EHN Canada


Finding Christopher: From Addiction To Redemption

Born in Campbell River BC, Christopher says he always obsessed over something. It started with baseball gloves, wheelbarrows, and cowboys. His earliest memories are good – family dinners, camping, and spending time with his siblings. When Christopher turned four his mom and stepdad split up, his brother went to foster care, and his sister moved in with her biological father. 

When Christopher was 13, his mom met Gordon. They got engaged and moved to Alberta to live on Gordon’s ranch. Christopher was happy, and for a while life was grand. It didn’t last though and when the relationship ended Christopher, and his mom moved on.

In his teens, Christopher started drinking and smoking marijuana. Baseball gloves, wheelbarrows, and cowboys, goodbye! Christopher found a new obsession. Getting high was the answer to all his problems. Christopher’s personality changed and he became violent and experienced mood swings. His mom was concerned and not knowing what else to do, sent him to live with his biological father.

To support his drug habit, Christopher began stealing. His home life was a disaster, he and his father fought often, and Christopher got expelled from school. He moved to his sister’s house hoping to start over, but drugs got in the way. One day Christopher stole his brother-in-law’s truck. His sister, tiring of the chaos, asked him to leave. Once again, Christopher was on the move.

Over the next few years, Christopher jumped around living with various relatives. A neighbour helped him find employment through a sheet metal union. However, Christopher did not get along with his coworkers and lost that job. He found another job with a construction company where someone introduced him to Dexedrine. Christopher was obsessed, he loved the way he felt on the stimulant and was sure he’d found the solution to all his life problems.

At 18 years of age, Christopher went to jail for a physical altercation with his girlfriend. He spent 90 days in prison and was ordered to take an anger management course. The time in jail did not make Christopher a better person. He says he just got sneakier. Going forward he was in and out of relationships and never stayed long in one place. A friend told him about an opportunity in the oil field, and Christopher was on the move again. He met the owner of a company, got hired, but soon after was fired.

Still consuming Dexedrine, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, Christopher experienced his first incident of psychosis. Fearing the stimulant was responsible he quit using it and started using cocaine and oxycodone, instead. 

Christopher’s life was on a downward spiral, and he was on the run. Another geographical move, this time to Bella Coola where his grandmother lived, only Christopher never made it there. He stopped in Williams Lake and stayed there for three years.

During that time Christopher switched to using heroin. He racked up dangerous driving charges and was in and out of jail. Christopher met a woman who made him want to change all that. She didn’t know Christopher used heroin and when she found out, he promised to quit. Christopher tried many times, even going on methadone, but he was not able to maintain abstinence. His girlfriend left him, and Christopher was on his own again.

“It was a wake-up call,” Christopher admits. Vowing to break free from heroin Christopher sought help through medicated assisted treatment using methadone to minimise his cravings for heroin. Christopher says he was never able to get off all drugs entirely, but instead replaced one for the other. But no matter how he switched it up, trouble seemed to follow him. A few months later Christopher ran into his brother who was using heroin. Christopher picked up where he left off and went downhill from there. 

From intravenous drug use, Christopher suffered abscesses and was a frequent visitor at the hospital where he received antibiotics. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph bacteria that’s resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat staph infections) set in. Christopher was underweight with sores on his face. His doctor told him he would be in and out of hospitals until he changed his lifestyle or died from it. 

Christopher went to detox and started Methadone. He needed treatment, but there was a five-month wait list. His life continued to unravel. He stayed with his sister and brother-in-law and stole from them. When he was asked to leave, Christopher became homeless and lived on the streets. One day, out of the blue, Christopher received a phone call from his sister asking him to return to her house.

Defeated, exhausted and sick, Christopher entered his sister’s house where he received the surprise of his life. In spite of his hurtful actions in the past, his brother-in-law’s parents Jane and Desmond gave Christopher the gift of life. Christopher shakes his head, and his voice trembles as he recounts this part of his story. Jane and Desmond said “we see you need help” and they offered to fund Christopher’s treatment at Edgewood.

With no idea what to expect, Christopher entered Edgewood feeling lost, damaged and broken. He says the staff were incredible and encouraged him to open up. Christopher had spent his whole life being self-reliant and letting others in was hard to do. It took him a month to get honest. After that things got easier. As he worked through his assignments, Christopher began feeling confident. Nearing the end of his treatment stay Christopher had an idea. He started giving haircuts on the sly and trading his services for cigarettes. Christopher told himself it was okay, but he kept it a secret. Just before graduation at Edgewood, Christopher got a wake-up call when his counsellor confronted him on acting out in old behaviour. He learned relapse happens before you pick up. It starts when you rationalize doing things you know you shouldn’t do and then keep it a secret. 

Christopher’s lightbulb moment came when he realized he couldn’t trust his thinking. Completing treatment, Christopher knew he needed further support. He moved into a sober living environment, and followed his aftercare plan. 

Today Christopher has a new obsession – his recovery – this time he got it right. He’s 14 months clean and sober and enjoys helping others. Christopher credits Edgewood for changing his life. He’s thankful to his family and for Jane and Desmond’s generosity. He works for a local business doing his sheet metal apprentice and has made new friends who like him for who he is, not what he has.

All his life Christopher thought someone strong and courageous would come along and save him from himself. Known as The House of Miracles, Edgewood found that person. Christopher shrugs. “I finally met the guy who would save my life.” He pauses, wipes his eyes, and concludes. “The man I was looking for, was me.”