I don’t use illicit drugs. I’m 61. Age doesn’t stop a lot of people in Bellingen, Northern Rivers, New South Wales Australia, where I live, from using illicit drugs, even heroin. Most who’ve used heroin for a long time are long dead.

No matter what I write, what I’m writing wont stop people using illicit drugs.

But here goes…

In 2010, I observed someone very close to me with very serious drug psychosis through the the window in a padded cell in the lock-up section for drug addicts and the mentally ill called ‘Kiloh’, the psychiatric ward at Prince Alfred Hospital in Randwick, Sydney. This person had been using multiple drugs in a serious drug binge lasting four months. They were mainly using very strong laced hydroponic marijuana. This type of marijuana, grown by bikies and other criminals in houses converted to drug labs, caves and the Australian bush, is at least thirty times stronger than the bush-grown marijuana we used to smoke in the 1970s back in New Zealand. Then it is laced with amphetamines or whatever these criminals have available.

I first observed someone using heroin in 1972 when I was 16. A friend has been doing a carpentry course in Huntley, near Auckland, New Zealand. He made friends with some teenagers aged about 16 from Auckland. I visited him at one of his friend’s houses in Remuera, Auckland, one of Auckland’s most affluent suburbs. In a large bedroom on the basement level a young man was in bed resting. He got up sleepily, and injected himself with heroin, and lay back on the bed and fazed out, very high.

I was always scared of heroin and strong drugs. Many of my Auckland friends when the family moved there in 1974, used LSD. I never used it. I smoked a lot of weed (marijuana) from the age of 15 to 19, when I became a Christian. I was always Christian in a way, but I did the 70s counter-culture teen rebellion thing.

One of the home group leaders under my leadership at Christian Life Centre Darlinghurst, Sydney, the early name of Hillsong, in the 1980s, Michael Driscoll, suicided in the 1990s in Ireland. Michael went back on heroin, which he was on with his friend, the famous Australian painter Brett Whitely, and many other artists and their friends in Sydney in the 1970s, prior to Michael becoming a Christian. Jonathan Page and others helped Michael find Christ. Then in the 1990s he lost his way, moved to Ireland, went back on heroin, and suicided. I attended Michael’s funeral in Neutral Bay in the 1990s.

Michael Driscoll with Brett Whiteley

A sketch of Michael Driscoll by Brett Whiteley for a gig, before Michael was a Christian.

Brett Whiteley, a prodigiously talented artist, died from a heroin overdose in a Sydney motel in 1992.

The famous New York Musician Lou Reed was a self-confessed drug addict all his life. Lou said he couldn’t live without illicit drugs. Lou’s drug of choice was heroin.

Reed, a heroin addict for most of his life, is pictured in 1965 with (from left) Maureen Tucker, Sterling Morrison, Reed, and John Cale

Reed was already heavily into drugs in his college days, mainly heroin and amphetamines, and selling them to fellow students