Addiction’s Destructive Hold

by Linda Leigh
Categories: Feature, Mobile
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Ron’s life was a mess. His problems were gigantic. Then one day he stumbled on The Salvation Army, and his life became a different story.

By age five Ron had faced the reality of his life. His mom was an alcoholic who was always passed out, and his father was physically abusive, constantly picking fights with him.

As he grew older Ron couldn’t cope with the pressure and bought into the dream that cocaine would take away his pain.

Before long Ron was in a cocaine-fueled state most of the time. He was homeless and was so preoccupied with the drug that he didn’t even think about basic hygiene like bathing or changing his clothes. “The addiction had me,” says Ron.

To maintain his habit Ron borrowed dirty money. He knew that owing a drug debt was suicide. “People want their money back no matter what,” says Ron. He managed to escape their watchful eye.

One day Ron developed a pain, discoloration and swelling in his leg that was impossible to ignore. About the same time his head filled with a strong smell of soup.  He looked over to see people clustered on the sidewalk in front of a white van with a red Salvation Army logo on its side.

The van was serving soup and snacks to the city’s neediest individuals. After he received his bowl of soup Ron lingered and chatted with workers. They were worried about his leg and took him to a local hospital. Here he learned he had a blood clot, related to cocaine abuse, which could have caused severe organ damage or even death.

But that’s not the end of the story. Through The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light in Toronto, Ron received help with his addictions and benefited from their 11-month transitional housing program.

Ron has been clean for close to two years. He’s learned budgeting skills that allow him to live in his own apartment. Nutrition workshops have taught him how to plan healthy meals that give him more energy. Volunteering as a maintenance worker for the Army has restored his self-worth and confidence.

“I’m finally in control of my life,” says Ron. “And my biggest achievement is that I’m still here.”