Matt Murphy, 29, a former client from the Seasons Bali program returned to island to celebrate his 2 year milestone, last month. This former drug and gun dealer is a shining example of the changes we see on a daily basis at Seasons Bali. With a perfect blend of our expertise and a whole load of personal grit, leopards can truly change their spots. Speaking from his boots, Matt tells his story of addiction and how Seasons Bali helped him take off in a new direction.
Street Fighting Man
I had been drinking since I was thirteen and had been taking drugs since I was seventeen. In-between those years I thought it was the town I was in, the place, the people that I used to hang around. I grew up in a small town where everybody drank, there were three pubs in town and everyone used to go there and there really wasn’t anything to do except drink. I hung around with people older than me. I started work when I was 13 and I started fighting in pubs and getting kicked out. Because I was in a small town I found loop holes so I didn’t get barred. I used to bootleg alcohol and sell it to the pubs cheap so they wouldn’t bar me.
Changing the Outside
When I was 18, I thought it was the town that was the problem. I thought if I moved place, moved environment, got a new job and got a partner, had children and bought a house it would all change. So I did all that. I moved to Melbourne and got a job as a concreter and that was an even bigger drinking culture than the one that I just came from. To get the job all I had to tell them was that I drank. I found a girl, had a child and bought the house.
Everybody said to me if you keep going like you are you will be bankrupt and back home living with your parents by the age of 21. I thought they had no idea. I had my life intact. By the time I was 20, I had a child who was 9 months old and I got home from work and the house was empty my partner was gone and so was my son. There was a bed and a fridge left. She had a removal truck in while I was at work.
I quit work the next day because I figured: ‘Why work if I don’t have a family to support?’, and I started dabbling in speed. I had been smoking cannabis for the last two years but I hated the way it made me feel, all down and tired. I just wanted to be up and going so the day my ex walked out was the day that I stopped taking dope and started on the speed and selling it.
Because I wasn’t working I couldn’t make any house repayments so I saw an accountant and he told me to take out a large loan and go bankrupt the next day. So that’s what I did, it was enough to get me started again and I took the money and hid it in a cupboard where no one knew where it was. Three months later I went to go and get some money and there was none left. I thought people had stolen it and but nobody knew where it was. I drank and used the whole lot so I was living back with my parents.
I became a full time criminal to support my habit. Everyone else was making money and I wanted to know how. They showed me the ropes, how to scam people and rip people off and then I became sick of dealing with 50 or 100 people at a time selling little bits so I thought the best way to do it was to go big and sell to less people. I started dealing with 3 or 4 people and selling large amounts. I got in to selling guns and selling anything I could make money off. I would have sold you the rocks out of your garden.
I started to justify that I was better and it was ok because I ripped off large companies with good insurance and I never ripped off the working person because I knew they worked for their money. I just didn’t have a care. Then I started paying young guys to do the robberies for me so therefore I wasn’t doing them and I wasn’t as bad. I justified everything I did.
“I went on like that: drinking, using and ripping people off for about the next 6 years. And I always had this thing in the back of my mind that I would be dead before the age of 25. Eight days before my 25 birthday I had a car accident.
I had been up for 13 days and I drove my car and hit a tree. I woke up not knowing what had happened. I knew that I had had a car accident and I thought that I was OK and that I had broken my wrist and my leg. I dragged myself out of the vehicle, it was about 3 am and I had no idea what was going on. I looked down and both legs were facing me at a 90 degree angle. My right leg was snapped in 3 places and my left was snapped from the ankle right down to the toe bones. In fact I had broken 80% of the bones in my body and almost lost the sight in my eye.
My right arm was facing me and I thought it was raining because I couldn’t see anything. It was actually blood in my eyes, I had glass in my eye and I didn’t know. I lay there and screamed for help. I thought I was dead, I was on a back road and the nearest house was about 500 metres away. This guy came and to this day I don’t know who he was or what he looked like. He kept telling me that it was going to be alright and that someone was coming to help. I kept asking him to help me but he wouldn’t come near me.
