Danny Shannon lived the life of a criminal, addicted to ice and heroin and in and out of prison. But he’s turned that all around.
Danny Shannon doesn’t remember a particular “rock bottom” because for 10 years it was all bad.
The 45-year-old had been addicted to ice and heroin and was in and out of jail for drug-related offences.
He stole cars, broke into houses, and got chased by police.
In his most epic chase of all, he made it from Sydney’s Silverwater prison, all the way to Perth.
“I was participating in a religious program so of an evening, maybe 50 of us (prisoners) would be in the visiting area,” he said.
“I was just going down for the coffee and biscuits. I had been in that jail for some time and I knew one spot where there was a bit you could climb up on the fence.
“At the end of the group we climbed the fence.”
A report in The Daily Telegraph about the escape described how Mr Shannon, then aged 25, and Patrick Page, then 32, used garbage bin handles and rags to scale a five metre razor-wire topped fence.
Inspector Geoff Airs said the escape was “like watching something from an old movie”.
Danny Shannon was addicted to drugs for a decade.
Now he helps others overcome their addictions.
Mr Shannon said he could not believe they got away.
“It was actually an amazing escape,” he said.
“We swam across a shark infested Parramatta River, bleeding, with the water police on our tail. It was a big chase, but I got away.
“We were in these thick mangroves. I was in mud up to my neck for two hours and they couldn’t see us.”
Mr Shannon managed to avoid capture for six days.
His issues with drugs had started years earlier when he fell into trouble at 14.
Mr Shannon first started with heroin before progressing to ice and had a full blown addiction as a teen, spending his 18th birthday in Parramatta prison.
The father of three overdosed several times and had to be revived by paramedics.
“There was quite a lot of those occasions where, by some miracle, I would know to walk somewhere where someone would find me,” he said.
“My rock bottom kind of went for a solid 10 years.
“There was no worse day, there was just 10 years of sh*t.”
Mr Shannon was in and out of prison for years.
He had tried rehab, checking in and out 50 times, mostly to get himself out of jail.
But one day, after taking heroin and ice daily for over 15 years, he finally reached a turning point.
Something clicked and in 2009, Mr Shannon checked into Sydney’s Glebe House and experienced his first day clean since he was a young teenager.
“The stars and planets were aligning for me to turn my life around,” he said.
“I made the decision to never touch drugs again.”
Tuesday marks 11 years since Mr Shannon got clean, which also coincides with his birthday.
Now he’s come up with a way for people to see how far they’ve come.
“My experiences now serve as lessons for others,” he said.
“I now represent a symbol of hope for so many people going through exactly what I did for over a decade.”
Mr Shannon has now created digital time capsules to help other people trying to get sober.
After five years clean, he realised he didn’t know how far he had come.
“I realised I didn’t have anything to connect with regarding what I was like when I first entered treatment,” he said.
“I felt a sense of sadness and grief as I wished I had done something to document my progress.”
The Encapsulator gets people to record where they’re at in their recovery before it gets uploaded to a secure network which locks it and sends it back to your future self on a predetermined future date for reflection.
“I wish I’d had something like this when I was in early recovery,” he said.
“It would have been incredible to see myself transform from a lost and broken individual, to the happy, healthy, grateful man and father I am today.”
Mr Shannon said Encapsulator is now used by rehabilitations centres, businesses and individuals for recovery.