Back from depths of despair: years of addiction

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Back from depths of despair: Cambridge resident survives years of addiction

Billy Moore is back. Back, that is, from the depths of despair that go hand in hand with a drug and alcohol addiction so severe there seems no way out.

Moore, 52, is a survivor of addiction and he has much to prove it, including a Courage to Come Back Award presented by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation. He is among six Ontario residents who will be presented the award on May 20 in Toronto. The award is presented to individuals who have shown courage and determination in the face of mental illness and addiction.

"I know there's people out there who deserve it more than I do," Moore said of his award. "All I wanted to do was straighten out my life. I wasn't expecting to win anything for it."

Moore's drug and alcohol addiction began as a teenager and continued for 27 years until he literally hit rock bottom, losing an auto repair business, his family, a wife and child and any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

He said he abused marijuana, alcohol and cocaine.

"I was under the influence of one or the other for 27 years," Moore said. "In the end, ultimately it destroyed all my hopes and dreams of a future. I was lost, penniless, homeless and pretty messed up...My business went down the tubes. I lost any means of making money and at that point I lost my confidence and was very ashamed of myself."

The turning point in Moore's life occurred a week before he was due to leave an apartment he had been evicted from. The day was April 14, 1999 and he awoke knowing he had to get help or die. That day he checked himself into a treatment centre for drug and alcohol rehabilitation and he's been clean ever since.

"The first year I was in a fog. It's still a blur to me right now," Moore said. "But I did what they said. I stayed away from the people, places and things that got me in trouble. I learned to live without my best friends: drugs and alcohol."

Moore moved from Sudbury to Cambridge in 2000 to be closer to his sisters and their families, and his 27-year-old son who lives in Toronto. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to rebuild relationships with his loved ones.

Today, Moore works full-time as an auto mechanic and is active in his church where he works with a youth group and facilitates a group called Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program for people suffering from various "hurts and habits".

An avid off-road racer, Moore takes every opportunity to promote Racing Against Drugs, an anti-drug program of the Waterloo Regional Police. He takes his off-road vehicles to races, fairs and other public events where he speaks to thousands of kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

"There's thousands and thousands of people who get the message," Moore said. "I tell kids you don't have to be high to get high."