'I crave it every day': Ex-addict speaks out for first time

IN THE midst of a drug-fuelled rage, Sean Redding punched his own father in the face.

It was then that he decided to give up injecting ice for good, and he knows he'll live with those consequences for the rest of his life.

"I had an argument with my father while I was coming down off ice, and I hit him," Sean said.

"He disowned me. He said he'd never talk to me again until I cleaned myself up."

It's been nine years since Sean punched his father, and it's been nine years since he's touched drugs.

"Dad and I have become really close," the 45-year-old said.

"We talk on the phone every day."

But the former Kingaroy resident didn't always have his life on track.

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He started using ice in 2001, and by 2008 - when he went cold turkey - he'd lost everything.

"I lost my girlfriend, my kids, my cars. I probably lost $250,000-$300,000.

"I had a $250 a day habit, but I can proudly say I never turned to crime to fuel that."

Sean said there were many reasons that caused him to turn to drugs.

"My father was a Vietnam veteran and he was mucked up from the way he was treated, and distant because of his mental scars.

"He's only just starting to come good. He was never there for us emotionally - I was 43 when I first heard him say, 'I love you'," he said.

"My mother was also a chronic gambler and alcoholic.

"I basically used the drugs to mask my depression and my childhood, as a lot of people do."

The day after Sean punched his dad, he got on a plane and flew from Newcastle to Brisbane.

"I locked myself in a friend's house for a couple of weeks and just sweated it out - I went cold turkey.

"I had to remove myself from everyone and everything. At the time Newcastle was the ice capital of Australia. It was easier to get ice than anything else, even pot," he said.

"I made a promise to my dad that I'd get off it and I did.

"But not a day goes past that I don't have a craving," he said.

"But I know I'm stronger now.

"If I get back on it I will lose everything again.

"And I can't afford to hit rock bottom again because I know what the end result will be: death."

These days Sean leads a quiet life in Fernvale, where he's self-employed, running his own cleaning business.

Just last week he spent a few days at Bribie Island on a fishing holiday with his 14-year-old daughter.

"I get to see her now whenever I like," he said.

Sean believes better awareness about mental health would go a long way in providing support for drug users.

"I've thought a couple of times about becoming a drug and alcohol counsellor.

"Ninety per cent of counsellors are textbook counsellors, but I think you have to have lived the life to know what they're going through, or what they've been through."

Sean said he knew how hard it was to fight addiction, and didn't want anyone to ever feel alone in their experience.

"At first I didn't want you to use my full name, but now I do want you to. If I can help one person get off this stuff, it's worth it," he said.

"If any parent needs to talk, they can contact me, even if one of the kids needs help."

In the mean time, he has one piece of advice for anyone trying to kick their drug habit.

"Stay strong, that's the only advice I can give you."

Email marguerite.cuddihy@southburnetttimes.com.au to be put in touch with Sean Redding.

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