From the beginning, life was never easy for D’Arcy Pierce.

He started using marijuana at 13 and began experimenting with other drugs a few years later and developed an alcohol addiction at 18.

“I never saw it as the problem that it was,” Pierce said. “I always justified it and rationalized it.

“I lost my job, I gave up my house, I was down and out and on the street, living under bridges and wherever I could live and still use. I lost basically my whole future.”

At 30, he entered a treatment program in Toronto and various 12-step programs, but years later, was back on the street in Ottawa, collecting bottles to fund his alcohol addiction.

Wanting to change his life, he entered the Ottawa Mission’s five-month Life House addictions program, graduating yesterday.

“It is probably one of the most difficult journeys because many times, they’ve been on this journey before,” said Diane Morrison, executive director of the Ottawa Mission.

Now 42, Pierce credits the program with changing his life. He lives in second-stage housing and is set to graduate from the shelter’s building maintenance program in April, after which he plans on starting his own business.

Someday, he hopes to go to university to study social work, “so I can help others overcome addiction,” he said.

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