Highs cost man family, job, home

21:22, May 07 2014

Joseph blew $50,000 on synthetic cannabis during his four-year addiction to the drug.

The 23-year-old lost his job, his home and his family and turned to crime to get his daily hit.

His first high was from synthetic drugs he bought at a dairy in Christchurch.

"It was legal and readily available," Joseph said.

After a year he was smoking 7 grams a day and was spending $700 a week.

"Synthetics are 30 times stronger than cannabis. Some days I felt like I was dying. I felt I was choking on poison. Other days were smooth, I felt I was skating on 10,000 rollerblades."


His daily routine became consumed with getting hits. Each morning he awoke to smoke the drug from a bong before going to his job as a forklift driver.

"I was never high at work. I would wait for the comedown, go to work when the side effects kicked in. During withdrawals I was angry, then depressed. I suffered mood swings. It changed my personality. I was highly addicted. My life revolved around the next bag."

He described himself as being like "the devil" while high.

"I felt like killing people. I was a liar, a cheat, a gambler. I would steal anything to pay for drugs and begged for money."

During one comedown he wrecked a house. Crime became his career. A stint in prison was his wake-up call.

"Prison was the best place for me because I couldn't access drugs. If I had remained in the community I would have struggled."

Joseph has been alcohol and drug-free for six weeks and has returned to Blenheim to start afresh.

He starts work in viticulture in two weeks and is working to regain the trust of his family.

He has become a Christian and dreams of studying law or becoming a chef.

"I am no longer angry or violent. I can concentrate, I remember things and I plan a day ahead. I don't feel worthless, I feel I can make it in life."