Chris Cull’s Story – From Loss to Lost… a young man’s journey to recovery
My name is Chris; I'm 29 years old from a small town called Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
I want to share my experience with addiction in hopes that it will assist those who may be at the point I was, and their loved ones.
How did I get into the "hole" of prescription drug abuse? It all started with fear.
Huntington's disease, which is a neuro-degenerative disease, destroyed my grandmother's life. When my father was diagnosed with it, I was just a teenager still living at home, he turned to alcohol to ease his pain and his fear of what the disease would do to him. As Huntington's disease is hereditary, I have a 50% chance of being diagnosed with it one day. After watching my grandmother break down, I always remember hearing my father say that he would never let himself get to that state my grandmother did if he was ever diagnosed.
My father, who was a career paramedic, who always did his best to help others, turned into an alcoholic after he was no longer able to work or drive. As the disease and alcohol consumption progressed, it was just he and I living together, and I observed the prescription medication he was taking turn into a daily cocktail that I knew was necessary, but didn’t understand at the time the chemical imbalance that alcohol and the medications combined would create.
As a result, I watched my hero slowly give up on his life; I also gave up on mine. To make a long and painful story short, one day I was going out to brunch with my girlfriend at the time and her family when before I was leaving my dad came to the door and hugged me and told me that he loved me so much.
I knew at some point soon he was likely going to pass away, so I got into an everyday habit of telling him I loved him. His overly affectionate goodbye that day didn’t seem out of place to me, it didn’t dawn on me until later.
But then, on March 5/2007, after 2 days of searching for my missing dad, I found out that he had taken his own life in a Motel near our house. My self-esteem was pretty shot as it was, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
The week leading up to the funeral I self-medicated with alcohol and pity from others - it’s easy to fuel the fire by feeling sorry for yourself. But that week, on top of the loss, I had some family members asking for money and others insinuating that my show of emotion was an act in an attention getting act - which couldn’t have been further from the truth as I am a sensitive person by nature.
So at the age of 22, faced with the loss of my dad, a lack of guidance, family turmoil and filled with self-pity, I felt I needed to numb myself to move forward with my life.
I started by using a couple Percocets, which seemed to calm me down, which I hid from my girlfriend at the time, who I loved dearly. As the process escalated into roughly 5 x 80mg Oxycontin a day, my deception grew exponentially to telling outlandish lies. I began to manipulate and take advantage of people's trust until the lies came crumbling down.
Not only did I not move an inch forward in getting over the loss of my father, my own pain and mistakes led to the loss of the only person I genuinely felt cared for me at the time, my girlfriend. It was another devastating blow. That was when I bottomed out, my family and friends were ashamed of me to a degree I’ve never seen.
I lost the girl I thought I wanted to marry, I had lost my father who always had my best interests at heart and I lost a lot of money, roughly six figures in cash. That’s when I thought to myself, if my dad saw me now, he would be so disappointed.
Rock bottom can be the best place to build a new foundation.
I decided something needed to change if I ever wanted any sort of respect, good health and the loyalty of those who never gave up on me. I owed it to my father and those who truly never gave up on me to climb out of the hole.
So I joined the methadone program. Going through that process took me 5 years because I knew myself well enough to know that if I rushed off it, it would result in substituting my addiction habits to something else just as detrimental. My doctor who is a wonderful woman was very stern but very fair. She helped me realize that personal accountability is one of the key factors in moving forward. After climbing out of the hole I had created, it gave me a sense of unshakable self confidence knowing I completed such a difficult task of coming clean from an opiate addiction.
About 5 months ago, I came up with an idea to help addicts and their families.
I will be riding a bike 7500km from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast, filming a documentary and internet reality show about prescription drug abuse and how it has affected Canada. I want to show people that not only is the grass greener on the other side, but you can still live your dreams as you watch me live mine.
If you're reading this and feel I could help in some way through my personal experience with advice or would like to know more about my project please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Just remember, if you or your loved one is suffering through addiction, your life is not over. Just because mistakes were made, it doesn’t define you or them as a person.
Never Give Up! Never Quit!
As it happened in my experience, once the individual's head is clear, they will value your loyalty. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if there is any way I can assist, don’t hesitate to email me.
Chris has recently completed his second cross country cycling journey in the summer of 2016 in the hopes of raising awareness about prescription drug misuse in Canada.