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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Made it to Coles Island, NB which is literally in the middle of nowhere lol. Should be rolling into Moncton tomorrow!! ... See MoreSee Less

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Mandy JohnsonWow. You are almost THERE!

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Fredericton, New Brunswick sunset! ... See MoreSee Less

22 hours ago

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Made it to Fredericton, NB! Rolled past the sign for Kings Landing, now I have the Game of Thrones theme song stuck in my head lol ... See MoreSee Less

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Vincent CaraccioloWow congrats man that is a long way😉

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Made it to Woodstock, NB! Super hot day with a lot of huge hills, but a lot of beautiful scenery! Should be rolling into Fredericton tomorrow!! ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago

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Lynne BeldingHeading to my old stomping grounds. Lovely Fredericton! Lucky you!

3 days ago
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Sophie DeschenesMy home province is beautiful - enjoy it all!

3 days ago
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Just rolled into New Brunswick!! 4 time zones and 6 provinces down!! The size and consistency of these hills are going to haunt my dreams forever lol ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago

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Randell Clarke, Cathryn Cull and 13 others like this

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Katherine Ann MillerHopefully you will be stopping in PEI again

5 days ago

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Long but great day of riding! Made it to Riviere De Loup! Covered 124 km, had a strong tail wind and a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River all day!! If you have seen my film, the waterfall behind me is at the ending! Should be entering New Brunswick tomorrow!! ... See MoreSee Less

6 days ago

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Made it from Quebec City to Montmagny! Now I'm watching the beautiful sunset over the St Lawrence River! Back on the pony on the morning! ... See MoreSee Less

7 days ago

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Cathryn CullThat is gorgeous

7 days ago
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Rolled into Quebec City earlier today! Spending the afternoon sightseeing then it's back on the chariot in the morning! ... See MoreSee Less

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Debbie BryantHow's your wrist doing?Hope you get to lose the cast soon.

1 week ago
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Cathryn CullEnjoy it's a wonderful city

1 week ago
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Made it to Quebec! Should be rolling into Montreal in a few hours! 5 provinces down, 3 to go!! ... See MoreSee Less

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If you're down near union station in Toronto today, I'll be down there all afternoon doing media and engaging the public! Come visit!! ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

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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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