The Buttery’s b.well community outreach program runs programs across the NSW Northern Rivers for people with co-existing mental health and substance abuse issues. Paul attends a b.calm meeting regularly in Murwillumbah


“The accident should have killed me. I spent eight months in hospital. I have metal plates in my skull and face and metal in my left arm and leg. I suffered damage to my frontal lobe which has affected my memory and organisational skills.”

He said that upon discharge from hospital he was in intense pain, however doctors would not give him effective pain relief. Someone suggested he smoke cannabis and he found that it eased the pain.

Paul said that before the accident as an athlete he’d never taken drugs and didn’t even smoke cigarettes. Then his drug dealer introduced him to “snow cones”: a cannabis and heroin mixture. He said he was looking for anything to kill pain and as his brain damage removed inhibitions, he had no idea of what he was getting into. He quickly became addicted. He turned to crime to pay for heroin and ended up in prison.

“Living from substance to substance is not a life. It is hell and not something I signed up for.” As well as attending the b.well group regularly, Paul is now seeing a psychologist who teaches techniques to compensate for memory loss and poor organizational skills. He is riding bikes again and has even appeared in a television commercial and at events where his riding skills are on display.