At the Portage Ontario Fresh Start event this fall, Daniel bravely stood in front of two hundred strangers to tell them about the traumas of his past that lead to his drug problems and criminal convictions. He explained how, while in treatment at Portage, he learned to better understand himself, so that he could work on healing the deep wounds that he had been carrying for years.
Here is his inspiring testimonial:
Good evening everybody!
I am here to share my life story with you.
My story isn’t the most pleasant of stories but it is what it is, and I have come to terms with that.
Well I guess the best way to start is to formally introduce myself.
My name is Daniel and I am a proud recovering addict of 2 years and 2 months!
Off the bat, I can tell you that I had a great childhood.
I was blessed with a family with 2 great parents and a younger brother who loved me — even though I didn’t always see the wrong I was doing or how good a life I had.
From a young age I struggled with following the rules and focusing on the task at hand.
I guess you could say I was a true born rebel.
I was a very active kid, into all kinds of sports at which I excelled.
Sports were my passion and I held that close to my heart.
Besides my passion for sports, I had a great love for my grandparents – Nan and Bill, who I visited weekly.
Bill was my step grandfather; I’ve always known him as my grandfather because I’ve never met my real grandfather. I looked up to him because he was a cop and even owned his own business fixing pools.
I spent most of my childhood with him and he was someone I learned many valuable lessons from.
The next thing I am about to tell you is something I’ve struggled with since the age of 8.
It’s something that I’ve only recently been able to talk about and the fact – I am standing here telling my story to a crowd of strangers is something I could only do as a result of Portage.
From the age of 8 to 12 I was sexually harassed by my grandfather, Bill.
I didn’t think I could turn to anyone so I ended up just bottling up my emotions and turned to drugs…like many drug addicts do.
By grade 7, I was smoking weed every day and skipping classes to get high.
My grades dropped, attendance dropped and I began getting suspended which led to being expelled from school.
My parents found me difficult to handle and they eventually put me into foster care. There I began to abuse Tylenol and Advil. But none of this was enough to numb the pain inside of me.
After two long months of being in foster care I returned home still using.
My parents knew I hadn’t changed so they called children’s aid and had me placed into a group home.
This is where I learned that there are a lot more interesting drugs out there than weed and Tylenol.
Here I became addicted to my drugs of choice which were Oxycontin and heroin.
There I was at the age of 14 using the most deadly and addictive drugs out there.
My physical appearance had changed a lot; I was a total mess from all the drug abuse.
I began to need these drugs every minute of every day.
I was running away from the group home to chase my high and to get every single pill I could up my nose.
I was getting in trouble with the law every day for consuming, possession and trafficking. To put it in a simple way, I was 14 with 32 drug related charges and 8 counts of assault. I was sent to an open detention centre for minors.
At the detention centre I took steps to turn my life around, but on July 11th everything turned for the worse when my grandfather died from liver cancer while I was visiting him in the hospital.
There were many highs and lows over the next few months. I met my girlfriend when coming out of the detention centre, and she became the most important person in my life, completely understanding, guiding me through every obstacle that came my way.
We spent every day together, and became best friends, but it wasn’t long before I fell back into my addiction.
I relapsed back to my drug of choice, and I couldn’t tell Lisa that I had relapsed, I felt so low.
So, I continued to hide my addiction from the one person who cared the most.
By August of 2011, I was an active addict again, and what I’m about to tell to you still hurts to repeat.
I committed a very serious offense.
I was under the influence of heroin and oxys one night at a party where I became suicidal.
I lost control of myself. I overdosed and became physically aggressive towards Lisa.
I ended up being tazzard and taken to hospital.
On September 12th I ended up in jail with 1 count of assault on my girlfriend.
With all my other pending charges I spent 9 months in maximum security prison.
On April 16th of 2012 – I had my last court appearance where I decided to go to rehab.
What I didn’t know was that this place called Portage could change my life.
Coming into Portage, I was scared and nervous, but not because I was going to a new place, because I was anxious to begin my sober life.
Even though it was an entirely new home and a new city, I felt completely at home from the welcome that everyone at Portage gave me.
I learned so much about myself. They helped me understand who I actually am, and helped me heal all the deep wounds I had. It did take me a while to open up; but they were patient with me and listened even when I didn’t speak a word.
I learned that having a routine in life is crucial; even though it does suck getting up at six every morning. With every problem and every obstacle, I had open arms who could relate, ready to get me through it.
Another great thing about Portage is the schooling, I completed 7 credits in 5 and a half months and knowing myself I could not have done it without them.
I’ve never met such inspirational and motivational teachers who could help answer a problem on your paper or help you find answers to personal problems you may be having.
I really could go on and on about how well their program works for me and other recovering addicts, but one thing I could also go on about is the food.
Some people think that going into residence or shelters means there is going to be terrible food. At Portage it was just as good as your mother’s cooking, and what was nice was that we even called our chef “mom” which kept it personal and feeling like home.
We also learned responsibilities as we had chores to do in the household including the kitchen such as: Laundry Manager, Kitchen Manager, and Headcount Manager.
After leaving Portage, I put everything I learned at Portage into practice.
I got a job the week after I got out. I finished up my schooling and, most importantly went to meetings. Portage was always there when I needed them with just a phone call away.
The first 90 days I even attended meetings each night. I became everything I wanted to become. I also got back in touch with Lisa and together we had closure which has led us to a new start in life together.
Since then our lives have been inseparable while still being independent. My sobriety has been right there beside me enabling me to be happy while enjoying what life has to offer.
Today, I still remember the Portage philosophy and the part that stuck out the most for me:
“From here I will go forth, whole once more, self-knowing, confident and aware, never to live in the shadows again.”
It’s so inspirational to me; it gives me the strength I need on my worst days.
I can tell you that my life hasn’t been a long one, but I have learned so much. So I hope that standing here today can influence people to overcome their fears and struggles and know that they aren’t alone no matter what the situation.
Also, I could never in a million years have done this without Portage and I will recommend them for the rest of my life to all the addicts out there who are ready to start their life on the path to sobriety.
I want to thank you all for listening to my long speech
Hope everybody has a great night!