Then this girl turned up and she worked in the local supermarket she knew who I was and she came and sat with me and kept me awake until they got me into an ambulance and to the hospital. I spent a total of 5 months in hospital and had to learn to walk again.
How Do You Say No?
They sent me home to my parents’ house in a wheel chair…I would cry myself to sleep at night and I was adamant that I would never use again. I was sitting outside in my wheel chair having a smoke and a friends came over and said: ‘How about we have a drink.’
I said yes because I didn’t know how to say no. So I drank and drank and then half an hour later I said let’s get on some drugs and before long I was smoking a crack pipe in my parents shed. Then the rollercoaster started again it went from every weekend, then every second day until I was back to using daily again.
Legend in your Own Head
I begged my parents to move back into my own house because I knew that I could do whatever I wanted there. I had physio every day in Melbourne, turning up there as high as a kite sometimes not turning up at all, back dealing drugs, doing all the things I was doing before I had that accident.
The more I went on the deeper I got in. Instead of being involved with one crew I was involved with them all. I thought it was cool because I was famous, everyone knew who I was. I had police come to my house from a different state and they knew my reputation. I used to think that was great. They’d come to my house and raid it and find nothing and I would abuse them and tell them what I thought I thought of them. I thought I was smart.
My record was slowly increasing with charges so I was selfish and if I did get caught with stuff in my house I would blame it on my partner because her record was clean and I knew that she could take X amount of charges before she would go to jail. And so I would build her charges up and mine would dwindle down. I was using her and everyone around me to do what I needed to do. I got into a lot of debt and I owed some people some serious money.
Kidnapped – Russian roulette
I got myself involved in a gun deal which I knew I shouldn’t have done. But I had to take the chance to make that money because otherwise I was dead either way. I got ripped off for 10,000 and got kidnapped two hours later. They played Russian roulette with me and the gun missed me by one chamber. My parents had to pay $10,000 within 5 hours or they were going to shoot me. There was no doubt, in that world that these people would have done it.
My partner got me out and they told me to get out of the game, if they saw me again I was dead. As soon as I was free I thought: ‘Who are they?’ So I kept going. I paid people for protection and paid people to stay in my house. I did my best to pay everyone off to make sure I was untouchable.
It got a point where I had another car accident, not as bad and I got wind that my daughter who was 3 years old was going to get kidnapped. That scared me. It was the first time that something scared me. Instead of stopping I moved her into my parents’ house. My house would get run through and my partner was in danger. I had money everywhere and I had no idea what to do.
Jail or Rehab?
I had about some serious charges for growing dope, stolen goods, threats to kill and my solicitor said that I had to go to rehab otherwise I would go to jail. I didn’t know what rehab was. I didn’t know what detox was. I had heard of AA but I thought it was for people who had got bashed in the pub too many times and that they had made this little group so that they could drink in safety. I thought that I didn’t need to go there because I could fight.
I found a rehab for 6 weeks. By this time, a week before I got in I had been run out of town, somebody pulled a gun on me and was going to shoot me so I jumped in my car with my partner, left everything in my house and went on the run. I got a pay-out for my accident and I gave the money to a good friend to pay off all my debt of $250,000. I paid it and ran. Even though I paid my debt, I hurt a lot of people and I did a lot of bad things so people were still after me.
Pride and Weakness
A few weeks before I went into rehab I had the realisation that I couldn’t stop Ice. I was sitting at the coffee table with my scales, my crack pipe and a bottle of Wild Turkey, and my partner came out and said to me: ‘You need to stop’. I told her I could stop whenever I liked so she picked up my drugs and ran to the toilet and went to flush them. I pulled a gun on her and she said ‘You can’t stop’. From that moment I knew I couldn’t stop but I wasn’t telling anyone that I could because I thought it made me weak.
