Joe 'Shoeboogieman' Roberts is a former drug addict who spoke to a gym full of high school students at Sardis secondary on Wednesday.

Students gain lesson on healthy living

Joe Roberts’ parents had no forewarning their son would end up a junkie in his teens.

He came from a perfectly stable, middle class home. His dad worked and his mom was a stay-at-home, caring mom. And yet, at 19, Roberts was a dropout living under the Georgia Street viaduct, peddling for dimes by day, shooting heroin by night.

Joe Roberts’ parents had no forewarning their son would end up a junkie in his teens.

He came from a perfectly stable, middle class home. His dad worked and his mom was a stay-at-home, caring mom. And yet, at 19, Roberts was a dropout living under the Georgia Street viaduct, peddling for dimes by day, shooting heroin by night.

“There were no warning signs whatsoever that said this guy was going to grow up to be a junkie, a heroin addict,” he told a gym full of high school students recently.

“I’m not a teacher, I’m not social worker, I’m not a police officer. I’m just a guy who shouldn’t be here today with a message of what I did wrong.”

As part of Sardis secondary’s annual Healthy Living Day on April 27, approximately 30 presenters talked to students on topics that covered healthy eating and weight training, mental health, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, healthy relationships, etc..

The purpose of Healthy Living Day was to help students be better informed and prepared to make healthy choices in their lives.

Roberts was the keynote speaker, bringing with him a tale of drugs that was anything but cool.

“I thought I was young and had lots of time to make mistakes,” he said. “For years nothing happened, nobody dropped dead, nobody went to prison, nobody got shot at, nobody got HIV/AIDS. But by the time I was 18, my choices were catching up to me. I had been to five times as many funerals as I had weddings.”

Roberts’ reliance on drugs started when he was nine years old out of self-loathing. He didn’t think he measured up to his peers, and didn’t like the person looking back at him in the mirror. On drugs, his self-image became more acceptable.

“It wasn’t peer pressure, it was self pressure,” he said. “I wanted badly to fit in and when the opportunity presented itself, I did it.”

By 15, he was a runaway; 16, he was getting in trouble with the law; 18, he was living on the streets.

“I wasn’t a bad kid, I was just doing dumb things,” he said. “And in two years, I went from being a street kid on Granville Street bumming for change to a degenerate heroin addict and crack head living under the Georgia Street viaduct.”

By his mid-20s Roberts was able to turn his life around. He went through detox and rehab, went back to school, started college and today he’s a motivational speaker.

“Today my life is a dream,” he said, showing the crowd of teenagers a picture of his family. “But I am an anomaly, an exception to the case. Most of the people I knew who walked that path, who made those same mistakes, they are not even here to tell their stories today. But I am.

“The choices you make today will ultimately determine where you are five to six years from now,” he said. “And often you don’t get second chances.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

Just Posted

Unique treasures to be found at Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market

The 44th annual event is the Chilliwack Community Arts Council’s largest fundraiser

Chilliwack toy drive brings in gifts, money to Ann Davis Transition Society

People dropped by Superstore to donate toys and more for those in need this holiday season

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Nov. 18 to 24

Chilliwack RCMP find chemicals and cannabis extract in illicit lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Chilliwack RCMP seek suspects in rash of poppy donation box thefts

Incidents at four different locations in Sardis in the days leading up to Remembrance Day

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

Most Read