OVER­DOSE AND SUB­STANCE ABUSE AWARE­NESS

Theo Fleury’s Re­cov­ery From Ad­dic­tion An In­spi­ra­tion To Oth­ers

The Province - - ADVERTISMENT - Randi Druzin

I t’s been 13 years since NHL leg­end Theo Fleury put a loaded gun in his mouth but he remembers it like it was yes­ter­day. “I was about to pull the trig­ger when some­thing in me said, ‘You’ve never quit any­thing in your life. Why would you quit now?’” Fleury threw the gun into the Arizona desert and de­cided to con­quer his demons.

The Saskatchewan na­tive had a lot to over­come. He was born with a deficit of dopamine be­cause his mother had been ad­dicted to val­ium while preg­nant. When Fleury played hockey, the ex­cite­ment and phys­i­cal ex­er­tion flooded his body with the feel-good hor­mone. He be­came de­voted to the game.

When he was 15 years old, he moved to Win­nipeg to play ju­nior hockey. The scout who re­cruited him, Graham James, sex­u­ally as­saulted him re­peat­edly for two years. Fleury didn’t tell any­one. He turned to al­co­hol and drugs to cope.

Help­ing leads to healing

Fleury rose through the hockey ranks to be­come an NHL all-star. He played for the Cal­gary Flames when they won the Stan­ley Cup in 1989 and for teams that struck gold at the Canada Cup (1991) and the Win­ter Olympics (2002).

De­spite his suc­cess, his de­pres­sion deep­ened and his sub­stance abuse wors­ened.He suf­fered per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally and ended his 16-year NHL ca­reer in 2003.

Since that day in the desert, Fleury has re­built his life. He has penned two books — one that de­tails the sex­ual abuse he en­dured and an­other that gives ad­dicts ad­vice on how to heal. He de­votes much of his time to public speak­ing and char­ity work. “The more I help oth­ers the more I heal,” he says.

“We’ve all ex­pe­ri­enced trauma and strug­gle to find mean­ing in it.But you are not alone in your pain and suf­fer­ing,” he says. “The healing be­gins only when you start shar­ing your story with oth­ers.”

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