He went down a path that almost killed him.
Where life became so distorted by alcohol and drugs, he didn't care about himself or anyone else.
So tormented was Jarrod Mullen after the controversial end to his rugby league career, he says now, looking back, he realises he didn't care if he lived or died.
Which makes the redemption story of the former Newcastle Knights captain so much more uplifting.
The love of family, the support of friends and his own determination to drag himself out of the darkest of dark places has seen him completely turn his life around.
Fatherhood, he says, has played a big part in it. Seeing the smile on the face of his daughter Stevie, who turned one early last month, as she runs to greet him when he gets home from his construction job on the Sunshine Coast is a moment he cherishes every day.
"People try to describe what love is but you don't know it until you have kids," he says. "It's the best thing I've ever done."
It's just over four years since Mullen's life began a disastrous downward spiral after he was banned from playing rugby league for testing positive to steroids.
Mullen details his dramatic fall from grace that culminated in him overdosing on prescription drugs and nearly dying on his parent's lounge and his subsequent arrest and sentencing in court on a cocaine charge in the latest edition of Toohey's News:The Podcast.
He also talks enthusiastically about his life now on the Sunshine Coast with partner Tamara Chessell and Stevie, his return to rugby league this season in the Queensland Cup competition with Melbourne Storm feeder club, Sunshine Coast Falcons, his dream of playing again to the NRL and his willingness in the future to pass on the tough lessons he has learned by counselling kids against the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse.
On his four-year ban and testing positive to a banned substance back in November, 2016, Mullen maintains he didn't know the injection he received for a chronic hamstring injury was a steroid.
"Hand on my heart, to this day, I'd be happy to take a lie detector test," he says. But he also understands, that at the end of the day, he was ultimately responsible for everything that went in his body.
He also knows he is responsible for the choices he made after the ban, when he was cut off from rugby league, the only thing he had known after debuting in the NRL as an 18-year-old while still at school.
He was also cut off from his teammates, who were told they could no longer associate with him.
He turned to alcohol and drugs to dull the pain of "losing my identity".
Mullen says one of the hardest things he had to do during his rehab and recovery was to give up drinking.
"I just had to put it in my mind that if I put my head on the pillow tonight and I haven't had a drink, that's a win for me," he said.
"It just gets easier and easier every day you don't do it."
Mullen says being a good father, partner and son are his priorities going forward.
He credits his mum and dad, Steve and Leeann, his greatest supporters during his playing career, with saving his life on the day he over-dosed and laments what he put them and his whole family through.
"Because I didn't care what I was doing to myself, I didn't realise the impact it had on them," he says.
"Obviously, I do now. They used to go to the footy all the time and when I wasn't playing, they stopped going so they lost a bit of themselves as well.
"They'd go to work and have to answer questions about what their son is doing and all that sort of stuff and they were the one's who had to find me turning grey and choking and all that.
"They had to load me into the ambulance so they've gone through a lot and I've put them through a lot.
"I'm striving every day to be a better person and a better son and I know they are proud of how far I've come - they are very proud - but they obviously went through a lot. Anyone with the Mullen name sort of went through it as well."
On his partner, Tamara Chessell, Mullen says: "She has been amazing and is a salt of the earth type of person.
"She's been through the ups and downs with me. I only met her through the back end of my using and she had the opportunity to walk away but she stuck by me because she knew the person beneath all that sort of stuff.
"She's been my rock."
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