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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Great seeing my amazing friends/colleagues Annie McCullough and Lisa Simone at Recovery Day Toronto today!!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

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3 weeks ago

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After being stranded in Halifax for 2 days then driving 17 hours over the last 36 hours, sleeping in parking lots the last 3 nights ergo not showering for 3 days, spending over $1000 between the rv work and gas and only sleeping maybe 16 hours of the last 90 hours, I finally made it home =) If there is ever one time where I felt I earned a good undisturbed sleep in my own bed, today is that day! Good to be home! ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

Wanda Dawson, Amnda Bnting and 11 others like this

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Celie Cannon DoironWell deserved and have a great rest !!

1 month ago   ·  1
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Mikayla MarriottWish I would've known you were going through that when I saw your rv in the Walmart parking lot!!!!!!

1 month ago   ·  1

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Karrie-Ann BuchananChris Cull, why didn't you come over to Woodhaven RV Park... I could have comped you a site!

1 month ago
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Katherine Ann MillerYou deserve a rest Chris

1 month ago
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Thank you so much to the College of Family Physician's and Doctors Nova Scotia for putting on the breakfast this morning for the completion of my ride!! I'm honored and flattered by the warm gesture =) ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Jennifer Cedeno, Dianne Lewis and 10 others like this

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Ester QuigleyGood job, Chris! Thanks for inviting us for breakfast to hear you speak in front of the College of Family Physicians! You rock!!!

2 months ago
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Thanks so much to CTV Morning Live for having me on this morning and to Dr. David Milne for bringing a physicians perspective to the discussion!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Had a great time on Global Morning Halifax this morning!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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The ride is complete =) Thank you so much to everyone who worked with me to make this happen and everyone who supported me along the way!! It means the world and I can't thank you guys enough!!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Gail Greenaway Young, Mark Gentili and 23 others like this

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Celie Cannon DoironAwesome to see your brother, mom and Jerry there too !!! Great job !!

2 months ago   ·  1
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Kimberly Twigg-WaznyGreat job

2 months ago   ·  1
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James BolanWe love you Chris and celebrate this amazing endeavour and triumph with you. James & Stephanie. Proud of you and your commitment to helping others 🙂👍

2 months ago   ·  2
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Katherine Ann MillerCongratulations Chris

2 months ago
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Laurie CollinsWell done, Chris! We're proud of you, and so pleased for your success!

2 months ago
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Mark GentiliCongrats cuz! You rock!

2 months ago
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After investing a year of my life into this ride through 9 months of planning, 6 months of training, 3 months of riding, countless speaking events, media interviews and a broken wrist, today is the day I hit the finish line!!!! Pretty pumped =) ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Debbie Bryant, Sara Epp and 21 others like this

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Alison AkertAwesome job😊

2 months ago   ·  1
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J'Nan YatemanCongrats, proud to know you~~

2 months ago
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So close to the finish line =) ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Just rolled into Truro, Nova Scotia!! However, I keep pronouncing it as Churro (as in the delicious spanish dessert consisting of a deep fried pastry stick covered in cinnamon) lol. Just over 100km away from the finish line!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Jennifer Cedeno, Tony Posteraro and 20 others like this

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Ashley MacInnisSee you soon!!

2 months ago   ·  2

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Lynne BeldingCongratulations Chris!!

2 months ago   ·  1
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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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