Harold’s Story

Harold's addiction led to a life of loneliness. After reaching his end, Harold came to UGM, where he learned to accept help from others, and discovered his purpose in life.

Harold grew up in a strict Christian military family, but has always been a wild child. Looking to experience life, Harold left home in grade 11 to join the Royal Canadian Navy. “I only had a short time, and I wanted to live it,” he shares. Being in the naval force gave Harold the honour of serving all around the Pacific, but it also introduced him to alcohol, where heavy drinking was normal. “In the Navy, you work hard, you play hard. It’s just what you did.”

After being released from duty, Harold had a hard time adjusting. “In the Navy, you always have friends around. But not in civilian life. So I ended up drinking in bars,” he remembers. One of those nights, Harold was introduced to crack. “I spent the whole weekend high; it was part of my mindset that this is how you had fun. I didn’t know about addiction; from my upbringing in the military, I thought I could handle anything. I just went with the flow and rolled with the punches.”

Harold kept going with the flow of his lifestyle, and ended up being arrested for not paying an impaired driving charge. In jail, Harold met people in the drug trade—so after serving his 60 days, he became a drug dealer in Abbotsford. “I completely burned bridges with my family, and came into a whole separate way of life,” he says. “I ended up on the police radar, and I’d move every few months just to keep under the radar. That life was a complete dark circle.”


“Eventually, I had enough of the misery,” Harold explains. By a stroke of fate, he met UGM’s Lydia Home Manager in 1998, and completed recovery at UGM in Vancouver. From there, Harold optimistically rebuilt his life; he went to school, met an intelligent woman with good moral fibre who became his wife and mother to his children, and earned six figures. “But, I still hadn’t dealt with so many issues. I was calling myself a Christian, but Jesus wasn’t the Lord of my life. I felt God warning me that if I did not change, I was going to lose everything.”

Harold’s life crumbled within months, after his wife experienced a miscarriage. “I couldn’t be there for her emotionally, and I began dabbling into coke again,” he explains. After discovering he’d relapsed, Harold’s wife left him. “She had to protect her family and those she loved, but it still broke my heart,” he says. “Losing my family like that—I really felt there was nothing left to live for. Within a year, I was living in the Downtown Eastside. All my money went to my addiction, and I’d come to UGM to eat, and when I needed clean clothes.”


Completely at the end of himself, Harold felt called to come back to UGM. “I’d always trusted my own ability to handle anything, but addiction took that away. And I’d been trying to find something that would attest to all my years on this planet, but anything of value was marred by the hurt I’d caused,” he shares. “So I came into the program with an attitude of giving God all my heart. I said, ‘Lord, make something beautiful of this mess.’” With hard work, humility, and the support of a loving community, Harold’s prayers have been answered—and his life is renewed.

Today, Harold is 2 years sober, and wholeheartedly driven to helping others overcome addiction. He’s made an incredible impact, sharing his inspiring story and offering a hand-up first as a UGM Outreach & Shelter Intern, and now, as a compassionate Ministry Support Worker. “I’ve lost many friends to addiction, and there are so many people who have no hope. Now I live to help people find that. You just have to reach out with love and authenticity, because it’s relationships that change lives,” he explains. “I wanted my life to have meaning, and now I have a purpose. It’s to help make a difference.”