As a young child, Mike Loughman was told that he was a lost cause. He spent 22 years battling addiction with that thought in his mind.

Growing up in Airdrie, Loughman wanted to be a police officer or a kindergarten teacher. School wasn’t the kindest place for Loughman, as he had troubles in junior and senior high with blackout rages and bullying.

“You get told by your peers ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you so stupid?’ and then you start believing those things, maybe I am actually stupid or a moron. I knew something deep inside of me that there was something wrong but I didn’t know how to express it,” says Loughman.Loughman with fellow speaker and former NHL player, Theo Fleury at the Thumbs up Foundation golf tournament earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Mike Loughman.

He was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of ten, but this was only the beginning of his problems.

After being told he was a lost cause by his high school guidance counselor, he ran away from home. He turned to drugs, alcohol, violence and drug dealing. He even spent a year and a half living on the streets.

“I led a double life for 22 years. I was a heavy alcoholic, heavy cocaine user and I hid it from my family and from everybody except my group of friends,” says Loughman.

In 2013, Loughman’s father had him see a psychologist. Her assessment had concluded that he was bipolar and had four learning disabilities. The medications helped him but, still being addicted to alcohol and cocaine, the medicine would wear off after a while.

He had a breakdown. He tried to overdose and spent the night in the emergency room. After he was released, he went to the liquor store and found some drugs. The morning after he was still under the influence and contemplated killing himself. He called the police, scared that he was going to do it.

He stayed at the Peter Lougheed Centre for seven days. Soon after his stay he went to Action North Recovery Centre for the 28-day program. Now a graduate of the program, he does talk at schools to help kids understand addictions and mental health.

“I don’t want this to happen to any other kids,” says Loughman. If his mental health never got sorted, he’d still be living a double life. “I want to talk to kids about drinking and drugs.”

After changing his life around, he now works as an advocate for mental health, even though he still struggles with addiction. He strives to raise awareness for mental health issues by spreading positivity and growth in the mental health community.Loughman having fun at the 2016 Unmask mental health fundraiser earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Mike Loughman.

A few weeks before one of his fundraisers, Loughman had a massive panic attack. The normal exercises and techniques didn’t work and he ended up spending 15 days in the Peter Lougheed Centre. He continued to do radio interviews and talked to patients about mental health. Ten hours before his fundraiser, he was released. He managed to get 150 people to show up and together they raised $9,000.Loughman and friend, Tiana Krahn speaking at Airdrie Air 106.1. Photo courtesy of Mike Loughman.

“I’ve had people calling me that heard me on the radio from my past telling me that they want me to tell them? how to get help. Even strangers have been doing it,” says Loughman.

He continues to do talks and fundraisers whilst trying to pursue a career in broadcasting. He pitches ideas to the local radio stations, works with Air 106.1’s Kevin Wallace and speaks to people currently in treatment, along with kids in schools.

“I am a man on a mission to do all of these things,” says Loughman.

cpaton@cjournal.ca

The editor for this piece is Bigoa Machar and can be reached at bmachar@cjournal.ca.