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I am a man set free

I am a man set free

I am a man set free

Ashley says he is a “new man” since completing The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program for people suffering from addictions.

By Ashley

Pushing a shopping trolley aimlessly through the streets of Southport on the Gold Coast, with nothing in it but my three striped bags of possessions, I felt sad and lost.

Minutes earlier I had used 
a needle that still had blood on it from the previous user, but I had no regard for my life. I just wanted to get high, end my pain. Here I was, 46 years old, a broken man.

At the age of 30 I was on top of the world. I was wholesaling cars, and I was good at it. I drove a Porsche, earned more than $10,000 a week at one point, wore Hugo Boss clothing and bought multiple properties.

But I was also an intravenous methamphetamines drug user. I was using drugs socially – marijuana and speed.

I’d used them as a kid to block out anxiety and depression, which were part of my childhood. I was also snorting cocaine,
 a habit which escalated quickly, and was soon costing $1500 a day.

Really, I thought I was quite the man, but I was shallow and self-centred, focused on image and material possessions. I was a showman with an ego, good at talking rubbish and living a lie.

The cocaine was part of my success image and I hoped it would help people to like me.

At first the drugs helped, gave me confidence, but then the opposite happened and I spiralled out of control. Even when my son was born on Christmas Day, a miracle IVF baby, I kept using drugs.

My wife left me, I lost my job and lived in a tent in a caravan park. Seven years ago I got clean for 10 months and then re- lapsed. I was shooting up ice and heroin, something I thought I would never do.

And now, here I was pushing my trolley.

I knew that something had to change, that somewhere, there had to be hope, and love.

I entered Fairhaven (The Salvation Army’s Recovery Services Centre at Mt Tamborine) determined not to go back to drugs and a broken, empty life.

I had been here before, four years earlier, but I had no higher purpose in
 my life. This time, I wanted change.

As a 46-year-old man with a 13-year-old boy, it had to happen. The recovery process through the Salvos’ Bridge Program is tough, disciplined and intense, but I knew that if I had hope, and love in my heart, I could get through it. That was the major turning point for me to continue to fight.

Today, I have graduated from Fairhaven. I have a good job selling cars, I have good friends and I have God. This is so much more than the material riches of the past. This journey is all about love. God is love, and he is in my heart. That’s all I need to know.

I was so lonely back then and now I have connection. Connection – that is the opposite of addiction. The Bridge Program is amazing. Through the steps it has connected me with myself, with others and with God. My caseworker was amazing and enabled me to go deep, bringing up a lot of stuff around my defects and assets, my resentments, my conduct in relationships.

With God in my life, I see myself now 
as a beautiful person with a loving heart and beautiful friends – and hope has been ignited. I didn’t realise that family and friends were so important. I’d pushed everyone away and had nothing, nobody.

I’m finding out who I am, and see who and where I want to be. I’m open, honest and genuine. For such a long time I was like the walking dead. Now I have life.

I’m a man set free. 


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