Greg and Graham Quinn didn’t plan on becoming drug addicts. In fact, they had no plans to use drugs at all.
They were both athletes growing up and came from a good family.
But as the brothers would learn, it can happen to anyone.
About eight years ago, Greg was living on Hudson Street, New Glasgow with his father Wade, when his dad had back surgery. With the surgery came pain medication.
One day Greg had a headache and couldn’t find any Tylenol.
“I grabbed a couple of dad’s green pills,” he said. “He didn’t know.”
A one-time use was followed by a second and before he knew it, the cravings for the pain killers wouldn’t go away. His brother Graham followed a similar path and also became addicted.
“It seemed harmless,” he said.
Somewhere along the way, their dad, Wade, did too. And for about five years they all struggled with the addiction and the effects it had on their lives. Drug abuse with pills led to drug abuse with intravenous drugs and their problems only worsened. Their arms bear the scars of those years. Relationships were damaged as lies were told to cover their addiction.
“I’ve been as low as anybody can go,” Greg says.
If it hadn’t been for their father, a supportive doctor and an addiction program, the brothers say they would never have gotten off the drugs and been able to restore the relationships they damaged with family.
For two-and-a-half years, the three have been part of the methadone program which is offered through the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Methadone is a synthetic drug that is used to help people who are addicted to opioid drugs such as morphine or heroine. The methadone completely replaces the opioids and then is stepped down gradually over time until it is no longer needed.
The Quinn brothers credit Dr. Aaron Smith locally for helping them to get into the program and the staff in the opioid treatment program clinic for their support, but both say they would never have been able to do it without their dad, who encouraged them to join him in the program and beat the addiction. Days that Graham would lay on the couch and not want to go, he says his father would pressure him.
The brothers now encourage others who are struggling with an addiction to get help. While it can take some time to get into a methadone program, they encourage people to talk to their doctors and others about what to do in the meantime.
Graham says it was hard for him to admit he needed help at first, but now he will gladly talk to anyone else if they are struggling. While he’s not a professional and defers to those who are, he said he’s happy to share from his experience.
“If you’re willing to fight, there’s people that are willing to help you,” he said.
Now that they’ve gone two and a half years with clean tests, the family is preparing to undergo another fight. Wade Quinn has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. But with the same strength they used as a family to overcome their addictions, they will also fight this disease.
“Most people in this situation would have broken down and gave up,” said Graham. “My father is so optimistic.”