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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Just crushed 87km on my first day of riding with my cast! It's going to take some time to get used to. Shout out to the doctor in Sault Ste Marie for doing my cast up as best as he could so I could continue riding! Back at it in the morning! ... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago

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Brendan Kalijundic, Marni Brooks and 9 others like this

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Laurie CollinsSo sorry to hear about your fall, Chris. You're amazing to be continuing with the ride. You are an Ironman!

15 hours ago   ·  1
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The plot thickens! So I had to go ahead and get my wrist looked at and I'm happy I did. I broke my scaphoid bone in my wrist and had to get a cast on it. As well I have to go see an orthopedic surgeon when I get home to see if I need surgery on it when I'm finished my ride. Could be worse. Glad the doctor was a cyclist and did his best to make sure I can still ride lol. ... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago

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Scenic pics from Lake Superior Provincial Park! ... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago

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Super late posting, but I made it to Thunder Bay! Unfortunately I fell on my wrist and broke it which is going to add an interesting variable to the equation. ... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago

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3 Time Zones and 4 Provinces Down! ... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

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Just crushed 104km between Ignace and Upsala and got eaten alive by horse flys in the process. Hopefully will be hitting Thunder Bay tomorrow!! ... See MoreSee Less

7 days ago

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Barbara MurrayOnly been to Thunder Bay once. Had dinner then went and camped at Kakabeka Falls which was amazing. Keep on rolling Chris.

7 days ago
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Made it to Ignace, Ontario! Should be in Thunder Bay in couple of days! Also pictured is last night's sunset that I forgot to post! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Made it to Vermillion Bay, Ontario! Crushed 90km today with more hills than I can explain! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Thanks soo much to John Quinn for hosting us in Kenora, Ontario, cooking us an amazing dinner and taking us out to breakfast this morning! You're the man! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Officially back in Ontario!! A little over halfway across the country!! Met Sarah and Jen who are a couple of fellow cross country cyclists!! Good to be back on home turf!! Looking forward to coming home for a week off in a couple of weeks!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

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Rose Barbour, Deanne de los Cichones and 23 others like this

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Yvonne C Deshope a stop in Sudbury is planned!! :)

2 weeks ago   ·  1

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Kimberly Twigg-WaznyCome visit

2 weeks ago   ·  1

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Barbara MurrayMaking good time.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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James MaceWelcome back

2 weeks 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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