In December 2008, Josh’s life was in shambles. After an 8-year addiction to opiates, he had burned all his bridges, was heavily medicated, and had dropped out of high school with only one Grade 9 credit. He tried applying to other treatment programs, but they wouldn’t accept him.
He remembers telling a counsellor, “Unless you lock me up for 6 months and counsel me every day, I’m not going to make it.”
That counsellor had heard of Harvest House and recommended that Josh give us a call.
One week later, Josh arrived at Harvest House with nothing but a garbage bag of dirty clothes and a Bible.
Letting in Hope
Success wasn’t immediate for Josh. He relapsed his first week at Harvest House and again three months later. But relapse isn’t the end of the recovery journey. Harvest House continued to support him and teach him how to move forward. Failure can often be part of success; relapse can be part of recovery.
As he spent time at Harvest House, things started to change for Josh. He began to accept that the life he lived in the past didn’t have to define his future. He started to see a glimmer of hope.
“In my addiction, I got so used to failing that it was almost scary to have hope for the future,” Josh says. “One of the most important lessons I learned was that my past did not in any way, shape, or form reflect my potential.”
It took time for Josh to trust that the staff at Harvest House only wanted to help him. After years of living on the street and trusting no one, Josh had to learn how to let people help him.
At Harvest House, he also developed a relationship with Jesus Christ that has become the bedrock for his success in recovery.
The leadership at Harvest House saw Josh’s potential, even if it took Josh some time to see it. About eight months into the program, he successfully wrote his GED exam and earned his high school equivalency. Having dropped out of high school with only one credit, this was a huge benchmark for Josh.
“The GED was the first thing I had set my mind to do sober and accomplished,” Josh said. But the GED was just the start.
In January 2011, Josh began attending Carleton University through their Enriched Support Program. By providing extra support, this program makes it possible for people to attend university even if they don’t have the grades to get in otherwise.
Josh excelled in university. He made the Dean’s list, received awards each year that covered his tuition, earned the highest GPA in the Enriched Support Program, and won Carleton’s Provost Scholar Award.
Throughout his time at Carleton, he was also regularly asked to speak. In his second year, he taught a study skills class, and in his third year he was a keynote speaker at Carleton’s orientation day. In 2016, he graduated with an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
Josh says that the training and support he got at Harvest House empowered his success in university. In the months leading up to university, he received training on things like, reading, typing, speaking in public, studying, and notetaking. Throughout his time in university, he continued to live in Harvest House’s secondary stage housing and participate in recovery meetings.
Paying it Forward
After getting married in 2016, Josh moved to Florida with his wife, Andrea. Today, he is 12 years sober and a huge part of his life involves taking everything he learned at Harvest House and passing it on
to others. In 2017, he started a business as a life coach and in 2019 he began teaching remotely at Harvest House.
The two main courses he teaches are Celebrate Recovery and goal-setting. In Celebrate Recovery, Josh uses his experiences of addiction and recovery to teach residents the tools they need to stay sober and change their lives. In goal-setting, he tries to impart the same lesson that made such a difference in his own life: a bright future is possible for every man who walks through the door at Harvest House.
Josh is living proof that transformation is possible and potential is never limited by the past.