Confessions of an ice dealer with a $1000 a day habit
PATRICK Smith came from a good family, had a stable upbringing and never had a problem getting a good job.
But when a friend in North Queensland introduced him to cannabis at about the age of 19, it was the start of a long-term relationship with illicit drugs.
For 22 years he didn't spend more than three days in a row straight.
He clung to something his father told him when he started smoking cannabis; that "everyone needs a vice".
"My old man was a fire chief and I grew up in a fire station. He was a local hero in my home town, president of Rotary, and for him to condone it to me was the worst thing he could have done," he said.
"He didn't really know what he was saying at the time anyway."
After experimenting with drugs over the years he started taking crystal methamphetamine, or 'ice', as a way to balance out the depressant effects of his heavy marijuana habit.
Having already established himself as a marijuana dealer, the more his addiction to ice took hold the more expensive it became.
Mr Smith started dealing crystal methamphetamine and became "one of the heaviest dealers the region has seen". While he was doing it, was never caught.
At one point he turned over more than $200,000 in one year.
To put it into context, he said the street value of one gram was about $1000.
"I blew myself away with just how bad I was at selling it," he said.
"I'd be able buy to buy a gram for $400 and sell what I had to and then keep the rest. But I'd always fall behind because I needed more and more. Every time something happened it came down to a family breakdown."
At the height of his addiction he was injecting $1000 worth of ice a day.
"Not many people could handle what I was doing every day," he said.
"I would be off my face and not even know it. I've seen people fry themselves smoking in three months."
And while he said he could fall asleep on it most nights, he once slept just eight hours in 17 days and in that time drove to Sydney and back.
"Two of those hours of sleep was on the way home because I was starting to swerve all over the road," he said.
Mr Smith said the last three years he injected drugs almost every day, and the reality of being a dealer was a far cry from the way it was glamourised on Underbelly.
"A lot of people think dealers are making all this money; I've got nothing," he said.
"I don't have a registered car - not a cent to my name - my teeth are ruined, I'm wearing s**t clothes. At the end of the day it wasn't a business, I was trying to sustain a habit."
But it was the violence, which he said goes hand-in-hand with drug taking, that was the final straw and the thing that sparked his decision five months ago to get clean.
"In the first twenty years of my life I was only in two fights; in the last 20 years I was in about 100," he said.
"I was dealing with a lot of young fellas who were just frying themselves and losing the plot.
"I used to sell stuff and nearly cry. I'd say to them don't get on it, it'll ruin your life."