Dad proud of beating addiction
He was a "late drinker" - about 12 years old. Drugs were his first addiction of choice.
At the age of 9, Ross Thompson entered into a cycle of addiction that eventually led him to join a gang and later serve time in prison.
Mr Thompson said his addiction stemmed from living in a "dysfunctional home" as a child.
"I found escapism through drugs was easier than dealing with the raw things," Mr Thompson said.
His life spiralled out of control until he was 30 but it was the prospect of fatherhood that shifted his perspective.
"I just had enough, I had enough of getting high and decided I needed to clean up."
He waited nine months before he was accepted into a rehabilitation programme.
Now more than a decade on, Mr Thompson recognises the pull of addiction but has remained sober for the past 12 years. "I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't have got so low," he said.
Mr Thompson is now a consumer consultant for the Southern District Health Board, assisting the board tailor and resolve consumer issues within their drug and alcohol services.
Despite the challenges he had faced, Mr Thompson said he was proud of several things he had achieved in the past 10 years - most significantly, being a dad to his young daughter.
The Southland Times