How this Hamilton man overcame addiction and homelessness to reunite his family

Daniel Schutt sits near his wife Sarah Schutt in a warm residing area within a townhome in Fort Erie, Ont.

He leans ahead in his chair, sticks his correct leg out and pulls his pant leg up, revealing a scar that cuts as a result of his colourful tattoos.

The scar is a permanent reminder of the existence he and Sarah managed to escape — a existence on the streets of Hamilton he describes as being eaten by habit and surrounded by violence.

“I have never ever felt this excellent in all of my adult daily life,” Daniel claimed.

He and Sarah are sharing their story to support people understand drug habit, homelessness and how they still left it all at the rear of.

The path to addiction

Daniel, 42, reported he begun applying medications around 20 decades ago following a break-up with his former fiancée who was expecting with his daughter.

Sarah, 41, explained her drug use stemmed from prescribed painkillers for an incurable long-term health-related ailment that tends to make her bones brittle and has compelled her into extra surgical rooms than she can count. 

They met in 2004 in Narcotics Anonymous and were thriving. They begun residing alongside one another and experienced a few small children, but issues went downhill.

Sarah’s health obtained even worse. Daniel stated he dropped his business enterprise in the 2008 economic downturn and shed make contact with with his daughter.

In 2015, they each begun abusing painkillers just after a string of relatives deaths.

Daniel Schutt, pictured in 2020, earlier reported he was attaining momentum that could get him out of a life with no household, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted his progress. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Two months prior to Xmas in 2018, a fire destroyed their property in Hamilton.

Daniel and Sarah wound up in individual shelters when their sons — today aged 11, 14 and 18 — eventually ended up with Daniel’s father in the Niagara location.

That’s when they met fentanyl.

“We did not use fentanyl right up until we equally thought our children have been gone. It was irreparable,” Daniel stated.

“I would set every drug you could consider of in a spoon devoid of a treatment.”

‘You’re possibly a lion or gazelle out there’

Daniel mentioned he overdosed 18 instances in one thirty day period from the harmful drug provide on the streets.

Facts from the city’s web site demonstrate opioid overdoses have been on the rise, from 450 in 2018 to 814 in 2022.

So far, there have been at least 103 suspected overdoses or drug poisonings in 2023.

At the very same time, shelters haven’t been capable to hold up with the quantity of folks dwelling tough.

The city’s web-site states there were being 1,509 men and women suffering from homelessness in December 2022 but only 515 shelter beds in the town.

Daniel and Sarah said while room is an issue, so is protection. Daniel mentioned he slept with a hatchet in shelters to protect himself.

Living on the street just isn’t protected either, which Daniel stated led him to do unthinkable points.

“The violence is really poor. You’re possibly a lion or gazelle out there,” he claimed. “I might get meth to stay up so I could operate to get opiates so I could sleep a little bit and the cycle would start once again.”

Daniel mentioned he and Sarah also resorted to shoplifting from large box stores to attempt and endure.

In December, 2019 they started traveling to a methadone clinic to aid pull themselves out of the vicious cycle.

Probability to get young children back again was ‘enough to want to try’

It was early in 2020 when CBC Hamilton very first spoke with Daniel, who shared then how restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic held the few separated at distinctive shelters and his fears over extended-time period restoration and the capability to reunite his household. 

Shortly right after even so, Daniel said he and Sarah were being capable to remain alongside one another at a hotel, portion of a program run by Mission Providers for people enduring homelessness.

Dr. Jennifer Brasch, the direct for addictions psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Health care Hamilton, labored with Daniel and served him on the path to recovery.

She explained the resort keep was key for the Schutts because it is “exceptionally tricky” for men and women to get over habit if they’re sleeping on the streets or in open locations of the shelter, without having privacy or safety.

Daniel and Sarah echoed those ideas.

Daniel Schutt, photographed in 2020, stated he overdosed 18 instances within his very to start with thirty day period of making use of fentanyl. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

“In the resort … there are drug offers heading on appropriate in entrance of you. It is really all the same things that retains you trapped in there — other than that we could lock ourselves away,” Daniel claimed.

The other essential factor that the resort stay provided, according to the Schutts, was access to a phone.

Employees from the Children’s Help Society could have direct call with Daniel and Sarah, which gave them a pathway to reunite with their kids.

“The big thing was finding a prospect to have our children back,” Daniel explained. “It was adequate to want to try.”

A scar on a leg.
Daniel Schutt exhibits one particular of the scars he has from drug use. He claimed this scar and other folks are from bacterial infections he acquired whilst using medication. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

In excess of time, they acquired again the have confidence in of their household, remaining the resort and rented reasonably priced housing with the enable of Daniel’s dad.

Daniel sooner or later acquired a career creating recycling bins. Daniel and Sarah moved into a residence in Fort Erie with Daniel’s dad and their 3 sons in November 2020.

Daniel was also ready to begin speaking again with his daughter, now 19, and said he aided her pay for college.

Limitations for people today even now on the avenue

Brasch claimed barriers other folks residing rough deal with include not having supportive buddies or household and not getting accessibility to methadone fairly than employing avenue medicines, which could be a deadly cocktail of substances.

She claimed most folks will not end up with a great final result like Daniel and his household, with only a quarter of people winding up with a comparable content ending.

What men and women can study from Daniel and his family members, Brasch said, is the importance of owning enormous incentives to get cleanse and keep cleanse.

A man sitting on a couch.
Daniel Schutt now lives in Fort Erie, Ont., with his spouse, their a few young ones and his father. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

“They have obligations and commitments and they have a great lifestyle. They never need to escape from fact,” she said.

“We require to obtain strategies to do that for persons who are even now applying…. Men and women can go away the entire world of drug use behind when remaining in reality is better than currently being intoxicated.

“I desire we ended up undertaking a better position at that as a local community.”

Daniel and Sarah’s information is basic — don’t give up.

“Seeing my children thrive, that’s my new higher,” Sarah said.