This is a story about a kid I know. He’s actually 23 years old right now, but he says most of his teenage years were wasted on getting high and trying to be an adult. He’s trying to relive his teenage years, and do it the way he actually wanted to.

Let’s start at the beginning. He was 13, in middle school, and on the basketball team, a happy kid. Then his parents got a divorce. His mom moved far away, and his dad started drinking and quit caring. So the kid left home. He tried to get a job, but no one would hire a thirteen year old. He started living under a bridge in downtown Ottawa.

He was too young to get help without his parents’ permission, so he relied on panhandling and the extra sandwiches and granola bars his friends would bring him from YSB’s Downtown Drop-In to survive. Two years went by like this, and he bounced back and forth between Ottawa and Montreal.

Just before his sixteenth birthday, he was in Montreal, and a friend of his gave him a pill for his birthday. It turned out to be ecstasy, and he had a crazy night. He came down, and wondered why he had been turning down drugs all of this time. For the next four years, every dollar he got went to drugs. He came back to Ottawa, got a new sleeping bag, and moved in beside the Canal. Every morning, he would wake up, panhandle, and get either ecstasy, cocaine, or weed.

He was old enough now to come to the Drop-In himself, and he depended on it for food. After four years of living like this, and eating only at the Drop-In, he met a girl. She convinced him to get clean. He went to rehab for a month in Brockville, and then came home to her. They both got jobs, and found an apartment together.

He says the two things that turned his life around were his girl, and the Youth Services Bureau.  YSB kept him fed, and kept his spirit intact. His girl made him want to live a real life.

Now he’s working in a sports store, and he and his girlfriend are planning on starting a family soon.

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