Confessions of a dealer part 2: Repairing the damage done
PATRICK Smith has finally found the high he's been chasing for more than 20 years.
Ironically, it has come not from drugs but the simple act of waking up each morning with a clear head.
Yesterday, The Daily Examiner delved into Mr Smith's consuming addiction to crystal methamphetamine and time as a drug dealer in the Clarence Valley.
Five months after deciding to quit, he says he has now been totally clean for three months.
The 42-year-old said each day was a victory.
"A lot of people have said it's only three months but every day you are off it is important," he said.
"When I first kicked it, I was waking up screaming and had nightmares. Whatever I thought about that day came back to haunt me at night. It was really devastating.
"But it was about finding the right anti-depressants as well. The best thing you can do at the end of the day is go to your doctor, and be honest about what you're doing."
Mr Smith believes he is an exception to the rule of recovering addicts - while some people think about it every day, he says it doesn't even cross his mind anymore.
"It's the best decision I've ever made," he said.
"Being straight for me, I've finally found the high that I've been chasing and that's called being straight and enjoying life. It's a real buzz for me."
He said his mum and uncle have been his biggest supports in his journey to recovery.
"As soon as I quit drugs, very few of my friends stuck around," he said.
"They weren't really my friends, and the friends I haven't seen in 20 years have all come back into my life and are so proud of me and encouraging me to keep doing what I'm doing.
"I can't relapse - I've got too many people relying on me." Three weeks ago, Mr Smith stood up in public for the first time and spoke about his experiences at an ice information session at the Yamba Bowling Club.
At the end, he received a standing ovation.
"When I went to the conference I thought 'man, I'm going to this because I want to stop it'," he said.
"It's widespread, it's everywhere, and because people largely condone smoking marijuana, and ice is a smoking drug, it's becoming accepted as a party drug."
As for the part he played in the supply of crystal methamphetamine to the community, he makes no excuses for his behaviour.
"(Some dealers) want to be 'the man', they want to be the kingpin so to speak but they don't realise there is no kingpin," he said.
"I intend to spend the next 20 years repairing the damage I've caused in the last 20 years."
Now the ex-user is planning to host his own conference on ice on August 28 with the help of Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.
"With ice, because it seems so new to everybody, there's nobody to reflect on what it's like and for me it's been my life.
"Now that everybody knows who I am hopefully people will feel they can reach out to me."