Have you ever met someone who has surprised you with their story? I’ve been told that my story is not what people expect when they met me, and I’d like to share it with you.

I was born here in Australia, but when I was 14 my father took me back to his native Italy. As a young bloke, the move disrupted me a lot. I missed my friends, and I didn’t really understand the language. I started road cycling to keep me busy.

I was actually pretty good, and at the age of 23 I turned professional and joined an Italian team. The sport is huge over there, and with lots of money thrown at us, we had everything we could want. 

For a while, it was a great life. The team had people who would look after everything. Training schedules, nutrition, bike repairs and development…everything. We were treated like rock stars.

Whatever we wanted, we got… even drugs.

I remember clearly the first time I was given cocaine. I was 26 and at a teammates wedding. I remember feeling tired… and then I wasn’t. Cocaine made me feel awake and larger than life.

It was 1998, and cycling started getting lot of bad press for drugs. You might remember it – there was a big steroid scandal at the Tour De France. The sport suffered because sponsorship dried up and I ended up not finding a ride the year after.

My cycling career was over. And I’m sad to tell you that I started using cocaine on a regular basis to help mask my disappointment and regret over not being able to do what I loved.

In 2004 I moved back to Australia with Mum, Dad and my brother.

2016 – business owner with a dark secret

We started up family restaurant. It went really well, and in 2010 I took it over. What the family didn’t know was that I had been using the drug, ice. Somehow, I managed to hide it and keep working hard. My business grew to include multiple restaurants and bars, so did my addiction. By the end of 2017 I had lost it all – including my home. I almost lost my life and spent six weeks in ICU.

Many addicts will tell you that they remember the time they used the first time – or when they started using again. All of the good intentions. All of the self-belief. All of the iron-will to not fall into addiction are tiny words that end up meaning nothing. The failure to stop leads to a self-hatred… and that in turn fuels the addiction.

And worst of all, nothing else matters.

Your family, your friends, the business you built from nothing are not as important as the next fix…

I knew I needed help but it still took me 9 months to finally surrender. A customer (who now is one of my closest friends) walked into my restaurant. A recovering addict himself, he told me about Transformations. A month later, I joined the program.

This is where you come in. Your support of Pathways gives someone like me the chance to transform.

Transformations is a long-term rehabilitation program using the therapeutic community model. This means that those who are participating in the program support each other through their journey of recovery.

The focus is on the whole person and overall lifestyle changes, not just abstinence from drug and alcohol use. That’s why it works. The residents use their own experience to help each other through the tough times.

It’s a powerfully transformative process and it changed my life.

Of course, I’m not going to tell you it was easy. But I knew it was the right path for me – maybe the only chance to save my life – and I worked hard. I used every bit of the determination that made me a successful cyclist and a successful business owner.

Now, three years later, I find myself in Hobart.

One of the Transformations pathways is to become a Resident Leader, and that’s what I am now. I help look out for the up to 12  men in our program – guiding and supporting them as they make their way through the program.

As you can imagine, it’s rewarding. I’ve come a long way, and it’s a privilege to be able to help others walk the same path. I’m healthier now than I was at my professional cyclist peak, and I would not be here today without Transformations.

The thing is, there’s a silent drugs epidemic in Hobart, and to meet the need, Pathways Tasmania needs to open more beds. Your donation today will help make sure we can do that, so someone like me has a chance to experience the grace of a second chance.

Transformations gave me my life back — and my future.

Remember, behind everyone is a story. And every story matters. If you know someone in your community that Velocity Transformations may be able to help, please reach out and tell them. There is support. There is help. There are pathways to a better life.