Luke de Leseleuc remembers the day that launched him into seven years of intense and uncontrollable alcohol abuse.
He was in jail when he was told his three-and-a-half-year-old son had passed away.
“The unfortunate thing was that I was sitting in jail because of my alcoholism,” de Leseleuc said.
The news devastated the new father, who turned to alcohol to overcome his grief.
For seven years, he jumped from job to job, drank from morning to night, and eventually found himself in shelters for a few nights.
“I didn’t care. I got myself into trouble. It was a bad place for me to be,” he said.
After getting back on track and being sober for 11 months, de Leseleuc eventually relapsed. One day, he found himself at the corner of Douglas and Yates streets just steps from throwing himself in front of a bus to end his life when a voice inside his head stopped him.
“I was about four or five steps away from being hit by the bus and on the third step a voice inside my head said ‘the cause of your pain shouldn’t be the cause of someone else’s pain. If you do this, you’ll affect the driver (of the bus) and the passengers’,” he said.
De Leseleuc pulled himself back and went to the emergency room. Shortly after, he checked himself into Together We Can Society, an addictions treatment centre in Vancouver.
He has been sober for the past 16 months and now works with BeYouPromise.org, a Victoria-based organization whose mandate is to educate and raise awareness of the benefits of not misusing drugs or alcohol. De Leseleuc is the community outreach co-ordinator and travels to schools to share his story with students and parents.
This year, BeYouPromise.org is launching Dry Jan, an inaugural challenge for Greater Victoria residents to go sober for 31 days. Throughout the month, there will be mini events such as scavenger hunts to keep participants motivated. The event, that originated in the U.K., is a fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation and the Umbrella Society for Addictions and Mental Health.
De Leseleuc said the event is particularly important after the death of eight people in Victoria from suspected overdoses in December.
“For those people who are sitting on the fence and don’t know where they’re at in terms of whether they have an addiction or alcohol problem it could be a good start for them. Thirty-one days is a good start for them to maybe change their life and see their full potential,” said de Leseleuc, adding they’ve had 15 people register so far.
“It’s a shame that I see what’s going on in Victoria. The loss of one life isn’t good. If substance abuse is becoming a problem for somebody then you need to get some help.”
The official launch of Dry Jan is on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the Victoria Royals game at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
To register for the challenge or to donate visit godryjan.com.