I have been the chief executive of several companies and before that was a general manager of the NSW Legal Aid Commission. I am blessed with good health, a loving wife, successful children and staggeringly beautiful grandchildren. And for a short time, from the age of 63, I was an ice addict.
When acquaintances asked me if I wanted to try a pipe of "Tina", I didn’t know what they were talking about. I had never tried drugs, was a social drinker and non-smoker. They were high performing, successful people who were smoking methamphetamine to stay awake and work harder, longer hours. I was exhausted and stressed and before long, I joined them.
Addiction came hard and fast. Within four months my personality had completely changed. Swinging from paranoia to hallucinations, I had a city apartment where I lived during the week which enabled me to hide what I was doing from my family. On weekends, I would head home out of Sydney to continue my usual routine of family dinners and household chores, covering up my addiction as best as I could.
It was a paranoid episode, that finally tipped them off. The day of my deepest shame, and greatest pride, was when my children came to my rescue. They virtually kidnapped me from the apartment and put me into treatment. Regardless of my mistakes, they loved me. My wife and I had raised them to be strong and compassionate.
That wasn’t the end of my addiction. I relapsed and ended up in the criminal justice system. As someone who had, among other things, been involved in the work of the Nagle Royal Commission into NSW Prisons, it was certainly a dramatic turn of events.
Having experienced drug addiction and both sides of the justice system, it is clear to me that drug laws must be changed. When a person is within the grasp of addiction, police, courts and prisons are not the most effective means to support them to make changes for the better.
The recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice are an excellent blueprint for badly needed reform, backed by evidence.