’t want it!
I get to help people here at William Booth House, I get to see people transform. My existence is an example to them that they can recover from addiction.
I thank God that I was arrested, I think it was God’s will because that act saved my life. I’m sure I’d be dead otherwise.
*AS TOLD TO LAUREN MARTIN
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