Red Shield Appeal: Perth man talks about additction downfall and turning his life around with Salvation Army’s help


Matthew Thomas has warned against drug use.
Picture: Andrew Ritchie|www.communitypix.com.au   d482456
Matthew Thomas has warned against drug use. Picture: Andrew Ritchie|www.communitypix.com.au d482456

MATTHEW Thomas (42) went from having a secure job, wearing expensive clothes and hanging out at trendy bars to sleeping in a park in a city he had never been to.

His downfall was an addiction to cocaine.

Now ‘clean’ and seeking help through the Salvation Army, Mr Thomas’ warning to people who are offered the drug for the first time is short and simple: “don’t do it”.

His message comes as the organisation launches its Red Shield Appeal on May 9, which aims to raise money for the homeless.

“I’m from Queensland; my job was in casino management and a high roller offered me some (cocaine),” he said.

“I was 37 when I first tried it and (eventually) I was using it daily.”

Mr Thomas said he was able to hide his addiction from his boss but eventually decided to kick the habit.

“I got clean, I went to Narcotics Anonymous after using cocaine for two years, then I went on a dream holiday in Asia and lost the plot in Cambodia,” he said.

“It was just so easy to get it and cheap.”

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He said his addiction led him to missing his flight home and lying to his loved ones.

“I didn’t get on the plane to come home so my family and friends would send money for the plane ticket, but I didn’t buy a ticket, I paid for more nights in my hotel and more gear,” he said.

“I was lying and saying someone stole my laptop and phone and I couldn’t get to the flight because the police said I had to go to court.

“In the end, I lost a lot of my family and friends and the Embassy flew me to Perth in October, which was the cheapest ticket, so I’ve landed here with no family or friends and I’d never been to Perth before.

“I had to beg the bus driver for a free ticket into the city from the airport; I had nothing.”

Mr Thomas said his lowest point was sleeping in a Perth park.

“All I knew was just to get near a street light, and it rained the first night too,” he said.

Mr Thomas urged people to avoid drugs.

“I lost everything; don’t do it. I used to wear $300 dress shirts and I ended up sleeping in a park,” he said.

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