Escape to Rehab
I was living from hotel to hotel to Caravan Park for the next week until I could get into rehab where I knew I would be safe but I didn’t know if my partner would be safe. I got to that rehab and it was on a farm in the middle of nowhere and people were working, doing the garden, mowing lawns and washing cars. I was like: ‘What is this place?’ The bus driver, who was a member of staff, said this is a therapeutic community where we learn to work together and build friendships and relationships. I turned round and said: ‘I don’t work, I’m a drug dealer. I pay people to work’.
I was insane, I was just crazy. When I got off that bus and I thought I was someone special. I didn’t want to be there but I knew if I left or got kicked out I was looking at prison. The thought of prison didn’t scare me, about 70% of my mates were in there anyway. The fact was that prison was going to be a lot longer than 6 weeks and it was going to be a lot harder for me to make money. So I did the 6 weeks and everyone I was in with, about 15 others, identified as both an addict and an alcoholic. I refused to and just identified as an addict. For 7 years straight I had a $2,000 dollar a day Ice habit.
Drinking with the Handbrake on
I knew I had a problem with drugs but I had never had that realisation with alcohol. The rehab I was in was closed over Christmas for 6 weeks so we all left. I thought: ‘I won’t take drugs but I’ll drink and things will be good’. Over the next 6 weeks I went to meetings because I had nowhere else to go.
And I drank with the handbrake on. I would have a few and then go home, just to prove to people that I could but deep down I knew this is no good and I always wanted to drink more. Just before the 6 weeks of holiday was up the rehab rang me and said: ‘Do you think you should come back?’
I didn’t have a stable house, I didn’t have anywhere to live really so I thought: ‘There is a bed, a shower and food so why not?’ I went back and did another 6 weeks. While I was in there some stuff came up about my childhood. I was sexually abused as a kid and I had never told anyone. I ended up doing four rehabs from 2012-2015 but always used and it always got worse.
Eventually my partner said she was done and that was really the wakeup call I needed. I needed to do it for myself. I had judges, parents and partners tell me to stop but it never made any difference. I grabbed my phone and I rang a friend in Bali who was in recovery and I told him I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Every time I had been to rehab in Victoria, I left with someone and I used…… I ran through the house and robbed them. I needed to get out of Australia. I needed to do something completely different. I had no money but I had a brand new car and a boat that was my pride and joy so I sold them and a couple of days later I got on a plane and came to Bali to do the program at Seasons.
Swaggering into Seasons
I walked in that rehab with a slick haircut, Christian Dior sunnies, a $5,000 gold chain, a $4,000 gold bracelet and a $3,000 diamond watch thinking I was some gangster. I was a 50 kg Arnold Schwarzenegger. I really thought: ‘What are they going to teach me that I don’t already know?’ But I was willing to give it a go. I literally walked out of that rehab 28 days later stripped to bare nothing no jewellery, no slick haircut, and no watch……just me for the first time ever.
When I got to Seasons, the staff were not judgemental. The other rehab’s I had been to the staff would talk about the clients, not in a good way and my room was right by the office and I could hear them. I found out that two of the staff still drank and I felt like they were there for a pay check not to help out the addict and the alcoholic that was still suffering. This was not the case at Seasons – the staff walked the walk.
When I got to Seasons the staff made us feel like we were all equal, we were no better no worse than them. We were all the same. There were meetings every day and that was what I needed. When I got there I got honest, I cut the bullshit. Before that I would say 40% of the truth and 60% of my own version. This time I just cut it. Everyone was so nice and so helpful and that was what I wanted. I wanted to come off my medication and so they weaned me off it, I wanted to do things differently and the staff would guide me, not tell me.
Tim the Seasons Therapist
Those one on one sessions with Tim were the best. It was not like I was with a counsellor, it was like I was sitting there with a best mate just talking, he understood. I felt able to be honest in that environment. I felt comfortable and they (the staff) showed me love. They really cared for every client that walked through the door while I was there. They treated everyone equally, nobody was treated differently. For once in my life I felt a part of. A lot of time in life I felt a part of but it was criminal activity, it wasn’t real. I hadn’t had that sort of loving honesty since I was a child. I was only friends with people before that because I had something they wanted or they had something I wanted.
