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Forty-one-year-old Randy Shannon remembers starting to drink at 11 or 12 years old. His friends were older and already in high school. He went with them to parties where alcohol was served. By the time Randy was in high school he was a veteran — drinking every weekend.
“I liked it and started having a few beers in the morning before school,” remembers Randy. Then the fighting started and he was expelled only a few months before graduation. At 17, Randy started working in construction and continued drinking every day. The cycle of working, making more money and drinking more, escalated into cocaine use.
Eventually, Randy found an office job as a bill collector and then landed an even better job with Bell Canada. More money meant the partying increased and painkillers joined the drugs and alcohol.
“Although I had no physical pain, I had mental pain and always wanted to escape. To me, the drinking was never that bad and I always thought when it came right down to it, I could quit.” After several verbal and written warnings about inappropriate behaviour and missing Fridays at work, Randy was then offered support through a Rehabilitation Program. His refusal led to his eventual termination.
At this time, Randy was about to become a father. With this new addition to his life, he tried to quit the painkillers. He realized the difficulty of quitting soon after. “Death seems better than what you’re going through –the stomach problems, the mental horror and the sorrow – it’s weeks and weeks of sickness.”
Methadone ended his dependence on painkillers, but the drinking never stopped. Randy found himself in jail for drinking and driving, assault and counterfeit money charges. “By this time, alcohol was my best friend and I just didn’t want to believe I had to quit.”
Randy’s continued dependence on alcohol broke up his relationship and put him in a coma twice: once after drinking a bottle of rubbing alcohol and another after he was badly beaten in a bar fight. It also got him banned from three hospitals as he was caught drinking the hand sanitizers: “That’s where I could always find a drink.”
Ten months ago, Randy was released from jail and came to the DARE Program with only the clothes on his back. “I’ve never been sober this long in my life and I could never stay sober if not for the support of Good Shepherd.”
Randy follows a daily routine that includes meetings, chores and reading books that inspire him. Randy also sees his 10-year-old son regularly. They enjoy outings like the Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, the beach, shopping and dinner. Life is full of all the ordinary miracles again.
“With faith in God, the structure, the support – every day of my sober life is attributed to Good Shepherd and the people who are here. I’ve had a spiritual awakening and I’m really happy.”