James Gannaban

James Gannaban

Director of Marketing & Communications, Recovery Advocate

"I am enough. I don’t need to do any of those things to be worthy. I am born to be worthy. "

In 2015, I overdosed on drugs. That day, I was supposed to have a morning meeting with a business partner, but I never showed up, so he came knocking on my door. He found me unconscious on the floor and immediately called for help. When I regained consciousness at the hospital, I was handcuffed to the hospital bed. The police had found drugs in my home, so after spending two days in the hospital, I was sent to jail.

Before my overdose, I told myself that since I could still manage, go to work, maintain relationships, I must not be an addict. Sure, I was lying to my friends and I would disappear for days at a time, but I still didn't think things were that bad. But when that happened, there was no denying that something needed to change. I nearly lost my right eye when I fell unconscious; I was in trouble with the law and risked a minimum six year sentence; I didn't have any money and hadn't paid my taxes in two years; I had overdosed and nearly died.

It's hard to pinpoint when it all started going downhill. I had my first taste of alcohol at 12. When I left home and went to university, I drank a lot and partied hard. When I moved to Hong Kong at 23, I wanted to make friends in this new city, so I thought it would be cool to take drugs. It seems to me that taking drugs is normalised in Hong Kong – it’s not only tolerated, it’s encouraged.

I was extremely lucky to have friends and family who helped me to get a lawyer and get me to rehab. I ended up in Chiang Mai, where I discovered yoga. In rehab, it was so hard to face my issues and all that I had been suppressing with drugs and alcohol all this time. I found that yoga helped me come to a place of serenity. Doing yoga became my therapy.

Coming back to Hong Kong after rehab was a struggle. I didn't have any money, so I was staying with a friend. I needed to find a job, but it was challenging to explain the gap in my resume. Everywhere I went, I would be reminded of my partying days. My legal case also took over a year to resolve. I struggled with all of these things, but I held onto my yoga practice by going to all the yoga studios in Hong Kong that offered free trial classes.

I'm over six years sober now. That moment, when I overdosed, gave me the gift of desperation. In yoga, we say that pain is a message. In addition, if something isn't painful enough, you won't seek change. That was my moment of pain.

My drug use came from a place of loneliness and feeling not good enough. I took drugs to be funny, entertaining, and to be someone that people would love to be around. Now I know that I don't need to do anything to be worthy, I was born worthy!


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