“At the start I’d just have it on weekends and then it got worse and worse and I needed more and more; I’d become a shadow of my former self.”
Colac’s Robert Jacobson dabbled with drugs for 25 years.
He looks back now at the peak of his addiction and he knows he didn’t like the person he’d become.
But the former business owner who ended up on the dole and spending whatever money he had on drugs instead of food, hopes by sharing his story of recovery he can give other people hope that they can also turn their lives around.
“In this day and age, I don’t think there are many families that haven’t been affected by either alcohol or drug addiction,” Robert said.
“For me it started with marijuana when I was 13; at that stage I raced BMXs, I was doing well at school and I got into the state championships.
“I was the seventh best rider in my age class in Victoria and after that I started hanging out with older blokes.
“But I never raced BMXs after that; the marijuana got hold of me and then over the years I progressed to speed, to ecstasy and then eventually to ice,” he said.
“I’d seen it all come in and had a dabble and just thought this is what you do of a weekend.”
Robert would stop taking drugs for a week or maybe longer “every now and then” but he’d always go back to what was a familiar pastime.
But the arrival of methamphetamine on the local drug scene was a game changer for Robert and the many others who rapidly progressed from “recreational” drug users to ice addicts.
“Ice is 25 times more addictive than cigarettes, that’s just my opinion,” Robert said.
“I was a loving father and family member and I’d turned into a different person.
“I was running my own painting business, had a good business employing five or six people but then I went from just smoking (ice) on the weekends to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
“Work started diving and looking back I probably wasn’t running the business properly; I was not in the right frame of mind.
“I ended up letting the business go and decided to go away and work on the railways; but I started smoking during the week.
“Then it went to me being on the dole, using ice regularly, and some days there would only be pickles in the fridge; I’d spent all my money on drugs.
“My daughter, she’s my absolute best friend, she was there for me, and everything is forgiven and forgotten now, but she had to move out,” he said.
“If I look back now she used to look up to me, we’d do heaps of stuff together, and we still loved each other but she could see her loved one becoming a shadow of himself.”
But while Robert knew his life was out of control, it took the father of his daughter’s friend to come forward and offer the help that led to his eventual recovery.
“He did a bit of an intervention on me; he approached me about my drug addiction and led me to mental health counselling,” he said.
“I owe him a lot, I don’t think I could have done it on my own.
“I was estranged from friends and family, I’d gone from being a nice guy and I didn’t like the person I’d become.
“But if you’re a drug addict you don’t necessarily know where to go but the guy who helped me had friends that had been down the same path.”
Robert said he hoped by sharing his experience and through other stories in the Herald that the path to recovery from drug addiction could be clearer for people looking for help.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.