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Speaker warns Stoughton students about the dangers of drug use

Students at Stoughton Central School heard a presentation recently about the consequences of drug use.
From left, Bill Ward and Janine Hazelaar spoke to the community and students at the Stoughton Central School about drug and alcohol addiction.

STOUGHTON - Bill Ward is a recovery activist and addictions educator, and Janine Hazelaar is a mental health clinician and family recovery educator who came to the Stoughton Central School on Nov. 20 and 21 to speak to the community and students on addictions.

Ward and Hazelaar are from Calgary and both have been down the path of drug or alcohol addiction.

Lea Hemphill organized the event and feels it is important for parents, students and the community to understand and learn about the problems that surround these issues and how they come about at times.

The community evening saw a small crowd attend, but Ward was okay with this, as he felt the right people were present to learn and support the program.

Ward struggled for many years with addiction. He felt he was neither white nor Indigenous, as his mother was white and his dad was Cree.

His mother left when he was very young and his dad was no longer able to care for him, so he dropped Ward off at his grandmother's. His parents had a drinking problem.

With his childhood messed up, he did not feel love nor that he was wanted. He turned to drugs when has was a young teenager and alcohol when he was around 17.

These drugs made him feel good until they wore off, and soon he was dependent on the substances to give him the good feeling. Ward also had rage within him and during a bender, he nearly killed a person and landed in jail.

He felt he did not live up to what others thought he should be, and he decided that people with lots of money were happy, so this became his goal and he became a workaholic.

Starting a business from the ground up, he became a well-to-do entrepreneur. He had a fancy truck and a large and expensive home. He married and had children, but the rage still lived within him.

During this time, he was clean and began to look for his brother. He found his sibling at a drug house, and Ward needed to prove he was not the law by taking a hit of drugs. One time would surely not hurt him, but he was wrong.

This one time hit would sent Ward on a destructive path. He lost his business, his million-dollar home and his fancy trucks, and found him and his family homeless. His marriage did not survive this.

It was when he hit rock bottom that he looked for help. He realized that his past was still hurting him, and he needed help with this.

It was a past that did not show him much love, a past that made him grow up fast, and a past in which he did not have parents to go to.

He has been clean now for nine years. He rents an apartment in Calgary and helps those that have gone through the same thing.

Ward said children need to be nourished at home, where kids can be themselves and not pushed into something they are not ready for or not prepared to handle.

Kids need loving parents and equal time with them if there are siblings.

Ward feels siblings can be jealous of each other and may feel one child is loved more than the other.

He explained the need for kids to be able to turn to their parents with issues or mistakes and not put the child down for coming forward. It is a good thing when kids feel comfortable talking to their parents.

Ward said for some, they might clean up for a week, a month or even a year, but if they have not dealt with their past and cleaned up their spirit it will not last.

He feels his program helps six out of 10 people and other programs are not as successful.

“Asking for help is the hardest part,” said Ward. “It is then that we can begin to help someone.”

The road to help someone is to listen, and Ward believes this begins at home or by talking to someone.

“We need to get rid of the labels, as no one who has an addiction problem intended to become this way,” Ward said.

At this time of year, there will be more social gatherings, so please do not drive while impaired.