Legal highs made me a 'shell of myself'

Last updated 09:30 19/08/2014
synthetic cannabis

ADDICTION: Synthetic cannabis.

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Have you done a fad diet or workout?

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I was 18 and at high school when it all started: a legal weed.

Everyone I knew was doing it and it was legal, so I made the assumption I wouldn't get into trouble or addicted to the drug.

I had been thoroughly educated at high school on the dangers of illegal drugs and alcohol, but never legal drugs.

One year later I was addicted. I could not stop. I spiralled out of control and was a shell of my former self.

I had represented New Zealand for football, and was a sporting star, but all of this was lost to synthetic cannabis.

I managed to hold a job during this time, but not for long. That was when I realised I couldn't keep living with the constant nagging from my body that I needed this substance.

I rung up Work and Income and attempted to go to limited service volunteer (a six-week boot camp) - anything to take my mind and myself away from synthetics.

I found out about a three-week course called Outward Bound and I was off within the week.

That was the craziest decision of my life. I had been what I call a drug addict for over a year and had been constantly smoking. Now I was going to a course where a 3.5km run was the baseline to attend.

I knew I couldn't run it in one go but my determination and drive to win hadn't disappeared, so I went.

It was hard work, but the perfect thing.

I was withdrawing from the drug the first day I arrived and did not get any sleep for the first five or six days. But during these days I was doing a 3.2km run at 6am in the morning, followed by a chilly midwinter swim, a cold shower, then breakfast (which I could never keep down).

Our daily activities were full on and I only managed to last eight out of the 21 days due to collapsing and having multiple seizures. But I have now been clean of synthetic cannabis for more than a year and couldn't be more over the moon about it being taken from the shelves.

I have returned to a normal life and hold two jobs. I have the dream that I will go back and complete Outward Bound as a healthy, sane individual and enjoy it to its fullest.

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