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Turning my life around after addiction

Lennox Boodram wants Bermuda to know he's very, very sorry. He said a crack addiction made him steal $42,050 from KBB while he was the environmental charity's executive director.

Jail and rehab helped him heal — the 55-year-old is now the head of a drug awareness centre in his native Trinidad.

He credits Pathways Bermuda for the change. In 2009, the local agency signed him up for treatment in the US.

“I didn't have the money to go to rehab,” Mr Boodram told Lifestyle.

“Without the help of Caron Bermuda [as Pathways was then called], I'm convinced I'd be dead right now.

“I was leading a double life back then. By day I'd be working on some project with the police. At night I'd go home and get completely stoned. I hurt a lot of people.

“I want to apologise to those people. Some I didn't even know. I want to apologise to my family who are still in Bermuda.”

He spent 18 months at Westgate Correctional Facility and did a brief stint at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute in addition to his treatment in the US.

In the seven years he has been clean, he's gained a certificate in social work and studied addiction in the Caribbean at the University of the West Indies

He uses his experience to counsel people at Turning Point Drug Awareness Centre, the faith-based crisis intervention programme he started in South Oropouche two years ago.

“I just want to give back,” he said. “Turning Point is a support programme similar to Alcoholics Anonymous or Focus Counselling. Anyone can just walk into the centre.

“We do a lot of prevention and working with families. I try to fill a void. I work with schools and churches and educate people on how the addict thinks. I do a lot of workshops.

“We have places where people can sleep but don't keep them for long. They stay a couple of days and do an assessment and we move them to the next step.”

Mr Boodram is proud he is finally able to make amends and give back in some way. He is particularly concerned about how his actions may have affected his children in Bermuda, both of whom were quite young at the time.

“Being able to give to other people's lives is what I am most proud of,” he said. “I've been burnt and broken, but my faith in God has never been stronger. I have now seen the result of the hard work that I have put into my recovery; relationships around me have been building. It feels like I have come full circle.”

He started smoking marijuana at 14. He graduated to cocaine in his early twenties, and then crack. In the 1980s he moved to Canada thinking a change of location might help.

“I managed to quit for a number of years, but I was still drinking alcohol,” he said. “In Bermuda culture, and in Trinidad, alcohol isn't seen as a drug because it is legal. When I came to Bermuda in the mid-1990s I wasn't using drugs, but I was drinking.”

He was drug-free when KBB hired him in 1998.

He thinks his relapse was partly because he lacked a spiritual connection. He returned to crack, quickly combining it with heroin, alcohol and prescription medication, to “feel something”.

“When you have that connection to a higher power you fill that void,” he said.

The choices he made seem crazy to him now.

“I had one of the best jobs in the world,” he said. “I worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices. People said, ‘Why did you throw it away?'

“I didn't throw it away, I lost it because of a bad choice I made. Once the drug takes hold, you lose the ability to make rational decisions. All you want is to get the next fix.”

Once in recovery, he reached out to anyone he could find that he had hurt.

“I was able to connect with then president of KBB and to apologise,” he said. “Nobody screamed at me.

“My behaviour wasn't intentional, but it was stupid and nasty. I had some very good personal friends in Bermuda. I know my friends and family were hurt. There were people who put their reputation and character on the line to be my friend.”

He said that since returning to Trinidad, he's been trying to make amends.

“If I could stop one person from going through the pain and suffering I went through, it would be worth it”, he said.

“I am still suffering the consequences of the choices I made.”

He said he's willing to make amends to Bermuda, any way he can.

“I am extremely sorry,” he said. “I am asking for forgiveness.”

Giving back: Lennox Boodram now counsels people at the Turning Point Drug Awareness Centre in Trinidad, a faith-based programme he started (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 14, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 14, 2016 at 8:16 am)

Turning my life around after addiction

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