FIRST-TIME writer Mark Gavin has taken out a short story competition with his tale of surfing with his sons after recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) first held its short story competition in 2021.
This year it received about 12 entries by parents caring for children with substance abuse issues and people recovering from their own problems.
The theme was change, challenge and a brighter future in recovery.
Overall winner Mark Gavin said it was a last minute decision to enter the competition. "I'd never considered it," he said.
"I just wanted to reflect on the positives of recovery rather than telling war stories."
Mr Gavin referred to his excessive drug and alcohol use as "living my life like an episode of Jackass" - a comedic show where people do outlandish stunts.
"I would wear my excessive use of drugs and alcohol like a badge of pride, thinking I was some sort of champion," the story said.
"All the time I was failing to see what wreckage and absolute carnage I was leaving in my wake of self-destruction.
"My path to a premature death lay before me and I had my foot firmly on the accelerator."
Mr Gavin said it took him two hours in one sitting to write the piece.
"It was quite nice to sit down and remember that day of going surfing with my sons," he said.
The second and third prizes went to anonymous entries.
An award named after Australian children's author and Warrnambool resident Paul Jennings was won by Kayleearne Clyde.
Ms Clyde detailed her five-year addiction to methamphetamine and her three years in recovery.
"There are a lot of different ways that my story has been interpreted over the years," she said.
"Being able to talk about my own circumstances and how that went for me empowered me to take ownership over my own story."
She said it took "at least a few weeks" to jot down, piece together and edit her story. "It was an emotional process," Ms Clyde said.
In her story she said if you were thinking about starting your recovery journey, you had already taken the first step.
"Recovery is not something that happens overnight, it is a lifetime journey and something I will continue to work on. But it has been worth it," it said.
The winners shared a total prize money of $2500.
For drug and alcohol issues, call Directline 1800 888236, or WRAD on 5564 5777.
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