17 Sep Sam’s Story – Vancouver Intervention
I grew up in a very close loving family on a five acre hobby farm on the outskirts of Vancouver, BC. We never went without food, clothing or toys and there was no abuse to speak of. I never saw my parents drunk or fighting. I never saw the damage alcohol or drugs can do to a person or a family growing up. My parents loved being parents and did the best they could for us. My two younger siblings and I were happy kids and we had nothing to worry about. My parents made sure of that. We were kids who were allowed to be just that. Kids!
The only difference growing up between my siblings and me was that I was adopted. I was adopted as a newborn baby and the truth was never kept from me. It was a private adoption arranged in North Vancouver, BC. My parents had had two miscarriages when they met a teenage mom through their family doctor. The teenage mom felt she was too young to give me a good life so she decided to give me up to the parents who raised me. I’m sure she made a very hard choice in doing so but I am grateful today that she decided to give me up. Shortly after my adoption my parents were able to get pregnant and have my brother and then my sister.
Growing up I craved more attention than other kids around me and I was always made to feel extra special by my parents (especially my father). Almost to a fault. My attention seeking behaviour often got me in trouble. I had ADHD but it was not officially diagnosed and treated until I was 17. My parents never wanted me to feel different and for the most part in my early years I never did. I was outgoing and talkative. Occasionally kids at school would make fun of me for being adopted but that was about it. Back then I could dish it back as well as I could take it. As I got older though my confidence started to dissipate. Feelings of fear and rejection started kicking in. I started to feel out of place no matter where I was. I wanted so badly to fit in with other groups of kids that I thought were popular and had it all. To me everyone else looked like they were just naturally having an easy time with life and I was just awkward and anxious. By grade 6 a bully had picked up on my weaknesses and made it her mission to terrorize me. My parents didn’t understand what I was going through and I was constantly in trouble at school so the teachers weren’t there for me either. I felt scared, alone and abandoned. There was a pit of anxiety in my stomach I couldnt get rid of. Looking back counselling or early intervention could have really helped me at that point and maybe could have avoided the next few years of struggling for me.
My parents got divorced the summer before I started grade 8. My mom moved my sister and I to the suburbs and moved her alcoholic drug using boyfriend in with us. I really liked him because he gave my friends and I money and beer. He took us on road trips, to dude ranches and to country clubs. To me he was super fun and exciting. My brother stayed with my dad in another area of Vancouver and I didn’t see much of them. There were rules at my dad’s house that I could not abide by when my mom let me pretty much do whatever I wanted to do. My mom had started drinking too and was so caught up with her new man and her new career as a real estate agent she wasn’t home much at all. I ran wild! I was even given my own basement suite in our home that I could sneak friends in and out of easily (mostly boys) since I was alone for the most part. I was to be watching my little sister but I could barely take care of myself at 13 so she ended up at my dad’s a lot. I threw parties all the time or just never came home. I was binge drinking and getting myself into demoralizing situations. I was blacking out all the time and was often giving myself alcohol poisoning. I was putting myself and my little sister in danger. People were coming into our house and stealing our stuff. I was being promiscuous with strangers. Sex started to become a way for me to feel powerful or in control of myself. When I look back it was love I was craving but I mistook sex for love. I thought I could keep boys in my life and they would love me forever and never leave me if I gave them my body. But all my sexual behaviour did was give me a reputation at school and give me more bullies. I could deal with those bullies now and the heartbreak of constantly being used and dumped though because I had found alcohol and it was my savior! Nothing mattered when I had a few drinks in me. I finally had found a solution for my fear and anxiety. I could escape “me” and be whoever I wanted to be. It gave me courage and freedom from my thoughts and doubts. I felt like I had “arrived” and the world was my oyster. Soon after though came the drugs and that was a brand new monkey on my back I couldn’t just shake off.
My addiction I believe has always been there waiting to be released. Perhaps it was part of having ADHD that was left untreated or perhaps I was born just wired differently. Maybe it was deep abandonment issues from being adopted that I never dealt with. Who knows. If I get honest with myself and look back over my life I think I’ve always been addicted to something. Early on sugar was my drug. I would sneak into the pantry as a kid and eat spoonfuls of honey and guzzle as much pop as I could. I always had to have more. More of anything that made me “feel good”. I started smoking at 12, drinking and experimenting with sex at 13, then I was onto hard drugs by 15. It was the drugs that took me down in the end. By grade 12 when I was 18 I knew I had a problem and needed to get my life in order. I was basically living on my own in and out of my car or friends houses. I was stealing and pawning stuff to support my addiction to cocaine and speed (meth). I didn’t want to end up on the streets and I knew I couldn’t keep going like this. I made a choice.
