British Columbia

From star athlete to addiction: a B.C. student's journey

Devin Hinchey was once one of Canada's top young squash players, until drug addiction changed everything.

Devin Hinchey recovered from his drug addiction and wants to give back now as a counsellor

Once a promising young athlete, Devin Hinchey's life was derailed by a serious drug addiction. Now, he's in school to help others. (Devin Hinchey)

When Devin Hinchey was 16 years old, he was one of Canada's top competitive squash players.

Then a serious drug addiction derailed his dream.

"I'm 19 years old and entering rehab," Hinchey told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"I had played on the junior national team for Squash Canada, I had a lot of friends. It was kind of hard to grasp: this is where I'm at right now."

That was then.

Today, Hinchey has been sober for nearly two years and hopes to help others by becoming a counsellor through Vancouver Island University.

Lost count of friends killed

With B.C. experiencing a public health emergency because of a growing overdose crisis, Hinchey needs no reminder of the importance of that work.

Now living in Nanaimo, he said he and his friends in recovery have lost so many people they care about to overdoses, they've lost count.

"It's gotten to the point where once somebody in our recovery community … when they do pass because of an overdose, people don't even ask anymore," he said. "Everyone just knows now. It's fentanyl."

Hinchey said improved awareness about the drug is a good start, but he said people may not know the particular dangers involved for people who relapse.

"We've pushed our bodies to the limit and then we take ourselves right out of that," he said.

"When people go back to that, it can be a snap of a finger and your life is gone."

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: From star athlete to drug addiction: a B.C. student's recovery journey