Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jun 2005
Source: Midland Mirror (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Midland Mirror
Author: Janis Leering, staff writer


Paul Christie was stabbed, shot, thrown in jail and blamed for his
girlfriend's suicide before he finally stopped using drugs.

Christie recently spoke with students at St. Theresa's High School
about the dangers of starting to use marijuana and alcohol, and how it
can lead to more harmful drugs.

By the time he was 15, Christie was smoking marijuana, and he started
drinking in Grade 9.

"See, I had a problem whenever I got drunk. I would break out in
handcuffs," said Christie with a smile.

He said, after a party in Grade 9, he remembers breaking into a
seasonal home nearby, and lighting some candles.

"After that, I blacked out. I remember waking up at home and hearing
on the international news that two million dollar homes were burned to
the ground the night before.

"My coat smelled like smoke but I couldn't remember anything other
than lighting the candles."

For the next three years, Christie said the police kept bugging him
until he was finally arrested in Grade 11.

"I was 17 years old and I was originally sent to a psychiatric
hospital, charged with arson, but I asked to be transferred to the
Guelph Reformatory."

He said he grew up in prison, where there were more drugs available
than on the outside.

"I lied to my parents and asked them to send me $200 every two weeks
so I wouldn't get beat up. But I was using it for heroin and cocaine."

When he finally got out of prison, Christie was an addict and started
robbing stores to get enough money to keep up the habit. After a few
more run-ins with police, Christie moved to California, where he was
charged eight times in six months with drunk driving.

He eventually landed back in a correctional centre, and said this jail
was terrible compared to the one in Guelph.

Still an addict when he was released three years later, Christie
hooked up with a girl who was also an addict. In order to buy drugs,
he sold her body to a drug dealer one day, and in 1997, she ended up
committing suicide.

"I got a letter in the mail two days later, a note from her, which
said she couldn't believe the only man she ever loved was able to do
something like that," said Christie.

He also shared a story about getting high over Christmas holidays
instead of spending time with his young son, and about his own suicide
attempt, which failed.

"I looked in the mirror after that and saw a monster. I thought it
might be an acid relapse, so I looked again and still saw the same

It was then Christie decided he had another chance at life, so he quit
doing drugs.

Now Christie said it was bad choices that made him into a drug addict,
and he has been clean for almost six years.

"I have been doing public speaking since September and if I can just
save one person, I'm happy," said Christie.

Grade 10 student Kyle St. Amand said there was lots of information in
Christie's presentation that hopefully reached other students.

"It takes a lot of guts to do that. He has obviously been through a
lot," said St. Amand.

The student said he knows some students who are going down the path of
experimenting with drugs and said he learned about making smart
decisions and what can be the result of going down the path of drug

St. T's principal Matthew McCann said he believes drugs are becoming
more common in the community, and he invited Christie to speak to his
600 students about the subject.

"I wanted something that had a good sense of inclusion, so people who
aren't in the drug crowd can still identify with the message," said

"The school administration says there is a distinct upswing in the
accessibility of drugs, and in many ways, marijuana is competitive
with the cost of tobacco."

He also said, to help combat the problem, the Midland Police Service
has been proactive in dealing with drugs in town, checking popular
'hang out' spots during lunch hour.

May 9 was the first day of an initiative called Operation School Daze,
and a total of nine people were arrested for possession of an illegal
substance and drug paraphernalia between St. T's and Midland Secondary

One person was charged and the schools dealt with the others under the
Safe Schools Act.

For more information about Christie's message, visit his Web site at
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