A FORMER architectural designer lost everything after blowing £500,000 during a 15-year drug addiction.
Hartlepool-based Chris Fish seemed to have the perfect life, working for Stockton Borough Council and owning a freelance architectural firm.
He drove high-powered cars, owned properties, went on Caribbean holidays and had a doting partner and two sons.
But he lost it all after his addiction spiralled out of control – with Chris blowing around half a million pounds on drugs, sometimes spending £1,000 daily on his habit.
He had got himself into debt to pay for his addiction, through loans secured on properties and cars.
But he lost them when he couldn’t pay back the huge debts.
Things got so bad that Chris made a number of suicide attempts including diving out of a car window at over 70mph.
Eventually his family turned their backs on him.
Chris, who suffered temporary blindness, seizures and black-outs while on drugs, said: “Although I was well-educated, went to university, got a job and set a business up, I was snorting cocaine recreationally to cover up a broken man.
“I was incomplete.”
The 34-year-old was 16 when he began experimenting with cocaine, leading to harder drugs – crack cocaine, heroin and methadone.
He took prescribed drugs which only created another addiction.
Chris also drank daily to “fill a void” in his life, but without success.
It began as something he did on a night out.
But he was always looking for a bigger high and progressed onto harder drugs after about a year on cocaine.
He said: “I was going out nightclubbing and doing cocaine, but there came a point where the cocaine didn’t work as much and I went onto the crack cocaine.
“As I got onto the harder stuff, I looked a terrible state and my old associates who I took cocaine with wouldn’t associate with me and called me a ‘dirty smackhead’.
“As my addiction got worse, I did drugs on my own, in dirty squats.”
Chris, who thinks he fell more into drugs than his friends because of an “addictive nature”, said drugs tore his family apart.
“I was an appalling father,” he said.
“Although I never stopped loving them, I wasn’t in the right state of mind when I was with them.
“I wasn’t using drugs while with them, but a lot of the time I was coming down off the drugs when I saw my sons.”
He admits he was violent to his partner, who found someone else.
But, there came a turning point after his family walked out on him.
Chris, who admits stealing and using benefit money to pay for drugs, changed his ways to try to get his family back.
He tried numerous support methods and was even admitted to a secure mental hospital to help his journey back to health.
In March last year came the breakthrough.
He “came to Christ” after spending six months at Betel, a Christian rehabilitation centre in Northumberland.
This “restoration” enabled the root problems that brought him to addiction to be identified and addressed.
He turned to Betel as “I didn’t care if I lived or died – I had nothing to lose”.
He left the project eight months ago, came to Hartlepool and linked up with the Elim Living Waters Church which helps people with similar problems get their lives back on track.
Chris, who lives above the church in Whitby Street, is now seeing real results with the addicts he works with.