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John's story

"The unique insights drawn from the deviant contributing factors of my life, and the true overcoming of them, entwined with a sterling academic foundation has provided me with an exceptional insight and understanding of substance misuse and the related variables. As evidenced in my own life, I believe that those facing the challenge of substance misuse and life dysfunction can be guided to achieve the success of overcoming and life redemption through education, a good support network, and a personal desire to rise up from within. I have a passion that burns within me to educate others, be they clients or other professionals, of how this may be accomplished."



My life in short:

  • I was born to an Irish Catholic mother and English Protestant Father in Cheshire, England 1956, and resided there for first 18 months of my life.

  • In 1958 my family emigrated to Canada.

  • When I was only 7 years of age my father abandoned our family, leaving my mother to raise 4 children on her own, in a strange country and with no family to reach out to for assistance.

  • Consequently I spent the remainder of my youth in the 'inner-city' of Toronto, the slums of “Cabbagetown”.

  • My mother coped through escapism in alcohol and benzodiazepine addiction. She became very aggressive and violent when under the influence of alcohol, I the recipient of it, on a regular basis.

  • At 12 years of age, my younger sister aged 10 died in my arms of a cancerous tumour of the brain.

  • Shortly afterwards I was recruited into a local street gang at age 12, began misusing substances and was first introduced to trafficking in illegal substances when older gang members would use the younger ones to transport drugs.

  • At the age of 13, the Family Courts gave legal guardianship of my care to my elder sister, Joan, with the understanding that I would be moving out of Cabbagetown and away from my negative peer influences to reside with Joan and her young family in the suburbs. In hindsight I believe I was already damaged goods by this point. Throughout her life my sister Joan sacrificed a great deal for me, and supported me through some of my darkest days.

  • I was fully immersed into the criminal drug subculture by age 16, drug dealing and misusing substances on a daily basis.

  • I was first arrested for trafficking L.S.D. (trips/blotters) to an undercover policeman in 1975 and by 1976, after a series of criminal charges and convictions, began my first penitentiary sentence of incarceration of 4 years.

  • Throughout 1979, I was involved with the importation and distribution of cocaine from Fort Lauderdale USA to Toronto Canada which lead to being arrested at Detroit International Airport whilst carrying highly pure cocaine flying back from Fort Lauderdale USA.

  • Psychologically, heavily reliant on cocaine, I went on an aggressive suicidal mission of not caring of what happened to me which resulted in a subsequent arrest in June 1980 for the killing of a drug gang member.

  • The victim had strong underworld connections and ties with high-ranking members of the Satan's Choice Motorcycle Gang which ultimately led to certain high-ranking members holding a vendetta towards me.

  • In July 1981, I was convicted of first degree murder which carries an automatic 25 years sentence before parole consideration.

  • My life of escapism through addiction and rebelling against authority figures continued until I met a a high ranking prison official in 1984, Mr. John Neely, a man of integrity, compassion and Christian faith.

  • In 1988 I got married to Janine in Millhaven Maximum Security Institution. In the years that followed, whilst participating in the "Private Family Visiting Programme", God blessed us with 2 beautiful children, Samuel and Nicole.

  • In 1989, Mr. Neely lent support to my transfer request from a maximum security prison to one of medium security and one more focused on rehabilitation.

  • In the universe's ironic humour, I reunited with a past close friend, a former gang leader and criminal mentor, who was now participating in post secondary educational pursuits and who convinced me that the only way to unlock the shackles of our past is through our understanding of why we did the things we did, and how to not to repeat the patterned behaviour - the "key" being through the self-understanding of education and character change developed through moral and ethical commitment.

  • In February 1990, I made a personal commitment of faith to Christianity and in March of that same year, I began my academic pursuit of freedom.

  • In 1997, I received 4 years off of my original sentence for exemplary behaviour during my “judicial review” and was transferred to a minimum security prison.

  • In 2001, I graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.A. in Sociology while still in prison and was then ordered to be deported from Canada and arrived in the UK that same year.

  • in 2001 Janine, Samuel and Nicole joined me in the UK. Unfortunately, due to a marital breakdown in 2003 they relocated back to Canada. I will carry the pain of missing my children to the grave.

  • Since 2003 up until the present I have been working as a professional in the substance misuse field on various levels - please see Resume.

  • In 2007 I authored/collated a five-session 'Alcohol Pre-Detox' Program that evidenced the success rate through the partnership between Huxlow House (NHS) and CAN Corby office. The success rate for clients went from 30% to 80% over a one-year period - 2006-2007.

  • The Pre-Detox Program was deemed so successful by CAN's Senior Management Team that they introduced it in a further two offices.

  • In 2009 I launched my company "Prisoner 2 Professional" specialising in substance misuse teaching seminars and motivational speaking.

To bullet point one’s life seems to have it literally flash in front of one’s eyes. When, as a professional I review so many of the negative contributing variables from my life, I can come to no other conclusion that it was “almost” impossible for my early life to turn out any other way. But I have survived to be able to tell you that it isn’t how we start the race that matters, but rather how we finish it that really counts! That through my educational achievements and the balance and harmony that I have found in my Christian faith, I truly know that life is a journey, not a destination!


John Hogan today

"...through my educational achievements and the balance and harmony that I have found in my Christian faith, I truly know that life is a journey, not a destination!"