My best mate of 26 years was really just my associate, even though we had grown up together and we had known everything about each other. That friendship dwindled away and it became a business thing. That’s what hurt the most, when I got out of rehab I realised that in the last 7 years we had just become business associates. There was no integrity
When I left Seasons, the staff kept in contact and other rehab’s I had been to, did not do that. You checked out and ticked the box and that was it.
Released From Rehab
I got out and got home and 6 months into that I was sitting at home. I hadn’t worked for 4 years because of my accident and I was adamant that I couldn’t do anything else except be a concreter or a drug dealer. I was sitting at home doing nothing fishing every day to take my mind off things I knew I had to do something.
The Working Man
I enrolled in a course doing hospitality and I was doing placement hours in a pub. By this time I was 9 months clean and sober. They asked me where I wanted to work and I said a pub or a nightclub. I had to do 180 hours unpaid work. That was crazy…I never had done something for nothing! I hated it. But I applied the effort that I had put into dealing and using into work and within 2 weeks I was offered a job and they started paying me. I got honest with my boss about some of my history and said that if I thought I was going to drink and use, I was out, I was done.
Now I am the manager of that night club and I still don’t drink and use. I have opportunities today, I have a life and I carry the message of hope working in that pub because so many people from the meetings where I live walk in and out of that place and they see me and think that I am doing the same thing until they ask me and I tell them I don’t. A few days later, more often than not I see them back in a meeting. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world I can carry the message.
I still have that deal with myself today that any minute I think I am going to drink or use I will stop working in the club. I will leave. What I have today I don’t want to lose. My daughter is 6 now and when she was 3 I bought her a single barrel shotgun and spray painted it pink because I thought that was cool. I thought it was tough. She is 6 almost 7 and her favourite toy is a Barbie. She knows I used to get angry and violent, not towards her but towards other people in my house and she used to get really scared. I just have to raise my voice and she gets scared….but it’s getting better.
The Buzz of Normal Things
I take her to school and other parents speak to me…that was like….Wow! I moved into a house in a little court and the neighbours stayed there. I used to move into a house and the neighbours three doors away would move out. I had so much tough bravado. When I moved in the hardest thing for me was trying to have a conversation with a normal person about normal things. I remember one day I went out and my neighbours asked me over for a coffee. I had been out of Seasons 2 or 3 months and I went over and they started talking about work and how their day was. I had no idea how to have a conversation. Before recovery it was all about how many drugs I sold and how many people I had ripped off. I had no idea what to say.
Today I go and sit with those people, his wife is sick with cancer and I go over and sit with them 2 to 3 times a week for a coffee, I take them out to dinner and I live in a court of 12 houses and every single person speaks to me. We go round to each other’s houses at Christmas. It’s insane – I love it.
I can do anything I want in this world as long as I don’t drink and use. I started studying about a month ago. I want to help children, youth and teens and the thing was I had to withdraw from the course because of my criminal convictions. It will be 3 to 5 years before I can apply again, but I can accept it. The old me would not. I would have gone…fuck you all, I’m gonna drink…..poor me. There are other avenues.
I have started my own business as a motivational speaker. I started it up because when I did my hospitality course I became very good friends with my teacher. And I told my story and she said: ‘How do you feel about doing talks for the kids who come here who don’t want to work and sit at home and take drugs and think there is no hope?’ So I started doing that…..
2 Year Gratitude
Today I have a clear mind and clear thoughts, I have friends that are legitimately friends, my family love me and I love them. I enjoy peace and quiet. I have feelings and emotions that I never knew existed. Every day is a blessing where I learn new things about myself and I have interests in things I never thought I would like.
It is amazing what recovery has given me. Today I am grateful just to be alive.
If it’s time to change your spots, give one of our experts at Seasons Bali a call today for a free consultation and to find out how we can help.