My solution was probably not the smartest choice but at the time I knew nothing about real recovery so I did the best I could with the limited knowledge I had. My parents had no idea what an intervention was or what to do to help me . My relationship with both my parents was really strained at this point so it was all up to me. I saw friends who only smoked weed and they seemed content so maybe weed could help me? I had never liked weed. It was too much of a downer for this party girl but I figured if I could get off the booze and hard drugs by using weed then I would smoke it until I did like it and that’s exactly what happened.
My boyfriend (who ended up becoming my first husband years later) and I moved to Vancouver Island, BC as soon as grade 12 ended. We found a cottage to rent, I got two jobs to support us and I started upgrading my schooling that summer. I was determined. I kept busy and rarely got drunk or used hard drugs but between the two of us we were smoking a quarter of weed a day so I was certainly not clean. Nevertheless I went to college for Hospitality Management and my school sent me on a co-op experience to a hotel in Whistler. I failed that semester at college (probably due to the weed) so I decided to stay in Whistler at my hotel job and climb the corporate ladder from there. My boyfriend joined me in Whistler and we soon married and bought a starter home in Squamish. I got a good job in group sales and was doing very well. Everyone was proud of me and thought my life had done a complete 360 from where I was just a couple of years before.
Deep down though I felt something was missing or something was wrong with me. I still felt different. Out of place. I had no idea what to do now that I had built this life I so desperately wanted for myself. I had a good career, a happy marriage, a home I owned. Why didn’t I feel complete? Maybe I needed a baby? I always wanted to be a mom. My husband wasn’t ready for that though; I probably wasn’t either. I also wanted to go travelling but we didn’t have any money as we spent everything we made. We still had the personalities of addicts and were quite immature when it came to finances. I felt stuck and bored which is not a good place for an addict to be.
I decided to give myself a summer of fun. I figured after that summer we’d be ready to settle down and have a baby. I slowly started to take invites to parties in Whistler and Vancouver that I normally wouldn’t have gone too. I was going to nightclubs and joining colleagues at apres ski time (minus the skiing part). I started drinking heavily again and using cocaine to balance out the drinking. With cocaine I could drink more and not be slurring or feel sick. It wasn’t long before I was showing up for work with the scent of whiskey leaking from my pores in the same suit I wore the day before because I never went home. I was calling in sick and lying to everyone all the time. I was taking stress leaves and sleeping around with and without my husband. I was blacking out and waking up in places I had no idea how I had got there. I was hanging out with escorts, selling drugs and picking up strangers in clubs. I was drinking in my car on my lunch break and sleeping in the bathroom at work any chance I could get. I rarely slept at this point more than an hour or two a night and that was with the help of heavy duty sleeping pills. I was falling downhill fast and now that the ball was rolling again I couldn’t stop it. I left my husband for another man who ended up being abusive and was deep in addiction like myself. I got fired from my job and turned to escorting to make ends meet. The debts I was piling up were so atrocious although our home had tripled in value the bank was foreclosing on us. My ex-husband wanted nothing to do with me and I was avoiding my family in Vancouver. I was a lost and lonely soul.
I needed to stop this cycle but it felt hopeless and I had no idea how to do that. I was going to psychiatrists who would diagnose me as bipolar or manic depressive. I had ADHD and anxiety. I never took any of the meds they gave me properly and I was never truthful about the amount of drugs I was consuming so I don’t think I ever got a proper diagnosis. I didn’t want to be honest about my drug use because I didn’t want them to tell me that the drugs were the problem. I needed my drugs to function (although in reality I had stopped functioning a long time before seeking psychiatric help). I thought I could change my friends, do yoga, change locations but nothing was helping me slow down or give me the desire to quit using. One night after my boyfriend kicked me out again and police were involved without domestic disputes I finally told my family who had long suspected my drug problem what was going on. There was no going back. Everyone knew the truth now. I had to leave my abusive boyfriend which was an addiction in itself. I couldn’t just break ties with him no matter how much pain the relationship was causing me. I felt I needed him to live. My dad came to Whistler and moved me back in with him but that wasn’t the end of it. I was still sneaking off to Whistler to visit my ex and still using drugs and drinking even at my dads. I was stealing from my dad and cashing my RRSP savings to pay back drug dealers. I was constantly juggling to keep my addiction afloat and my secrets safe. My dad had no idea what to do with me. He was so stressed out but refused to give up on me. My relationship with my mom was very strained and she was living in the USA anyways. I would only call her to beg for money and scream at her if she refused. I wish my parents had brought a Vancouver interventionist into our life back then because I needed someone to show me how to recover. I needed a solution and consequences. No amount of begging and love from my family was going to save me. I needed a real treatment or rehabilitation centre.
