STEVE* and his father were "the best of mates".
When his beloved dad died three years ago, he gave his son a wealthy inheritance to help him and his young family.
Steve will never forgive himself for what he did next.
A drug addict for almost 25 years, he blew the lot - more than $50,000 - on ice.
"My dad was everything to me," Steve says.
"How am I ever meant to deal with what I did ... I can't."
Now clean of the drug for almost six months, Steve remains at a healing centre in regional Victoria where he is trying desperately to control his drinking.
"I'm off the drugs and I'll never go back ... but I drink that much because I can't deal with what ice did to my life," he says.
"I hate myself for what I did with dad's money. I hate myself for what I did to my family, my kids ... I hate myself so much."
"I hate to say it, but most of the time I was on a building site I was off my head"
Steve had been a drug user since the tender age of 14, when he was quickly swallowed up in the rave party scene.
At that time he was using drugs like ecstasy, speed and cocaine, or as he puts it, "anything".
It was at 16 that he began injecting speed, or methamphetamine, a drug similar to ice, but not as strong.
A qualified builder and chef, Steve has managed for most of his life to hold down a job and support his family.
That was until a few years ago.
"It may all start out as fun and games ... but you watch, it (ice) will ruin your life," he says.
"It destroyed mine."
It was a cruel encounter in 2007 which introduced Steve to his first taste of ice.
Emerging clean of drugs after three months in rehabilitation, the father-of-two was handed a small bag of white crystals from another man undergoing rehab.
In that bag was about $100 worth of ice.
"And then it hit the fan ... looking back that's the moment when my already drug-fuelled life went to a whole new nasty level," he says.
"It was just nuts, my life was quickly ruined. I was starting to slowly go insane, everything just went haywire and I was pretty much using it (ice) to feel better in myself."
After injecting the drug, Steve said it was normal to go seven days without sleep or food ... the whole time using.
"I hate to say it, but most of the time I was on a building site I was off my head," he says.
He said ice really hit Ballarat streets in 2011.
"Speed had been easy as pie to get, but then all of a sudden it was gone and there was only ice," he says.
"Just like that, it was everywhere. It's easier to make, it's cheaper to make ... I've watched people cook it in front of me."
Now at a healthy weight of 90kg, Steve plummeted to less than 50kg when his addiction was at its worst.
Admitting he was "so lucky" to have not "fried" his brain, Steve said his mental state still took some hits while he was using.
"There were some days where I was going that nuts that I'd literally be pulling my hair out," he said.
"It's easier to make, it's cheaper to make ... I've watched people cook it in front of me"
"I honestly can't believe I still have my brain.
"I know a bloke in Melbourne and a cat came to his window ... he thought the police had sent that cat to spy on him, so he packed up all his stuff and left ... that's what most ice users are like."
Entering rehab for the second time in February this year, Steve said it was the first time since the age of 14 that he wanted to rid his life of drugs.
"It was just time, mate," he says.
"This was the first time I had wanted it, in the past it was other people forcing me to do it."
Now clean from drugs for the first time in 23 years, Steve is working towards getting his life back on track.
His mother, a nurse, has been his greatest strength and he said without her he would not be clean.
He aims get his drinking under control, allowing him to see his kids again.
"I don't want them to ever see or experience what I have," he said.
"No one needs to go through this crap."
*Steve is not his real name.
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