“I WAS normal once, now ice has taken everything that was ever normal in my life.”
Elliott’s voice shakes when he recalls three years of severe substance abuse at the hands of the destructive drug ice.
His body is frail, his face is scabbed and his arms are showing signs of the needles that have injected crystal methamphetamine into his blood.
Drugs have always been a part of his adult life, but before he came into contact with ice he was always able to maintain a regular life with ease.
Now, the father of one is at the mercy of a drug that has ruined his relationship, taken his son and cost him a job.
Elliott, 28, is addicted to ice.
He has been clean for more than a month but is a long way from being cured; he has gone up to three months without using before.
“Once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict,” he says.
“It sounds ridiculous, but when you’re addicted you need the drug to get you through day-to-day activities when it is actually the drug that ruins your daily life.”
When he is on the drug he feels alive, extremely energetic and content with life.
As a sober man he is almost comatose, but with an unabating thirst and hunger, due to days without eating or drinking.
He has gone as long as nine days without a wink of sleep – some users are known to go even longer.
But Elliott never planned to take ice.
He used speed (amphetamines) recreationally with friends on weekends, before the supply dried up in Ballarat and ice became the drug of choice.
“I remember the first time I used it, the feeling was just so intense,” Elliott recalls.
“You just never want that feeling to stop. Your energy is through the roof and you feel great.”
Working as a welder, boiler maker and at times crane driver, Elliott admits he often went to work either under the influence of drugs, or suffering extreme sleep depravation.
“At the time you feel fine but I look back and think ‘s--- that was actually really dangerous’,” he said.
“I was getting paid about $1000 a week and spending $600 that day on drugs. It plays with your mind and overtakes your life.
“At the peak of my addiction I thought of holding up a service station just to make some money. I could never bring myself to do it but I was that close.”
He has been clean for a month, but the impact of ice on Elliott’s body cannot be hidden.
“It does a lot of damage to your body, as you can see I’ve still got skin issues from it,” he said.
“People who don’t have the addiction don’t understand it. It causes so much drama and chaos, you don’t want to do it. You don’t enjoy it when you’re doing it, you just need it to get through day-to-day life.”
If it was not for the birth of his son about 14 months ago, Elliott does not know where he would be.
He still sees his son regularly, but does not have legal custody of him.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything to see me lose my son, he was my saving grace. He has helped me want to fix my own life,” Elliott said.
“I didn’t care about much before he arrived, if he wasn’t here I probably would be robbing servos or be in jail.”
Now he has aspirations of studying neuroscience at university, focusing on the mental health aspects he believes are behind so many drug problems in society.
“If only the government helped find out what was behind the drug problem,” he said.
“The ‘war on drugs’ has been going for god knows how long and it doesn’t work, more people are addicted than ever. We have to find out what is causing this problem and help these people.
“It’s chaos in Ballarat at the moment and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.”