By: JESSICA THOMPSON
Dan StJean’s eyes softened as he looked at 12-year-old dog Lexus — the world around him disappeared. He lifted his hand and in response to the wordless command, she ran to his side waiting for the next order.
“I got her to help me stay clean,” said StJean. After she was brought into the family, two more Rottweilers were added to keep Lexus company.
“There was no trauma in my life, no abuse, no nothing, I just didn’t know how to cope,” said StJean as he began to recall the trigger that led him to a two-year drug addiction.
StJean describes addiction as a brain illness. “If you have ever played a video game, you remember that first time that you won and you want to play again because you want to get that rush again.”
The rush was what led StJean to begin dealing drugs; culminating in a major $15,000 cash deal in Sudbury, Ontario.
StJean says he spent that money in less than two weeks. With that, StJean – at the age of 25 – had no other option then to go to a detox clinic and get help.
“I went to my first AA meeting and I walked up the stairs and it was like the stairway to heaven,” said StJean.
After the detox, he went to a French half way house, but ended up getting kicked out.
“The first thing I did was go to a bar.”
Instead of relapsing back into a life full of darkness, StJean made a phone call to one of the AA calling contacts to get help. That call changed his life for the better.
“You have to train your brain to stop thinking about the negatives and realize things are going to work out.”
StJean went back to school, got a job at Serenity House, and got a dog. He soon came to the realization that his former addiction to drugs, something that was so negative, should be turned into something positive. He shifted the energy once spent on his addiction to training his dog.
“That dog is my savior,” said StJean, reaching over to pat Lexus on the head.
With his new job, StJean is able to help improve the quality of life for men with substance use disorders. Able to “give them tools to learn how to deal with life.”
Being clean since Apr. 28, 1997, StJean hopes his story will help many drug addicts.
“We are not the same people but we suffer from the same disease.”