Matthew's story was initially shared on an earlier version of this site - DrugHelp.

 

My name's Matthew. I live in Wellington and I've been drug free for eight years.

I first started to use drugs and alcohol when I was 13. Just living on the streets, sleeping rough, hanging out, not going to school. It was safer for me at that time not to be living at home. I started to experiment with harder drugs, and then by my 30's meth was around. It seems like life's one big party at the time. Reality is not there. You're actually trying to escape reality in a way because of what happened when I was younger.

Flashbacks are a strange thing. You have to determine the reality of them and remember back to what was happening when you were having the flashback and you have to recall time. And of course, when you do have an addiction, time's not really of importance.

I had a job here. I was a commercial cleaner on building sites. So I was starting to make a bit more money and I enjoyed working. I enjoyed doing something for a while, even though I did use drugs at work and always drunk after work. I had a really good boss at the time who still looks after me to this day even though I don't work for him. He looks out for me.

Having the job was a turning point that I didn't have to do criminal activity to maintain my addiction regime.

It's hard to sit here and say you had to do criminal activity to fund an addiction, but it's not something you want to have a day without drugs either because you don't want to be in reality.

Come into contact with a mental health. I look back, I don't know whether I was drug seeking, looking for another drug, or just wanting to talk about how I'd been sad all those years ago and not been able to express it to anybody that I knew because I didn't think they'd understand. So I went to them and I started talking about things that are going on in my life that I didn't understand and I didn't know how to piece together.

Photo of Matthew

I started to really be curious about why I was an addict. Started to sit during the day and to question everything that was going on around me. It helped me to reflect on my own behavior and what I wanted to accomplish in the future to change things for my life for the better - have goals, have a job, have a good income. Be able to do normal things that people who walked pass me every day were doing. So I decided I would give up. I didn't want to be an addict anymore. My life - I wasn't enjoying anything. There was no enjoyment anywhere. I couldn't stand what was going on.

So I just cut all ties with everybody that I knew and just stopped. Making a decision to stop alcohol and drugs gave me the enthusiasm for life again. It made me think more positively about how my future could be and the goals I could set and how to go about them.

I met some good people at that time and they gave me support and encouragement that I could do things that I dreamed of doing. Things I thought about and I said, I'd love to do that one day. And they said, well you can. Just plan it. Set some goals. Try and accomplish small ones at the start and have more goal setting in the back of your head when you're doing the small goals.

The first few goals I started setting was gaining employment and a place to live where I felt comfortable. Where I felt like I didn't have to use. And being able to turn up to work every day and to be happy to be there.

I have several hobbies now. I really enjoy physical fitness. I like going to the gym. I'm about to set some goals on running. And just take your time and don't rush into everything. And don't worry about little things that happen. They won't last for long. The small things disappear very quickly. As an addict, I think you always blow up about little things that happen. And really you just have to let it be and let it pass.

Some of the goals now are way past and I keep adding on to the goals, to do with fitness and stuff like that, I just keep setting new goals.

And I'm looking forward to doing more.

Photo of Matthew

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This experience was shared by a young, queer Māori man as part of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Aids Foundation and NZ Drug Foundation.