Salvos worker: My former life as drug runner
Ex-addict and drugs courier Mitchell Stamper knows what the clients he sees as a Salvation Army support worker go through - he's been there himself.
The 35-year-old Gold Coaster spent five years as a drug runner - or "gopher" as he calls it - to fund his $350-a-day ice and marijuana use.
He ferried marijuana between the Gold Coast and Brisbane earning $5500 a week but says it was dangerous work and far from any glamorous depiction in movies.
He has overdosed and ended up in hospital, been busted by police partying in Surfers Paradise with large amounts of illicit drugs on him and at one point frittered away a $50,000 inheritance in three months on his habit.
It was his "rock bottom" and prompted a Salvation Army Gold Coast Recovery Services check in which he credits with saving his life.
He has worked as a Salvation Army support worker for addicts since April 2017 and told his story to a packed Red Shield Appeal launch breakfast at Crowne Plaza in Surfers yesterday.
He traced his spiral into addiction back to the death of his father from brain cancer when he was five and feeling a release when he first tried cannabis at 13.
He quit school by Year 11 and eventually started running "large amounts" of drugs and mixing with "not so nice people".
"My drug use just kept going up and the only way to pay for an addiction is do something illegal. I was willing to take the risk."
He quit after a friend got busted for trafficking: "It was only a matter of time until they got me.
It was difficult to extract himself, he said: "You can't just put in your notice, say 'I'm done, thanks for the money'. It wasn't easy."
Soon after, a grandmother left him $50,000 but he spent the lot within months.
"As quickly as it saved me, it was killing me inside because I would look at the bank account just falling until there was nothing."
Mr Stamper said without Salvation Army intervention involving 10 days of detoxing, 10 months in a bridging program and developing a faith in God, "I would have overdosed or found a way to kill myself - I couldn't keep doing what I was doing."
"Running on my own brought me to my knees and emotionally and spiritually left me bankrupt. I decided to let go and let God in. I was able to work on my self-esteem and deal with the loss of my father.
"God bless the Salvos."
More than $400,000 was raised at yesterday's Gold Coast Red Shield appeal launch. It continues with a door knock from May 21 to June 2.