SURREY â€” Looking sharp in a blue-toned suit and neatly trimmed beard, Newton’s Ron Moloughney was holding it together as he described heartbreaking tales from his decades of addiction.
Until he started talking about one of his four sisters.
"She’d sleep beside me every night," he said, his low, steady voice starting to tremble. "She would sit there and hold me with tears in her eyes."
Moloughney is the youngest of eight. He says his four sisters and three brothers did their very best for him when they found him eight years ago on Main and Hastings with a needle in his arm.
"They still loved me. They tried to love me into sobriety and it didn’t work."
Moloughney was sharing his story to promote Substance Use Awareness Week, which runs May 24 to 30 in Surrey.
Moloughney was 50 in 2011 when he finally gave up drugs and alcohol for good. He knew he had a problem but he said he didn’t have the confidence or drive to get help.
But that all changed when his friend died. While they were intoxicated together, Moloughney’s friend fell off a sidewalk and hit his head.
What makes it even more tragic is that just 10 minutes before that, the two were talking about going to treatment together.
For the next month, Moloughney lived life alone and in a ‘daze,’ sleeping under a bridge and giving in fully to his addiction.
"It had taken everything from me… I was drinking hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol. I realized something had to change. I had to get help, so I turned to this lady here," Moloughney said, gesturing towards Monika Verma.
"It was about 5:30 and I was just locking up, ready to leave when Ron showed up intoxicated," said Verma, a health programs director at Positive Haven. "But when I looked into his eyes I knew there was a desperate need.
"He said to me, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. Help me.’"
With Verma’s help, Moloughney soon found himself in detox for 10 days, followed by 35 days of treatment at Maple Ridge Treatment Centre.
Four years later, Verma says the difference in Moloughney is like night and day.
"I still remember what he looked like when he first knocked on my door," she said. "He was wearing a hoodie, he had scars on his nose, he was bleeding and his shoulders were down. It’s amazing because now Ron stands up tall, he looks into your eyes and has confidence."
And that confidence has allowed him to give back to his community by helping others. He works with the peer program at the Lookout Society and volunteers with Positive Haven. He is also president of the Surrey Area Network of Substance Users.
"There are three must-dos in my recovery program – helping others, helping others and helping others."
And when he is helping others overcome their addictions, he shares the same piece of his advice – and he shares it from the heart.
"Never give up," he said. "Never give up. Have hope. And believe. Believe you can do it."
Substance Use Awareness Week is led by a group of community partner agencies working with Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy. For a list of Substance Use Awareness Week events, click here.