'It was hell': Former Mandurah drug dealer recounts his darkest days

A former Mandurah drug dealer says he is on the path to recovery after 26 years of "hell", which involved multiple suicide attempts, relationship breakdowns and psychotic episodes, stemming from his methamphetamine addiction.

Craig, 34, began using drugs at eight years old after being introduced to marijuana by a high school boy, who he said sexually abused him.

"He said, 'If you tell your parents, I will tell them you were smoking dope'," he said.

"It wasn't until I was 26 that I told mum and dad what had happened."

Falling Through the Cracks - Week One:

The traumatic incident and the bullying Craig experienced in school, prompted him to "numb the pain", with drugs and binge drinking.

"I never felt like I fitted in anywhere," he said.

"I wasn't the best looking kid. I had buck teeth, glasses and crossed eyes.

"I had four operations to try and get my eyes straight so I wouldn't be bullied anymore.

"My first attempt at suicide was in year 6."

I just wanted to die, I was angry at them all for saving me.

Craig Barry

Craig tried meth at 14 years old. He became heavily dependent on alcohol at age 18, when he began working as an offshore rigger.

"I used to drink everyday after work or smoke weed - I'd always have some substance in my body," he said.

Craig said he learned how to cheat breath tests and drug swabs.

"I used fake urine or I'd drink a litre of vinegar - there are so many ways to fake the tests," he said.

"I couldn't stop using before the test so it was easier just to cheat it."

Mandurah's drug underworld 

When work slowed down, Craig would deal drugs in Mandurah.

The father-of-three said he quickly rose to the top of the ranks. At his most profitable, Craig could make $5000 in a day.

"It's in high demand but I ended up falling down many times," he said.

"I've had people knock on my door with guns. It scared me that they could have pulled the trigger and my son was in the house on his own, and wouldn't know what to do with his dad on the floor.

"I wanted to make enough money to walk away from it all."

So as not to feel depressed, Craig would go days and even sometimes weeks without sleeping.

Craig experienced drug-induced psychosis, which involved hearing voices whispering.

"It was hell," he said.

Craig said his "undoing" was when an acquaintance stole three kilograms of his meth.

"That cost me about $150,000 but I would have got up to half a million for it," he said.

"I couldn't afford to feed my addiction anymore."

Rock-bottom

On November 21, 2017, in the depths of despair and struggling to get clean, Craig hung himself on his back patio.

Craig said his partner came home to find him unconscious.

"I came to with ambos and cops around me," he said.

"I just wanted to die, I was angry at them all for saving me."

Craig said he spent eight days in Fiona Stanley Hospital for swelling to the brain and brain damage.

"I discharged myself after eight days and started using again," he said.

Craig fell deeper into depression and meth dependence, which eventually resulted in a loss of cognitive ability.

"My speech kept deteriorating every time I used," he said.

"I knew what I wanted to say, I just couldn't get it out of my mouth - it scared my kids.

"It took me 10 minutes to say 'I love you' to my partner.

"It started affecting my balance. I couldn't walk in a straight line, I couldn't stand up straight - I had to hold onto something."

Craig said his partner ended the relationship because she could not see him "slowly kill" himself.

'There's hope for everyone'

Craig said a rehab stint at Serenity Lodge in Rockingham got him on the straight and narrow and Narcotics Anonymous in Mandurah had kept him clean.

Craig has been drug-free for more than nine months.

"Meth is a wonder drug because it stops you feeling," he said.

"Like putting your life on pause. To this day, I still love the affect it gives you.

"But, s**t compiles and gets worse. The things you're hiding from that you don't want to deal with just build up.

"When you come back to reality you think 'oh I've got to deal with this again'. So you use.

"But, meth is just the symptom. The problem is with our mental health."

Craig said he had "ruined families" by dealing drugs.

"Yes, it was their choice, but I wasn't doing the community a favour," he said.

But, Craig said he would make sure he does not go down that path again.

"I know both sides of Mandurah," he said.

"I know what goes on when the lights go off and I know what it's like when the sun's out.

"Some people just don't have hope, but there's hope for everyone."

For information on Narcotics Anonymous Mandurah meeting information, visit http://wana.org.au/ or call 1300 652 820.

If you or someone you know needs urgent support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline (5 to 25 years) on 1800 55 1800.