Paul grew up in a small town, “It was small town life, not much to do,” he muses. His foray into experimenting with drugs and alcohol began at a rather young age. In grade seven, he and his friends were attending school dances drunk. While he had started smoking weed as well, at this point he was just smoking with his mom.
In spite of Paul and his mom getting high together, their relationship was a rocky one, and she kicked him out at 15 years old.
“I just had to try to make my own way,” reflects Paul.
Paul’s partying continued, but he was able to stay in school until the end of grade eleven. He spent a lot of time crashing at friends’ houses, couch-surfing; and in nicer weather, Paul and his friends would camp out in the bush over weekends and party; his friends became his family.
During grade eleven, Paul entered into his first relationship. Drugs, alcohol, and partying defined a lot of their time together. They were partners for ten years, and had two daughters. Once children came, Paul’s girlfriend was able to discontinue using drugs with no lingering addictions.
Paul was not so lucky.
Paul had been selling weed since high school for some extra cash, but his forays into selling drugs to pay for rent, and for his habits, escalated. “I went from selling joints, to ounces, to having a grow room, to cocaine, to spending my 28th birthday in jail,” he summarizes.
Since he was living with his girlfriend and his two young daughters at the time of his conviction, Family and Children’s Services (FCS) stepped in and Paul entered into a recovery program for the first time.
The program was a 28-day outpatient program that ran from 8am-3pm. This program gave Paul some insights that helped him move forward for a little while, but soon, the benefit started to slip away like a worn bandage on an almost-healed wound.
Paul was also spending weekends in jail for the drug-related charges. During his time there, he was served papers. His 10-year relationship was ending – and Paul lost custody of his children. It was at a time of upheaval and stress. While he stopped using party drugs, he was far from being clean and sober.
Paul began to abuse pain killers, namely Oxycontin after receiving a prescription following workplace falls from rooftops.
“I didn’t know my father, my mom kicked me out at 15, a ten year relationship ended with cheating – I felt like a victim. And it kept me sick for a while,” Paul describes.
Before entering into Quintin Warner House’s program, Paul overdosed four separate times.
“I was lucky to be around people at those times, since I usually used alone,” he reflects. The people around him were able to get him the help he needed so he would not “go under” for good.
Paul reconnected with a counsellor who recommended Quintin Warner House (Mission Services of London’s addiction treatment branch) as an ideal option.
“Everything needed to happen in this order to get where I’m at today. This round, I finally learned what it took to be sober. I did the opposite to what I did before,” Paul explains; he was ready to challenge and confront his fears. He no longer wanted to run or numb himself into oblivion.
“The Quintin Warner House staff greets you with compassion. And with group activities like rec day, the gym – it has been good to spend time with the guys outside of the house, doing something normal.” With a peaceful smile Paul elaborates, “At Quintin Warner House I had good shelter, I was fed good food– they did everything so I could do the work.”
“I only get what I put in. Now I’m learning to co-parent,” Paul shares. “I want to be there now; I don’t want to be like my father. I feel prepared now with what I’ve learned at Quintin Warner House. I know I’m responsible for how I react and I feel more prepared to handle emotional situations. I’ve really changed my perspective; instead of seeing myself as a victim, I know I’m responsible for how I conduct myself. I’m turning 39 and I’m just starting to grow up.”
Paul is incredibly thankful for the help and skills Quintin Warner House provided and instilled in him. Paul is busy building a solid foundation, and staying connected to others, before returning to the working world.
“I can’t do it by myself, the community aspect is important. I’m working on making connections and not being shy about what I need.”
Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel, Communications & PR Coordinator