I tried going to AA and NA meetings and I’d make it a week or even a couple months without using drugs or alcohol then I’d pick up again. Eventually, on my 30th birthday I walked into a cheap public rehab facility for a 60 day program. I stayed the full 60 days and the centre did help introduce me to recovery but at that 60 day marker I celebrated my accomplishment with a martini with my abusive ex boyfriend who had come back into my life. The rehab facility I went to only touched on my issues and we never got that deep. There were no professionals or doctors working there, just other addicts who had taken short certificate programs to learn how to be supportive and caring for the next addict coming in. It was not an individualized private treatment program. I feel because I was not homeless, smoking crack or using heroin I was given less support. I think they figured I’d just be ok in the long run as I had family to fall back on, no kids and there were others worse off than me in the centre. Little did they know.
After getting out I travelled around BC with my boyfriend, I continued meetings a little and kept away from the cocaine for a couple of months “only” drinking and smoking weed. Soon though my will power became non-existent and the hard drugs came back. Any money I had was gone, my erratic behavior started up again along with the domestic fighting and promiscuity. The boyfriend left me again and I was alone and depressed more than I ever felt before. It was a whole new low. One night after drinking and using heavily I decided enough was enough and swallowed a bottle of tylenol. I ended up in the hospital on suicide watch. My family was devastated and completely baffled about what to do with me. They had sent me to what they thought was the only treatment option available so how could it have failed me?
Being in the hospital opened my eyes. When I got out of that hospital I made a commitment to myself that I didn’t want to die and wanted to do everything I could to get my life back and be free from the chains of addiction. I had had a taste of that freedom in my treatment centre so I knew it was possible. I knew how good it could feel to be sober. I immediately went back to my meetings because in those rooms people understood me and I felt safe there. I also got a counsellor that specializes in addiction. My drug and alcohol counsellor in Vancouver dug deeper into my trauma and helped me create boundaries. I learned to love myself without having to be in a relationship. She gave me tools to use to avoid having to pick up substances ever again.
At one of my first NA meetings I met a man named Andy. Andy had a couple of years of sobriety and was kind and supportive. He made me laugh and kept me busy before and after the meetings. I needed some simple happiness and true friends in my life and Andy was just what I needed. I introduced him to my dad whom I was back living with and my dad asked him to do whatever he could to keep me sober. My dad was always checking in with Andy and making sure I was on the right track. Andy would call me every day, take me to meetings, introduce me to healthy recovered women and invite me to social events. I was never bored and always felt cared for in Andy’s presence. I put one foot in front of the other and with support and counselling I was able to get true long term recovery. As for Andy he too is living his best sober life and went on to become a certified professional interventionist in Vancouver. He now helps hundreds of addicts and their families across Canada.
Today I have over 10 years of sobriety. I got my dream job as a flight attendant traveling the world. I found my perfect match with a man also in long term recovery and we married. We have a daughter now, two little dogs, and a beautiful home in Vancouver, BC. I’ve even met my birth parents while in recovery. I’ve made amends to the people I hurt in my addiction. I’ve dealt with my traumas and stopped using my vices. I have the tools and support I need to live life on life’s terms today and not self-destruct. My dreams came true. The outside stuff I describe is just that “stuff”. It’s the way I feel inside that is the best gift recovery has given me. I feel confident, free, and I love the woman I am today. I don’t need anyone or anything to feel whole. I look forward to the future and I don’t regret my past because it’s what got me to where I am today.
The Importance of Intervention in Vancouver, BC
It took me most of my teen and adult life to find recovery. Your active addiction story does not have to be as long as mine. With help from an Interventionist (like Andy) you can stop the cycle of addiction in yourself or your loved one a lot quicker.
A trained interventionist helps families and addicts work together towards a solution. The goal is to help your loved one understand they need help and then get them enrolled in an accredited addiction treatment program in Vancouver (or elsewhere). Using an Interventionist gives an addict a much better success rate. Despite the fear that some families have of confronting their loved one, this is the best way to intervene. You won’t be doing it alone as the professional interventionist will walk you or your family through every step of the way.
If you need assistance we provide emergency Interventions in Vancouver within 48 hrs. call toll free at 1-888-988-5346.
Getting clean and getting your life back doesn’t happen overnight and not all people are excited about going to treatment. Trained interventionist professionals know how to handle the reservations you or your loved one may have. They will be there to guide and support you and your family through this process. To find out how they can help or to get started please call 1-888-988-5346 and let’s get you and your family freedom.