“You know what they say about excuses? Everybody has one.” says Harold, a resident at Quintin Warner House. Wise words. With a shaved head, tattoos and a stocky build, Harold would be perfectly cast in the role of hardened drug addict. His story however, is far from that.
Growing up in a prominent Toronto family, Harold wanted for nothing. He traveled often, had the clothes, the car, the money and the prestige. “I had a good life up until 15 years ago,” he says. Although Harold’s situation seemed idyllic from the outside, he was masking a lot of pain. “I was the guy with so much hurt, guilt and shame,” he explains. “I had a knot buried deep inside me and I didn’t know to deal with it.” As a young boy and even as a teenager, Harold could easily bury all those feelings and continue to lead his privileged Toronto life. But, as he got older, the everyday stresses that come with manhood began to take their toll. “The pain just took over.” he says. Harold soon found himself with a wife and a young baby to provide for. It became harder and harder to bury this lifetime of hurt. When he was no longer able to bury his feelings, he turned to drugs.
At 25 years old, Harold began buying Percocet on the street. Percs as they’re called are a mixture of acetaminophen and oxycodone which are prescribed by doctors to relieve severe physical pain. Like many users, Harold found it easy to buy percs on the street so it wasn’t long before this was a regular weekend habit. “Soon, the pills weren’t enough,” he recalls. “I started doing cocaine but I kept telling myself it was just a fun thing to do on the weekend. It’s really easy to justify what you’re doing and keep lying to yourself,” he says.
Harold’s life soon began spiraling out of control. He tried rehab but it didn’t stick. The death of his beloved uncle as well as infidelity within his marriage continued to plague his attempts at recovery. “At my uncle’s funeral, my son didn’t want to talk to me,” Harold remembers. “He said: Go get help and when you get help, call me.” Harold leans back and lays his forearms on his chair. One can’t help but notice the solitary words, in bold black ink, permanently etched into his skin: Willingness on the left arm, Acceptance on the right. He closes his eyes for a moment and recalls the conversation two years ago with his son. “That was the best thing that could have happened,” he remembers. Harold began treatment programs in Toronto which led him to Quintin Warner House. “This place has helped me open my eyes to things I never wanted to see before,” he says. “They help you take a good hard look at all that pain.” Harold graduated on September 14th, and will continue his recovery within the Aftercare Program. He has been working on getting his high school diploma and has goals of becoming a social worker, helping kids stay on the right path. “Nobody stands up at the front of the class and says: I want to be a drug addict,” he says. “If I can help those who are suffering work through their feelings instead of turning to drugs, that would be the best thing I could do.”
Harold maintains regular contact with his son and is learning how to communicate with family members in a positive way. “I have a great loving relationship with my son now,” he says. A smile spreads across Harold’s face as he speaks of the second chance he’s been given to be a father to his son. “Everyone is on this path for different reasons,” he says. “I’m living my own choices now, and they are the best choices of my life.”
For more information on Quintin Warner House click HERE or call: 519 434 8041