Former Bears and Rabbitohs player Chris Caruana has revealed just how bad his post-career struggles were – and how he’s on the road to recovery.
Caruana was a mainstay either in the centres or off the bench for North Sydney sides of the mid-1990s, before moving to Souths in 1998.
He played two seasons in red and green before the club was excluded from the NRL in 2000, but returned to Souths when they were re-instated in 2002 before hanging up the boots at the end of that season.
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But post-career struggles with ice addiction and homelessness saw him attempt to take his own life on two occasions, he has revealed. Only recently has he started to turn his life around.
“I’ve been in some dark places in the last four years,” he said on Nine’s Today.
“But I just want to help the people out that need a bit of hope in their life – and I think I can give that to them.”
Like plenty of athletes, he struggled with life after sports – and like plenty of people in all walks of life, he turned to drugs to fill that hole.
”I dealt with it with narcotics,” he said bluntly.
“That was the biggest mistake I did. It all came crashing down, I felt a very, very deep space of depression and anxiety – I lost a lot of money through narcotics, and it was a terrible 10 years of my life. I wish I could take that back but it’s gone now.”
Caruana said he’s been clean for 33 months, and has some ‘great’ people in his life now; specifically his mother, sister and children.
“I’m continuing to do the good stuff that has to be done,” he said.
The 51-year-old also outlined just how bad his ice addiction was.
“It’s a very, very, very nasty drug – it took away a part of my soul, which I’ve got back. The longest I was awake for was probably 12 days. The longest I didn’t eat was probably 14 days,” he said.
“I lost 24 kilos in 12 months. It’s an insidious drug. I can’t explain how it really effects young kids out there today,” he said as he fought back tears while talking about his own son and daughter.
“That’s where methamphetamine got me – to the grips of ending it. It’s publicly out there that I did that, but I won’t be doing that again. I want to hang in there for my children and my family.”
Now, he’s hoping to complete a Certificate IV in mental health, which will enable him to help those going through the same things that he did.
If you or someone you know needs immediate or mental health-related support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via lifeline.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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