CHRIS' STORY

IN THE SUMMER OF 2014 I BICYCLED ACROSS CANADA FROM VICTORIA, BC TO ST. JOHNS, NEWFOUNDLAND. WITH A GROUP OF YOUNG FILMMAKERS WE CREATED A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE CANADIAN PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE EPIDEMIC, REVEALING JUST HOW MUCH THIS ISSUE HAS AFFECTED OUR COUNTRY.

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My name is Chris; I’m 30 years old and I want to share my experience with addiction. Hopefully my story will, in some way, will assist users and their families who are in need of support.

How did I get into the “hole” of prescription drug abuse? It all started with fear.

Huntington’s disease is a neuro-degenerative illness that destroyed my grandmother’s life and when my father was diagnosed with it, I was just a teenager still living at home. After the diagnosis my father turned to alcohol to ease his pain and 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.  At the time I but didn’t understand at the time the consequences of mixing alcohol and medications
As a result of this harmful combination, I watched my hero slowly give up on his life; I also gave up on mine. One day I was going out to brunch with my then, girlfriend and her family my dad came to the door and hugged me hard, and told me that he loved me so much.
I knew that with Huntington’s disease at some point soon he was likely going to pass away early on, so I got into an everyday habit of telling him I loved him. At the time, his overly affectionate goodbye 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. I was devastated. The remaining self-esteem I had was destroyed.
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. While coping with the loss of my father,  family members were asking for money, and others insinuated that my show of emotion was an act to receive attention which couldn’t have been further from the truth.



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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 that if I was going to move forward in life I needed to numb myself.

I started by using a couple Percocets, which seemed to calm me down,. I hid this from most people, including my girlfriend at the time, whom I loved dearly. As the process drugging escalated into roughly 5 x 80mg OxyContin a day, my deception grew exponentially.  I began to manipulate and take advantage of people’s trust, telling outlandish lies.
Needless to say, I did not progress in getting over the loss of my father. My addicition, pain and mistakes inevitably led to the loss of the only person who I felt genuinely cared for me, my girlfriend. It was another devastating blow. That was when I bottomed out: my family and friends were ashamed of me the girl who loved me had left, I had lost my father to suicide 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.

For me, hitting my rock bottom prompted me to build a new foundation.

I decided something needed to change if I ever wanted respect, good health and the faith of those who gave up on me.  After all, I owed it to my father and those who truly never gave up on me to climb out of the hole. I joined the methadone program, a process  that took me 5 years to complete. My doctor was a wonderful woman, equally fair as she was stern. She helped me realize that personal accountability is one of the key factors in moving forward, and after completing such a difficult task of coming clean from an opiate addiction I had an unshakable self confidence.

6 months later, I came up with an idea that would help addicts and their families.

I partnered with Shyah, an aspiring filmmaker and together we planned to turn an 8000km bike ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast into a feature-length documentary. I wanted to show people that it was possible to beat an addiction, and that just as I lived my dreams, so too could others live theirs.
If you’re reading this and feel my personal experience I could help in some  or would like to know more about my our project please email chrispcull@gmail.com. Just remember, if you or your loved one is suffering through addiction, your life is not over. Mistakes were made, but don’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 Cull

THE TEAM

Chris Cull

Founder of Inspire by Example (Director, Producer)

cc1Chris Cull is a filmmaker and the founder of Inspire by Example as well as a recovering addict. In 2014 he bicycled across Canada, from Victoria, BC, to St. John’s, Newfoundland raising awareness about prescription drug abuse. He filmed his journey, and interviewed local community leaders, patients, and people in recovery along the way.

Chris is a nationally recognized public speaker and has advised numerous institutions and organizations on issues around prevention and treatment of drug abuse, including the Canadian Minister of Health, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, and the National Advisory Council on Prescription Drugs.

 

ShyahShyah Yan Zarrabi (Producer)

Whether its producing documentaries or creating wedding videos, filmmaking is a way for Shyah to connect to his audience. He understands that with a few precious minutes or hours, a video can evoke hope, awe, tears or laughter. Shyah has been working on the “Inspire” documentary since its inception in 2013 and has since been working alongside Chris on the development of the documentary and future projects for Inspire by Example.

The past two years has given him the chance to positively affect his community, a goal Shyah set out to achieve when he first started making short films 10 years ago.

