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From Turmoil to Tuakana: The transformation of Ricky Falconer

From Turmoil to Tuakana: The transformation of Ricky Falconer

Ricky Falconer, a man who spent years battling addiction, transformed his life with support from Tui Ora, and is now both an example and a beacon of hope for others facing similar struggles.

Growing up surrounded by challenges that led him into a life of addiction to alcohol and drugs, Ricky’s life took a dark turn when he landed in jail after a violent incident.

“I was drinking every day and got into a fight that put someone in a coma,” he recalls.

His struggle with addiction began in his youth, with what he describes as ‘a chaotic upbringing’

Where alcohol was a daily fixture. It wasn’t long before he started using drugs and things spiraled out of control, leading to dangerous behavior and legal troubles.

But ending up in jail turned out to be a positive move as he joined the Te Ihu Waka programme, which helps reconnect people with Te Ao Māori, and then reached out to Tui Ora for support to change his life.

Ricky credits the Tui Ora Alcohol and Drug Recovery service for giving him the skills to transform his mindset, replacing negative behaviors with positive actions. “I learned tools to manage my emotions and change my core beliefs,” he said.

“I had a very ‘eye for an eye’ mentality. The programme taught me to shift my perspective and focus on positive energy.”

“It’s been over a year since I had a drink. I’ve learned to be positive and consider the impact of my actions on others.”

While jail gave him the opportunity for change,  his relationship with his son has helped him to make that change a permanent way of life. Now a full-time dad, he took on the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, providing a stable environment for his family, and teaching his son values like honesty and responsibility.

“I want to be a good role model for my son and teach him about the consequences of actions and the importance of telling the truth, even when it’s difficult.”

Ricky’s transformation didn’t only involve a mental shift, also meant a healthier lifestyle and significant weight loss.

“In 2020, I was 160 kilograms. After a year in jail and making conscious efforts to eat healthily and stay active, I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel much better,” he said.

His commitment to fitness and well-being has had a big impact on his overall outlook on life.

“I started growing my own vegetables and focused on eating fresh, healthy foods. It’s been a major lifestyle change.” He also takes his son on long bike rides on the weekends.

His journey to sobriety and health has also brought financial challenges.

“I went from having thousands of dollars from dealing to having to stretch my benefit from one period to the next,” he said.

“I developed a personal reward system where I treat myself with online shopping, mostly Nike, and it keeps me motivated to stay on track.”

The cultural connections he forged in prison stay strong as he is working at Owae Marae with the carving restorations, and is also a Tuakana for the Te Ihu Waka programme.

“Being around positive influences and staying connected to cultural roots has enriched my life,” he says.

“It’s a continuous journey, but one worth taking. I want to be the one to show people that change is possible, and it’s worth it.”

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