 

bryan piggott photoBryan Piggott (Director, Editor, Cinematographer)

Bryan Piggott is a 28 year old videographer and editor with over ten years experience in the field. Bryan graduated from The International Academy of Design and Technology, Toronto Film School in 2008. In his hometown of Courtice, ON he, and business partner Al Cowling, run their own high-end professional camera rental company, One Take Wonder Bros. When Bryan isn’t working on a current gig, he can often be found with a camera in his hand as he lives his passion for travel and exploration – a reason the Inspire project was a perfect fit for Bryan.

 

allan cowling photoAllan Cowling (Cinematographer)

Allan Cowling of Courtice, ON was one of the two cameramen behind the documentary “Inspire”.  Though he was never schooled in film, Allan has worked in film for most of his adult life, learning from those he worked alongside, taking on roles in both the Camera and Production Department. His project history varies from documentaries, features, sporting events and commercial instructional videos.

Allan attributes the documentary’s 3-month filming process to his development as a cinematographer:

“Filming in a changing, unpredictable environment over an extended amount of time taught me to work creatively as a team despite long-term pressure.  For those reasons and more, Inspire will always be amongst the most immersive projects I have ever been a part of. It has prepared me for all future endeavors to come.”

VIDEO BLOG

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Huge thanks to the Canadian Mental Health Association and Fresh Start Recovery for having me speak today!! And a very special thank you to Lisa Simone for the invitation and setting it up!! You're the best!! =) ... See MoreSee Less

5 hours ago

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From yesterday:

After riding over 90kms over 6.5 hours (mostly in the pouring rain), I finally made it to Calgary! Today was probably my hardest day of riding so far as I didnt sleep well last night, wasn't feeling well when I woke up and was so cold and waterlogged for hours today, that I'm still struggling to warm up. It took everything I had in me just to finish the day today.

Now I'm out of the Rockies and into the prairies! 5,189km left until the finish line!
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5 hours ago

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Pics from Lake Louise! ... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

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Anne Rough, Joanne Mulder and 18 others like this

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Sherri Mayor LafleurSerene and peaceful - the thinking Lake.

4 days ago   ·  1
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Cathryn CullBeautiful scenery looks cold.

3 days ago
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I'm a couple of days late posting, but I made it to Canmore, Alberta!! Thank you to Mandy Johnson, Gini Dalgas and Carol Poland for coming out and riding with me as I rolled into town!! You guys are the best!!

1 province down, 7 more to go!
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4 days ago

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Just got off my bike after riding 5 hours in 5-8 degree weather in the pouring rain! I'm so cold and waterlogged that it's going to take atleast an hour to get my core temperature back to normal. That was by far the most miserable day of riding I've had since I started. Back at it again tomorrow!! ... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

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Chantal Gentili, Pamela Hansen and 12 others like this

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Roxanne LeBlancThat's amazing! You're a trooper.

6 days ago
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Mandy JohnsonAre you in a hurry to get somewhere???? I thought for sure you would have taken yesterday OFF. You are insane, young man!!!

6 days ago
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Cathryn CullI hate to rub it in but it was 29 degrees here today! Warm up!

4 days ago   ·  1
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Just rolled into Golden, BC! Should be entering Alberta in the next day or two!! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Pamela Hansen, Tina Benczenleitner-Burrows and 17 others like this

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Mandy JohnsonWow.... you are flying. You will probably be here in Canmore in 2 more days????

1 week ago

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Barbara MurrayUp and over the continental divide in two days. Good luck

1 week ago
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Finally finished riding for the day! ALOT of big hills today and my legs are gassed out! Back at it again tomorrow! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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After riding 75km through bad weather and rough terrain, we've finally made it to Revelstoke! Today was a long hard day! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Pamela Hansen, Josh Brohart and 15 others like this

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Barbara MurrayMaking good time. Ride safe

1 week ago
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If you are ever In Northern Manitoba... We could so benefit from your visit😊. What you do is incredible! My son is 14 months clean from prescription opioids ... With the help of methadone; which he is now being decreased off of! Overcoming addiction is an incredible thing... ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

Judy Posteraro, Jessica Burtch and 6 others like this

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Brian PisaniFuck!!!!!!!!!!elevems and sevens fuck you .

5 days ago
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Shout out to Joe Schmucks Roadhouse in Sicamous, BC for hooking us up with free camping to support the cause! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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CONTACT US

 




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Summer 2014 Chris will be bicycling across Canada form Victoria, BC to St. Johns, Newfoundland filming about the local prescription drug abuse scene to show the massive scale on which the issue has affected the country. If you’d like to be a part of Chris’s journey, or have any questions please contact us.

CONTACT INFO

  • Address: Trans Canada Hwy
  • Phone: 905.926.1155
  • Email: chriscull@inspirebyexample.ca

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