Why We Exist
Today he’s one of the top students in his pre-med program but three years ago John’s life was completely different. His dad is a doctor, his mother a nurse, his brother and sister are honours students and so was he. You wouldn’t expect him to be an addict, driving the getaway car for his pals who were robbing pharmacies to get Oxycodone, but there he was. He didn’t get there overnight; and he didn’t come back overnight either – both roads were long and filled with heartache. The road down was a terrifying, lonely freefall and the road back was like an ascent of Everest accompanied by many Sherpas taking many forms.
When John’s family moved to the US years ago his parents were concerned about the quality of schooling and decided to home school their three children. When they moved back to Canada, John was just going into grade 10 and while homeschooling did wonders for his academic record, his social skills … well, they were more than lacking. He felt that he didn’t really fit in anywhere and kept to himself mostly. Eventually some guys invited John to hang with them and he began to feel that he was part of something and not alone. They would smoke and drink, then blaze (smoke pot) and graduated to harder drugs eventually taking the highly addictive Oxycodone and it’s there that his life really began to take a tailspin.
While John started to use Oxy occasionally, he soon came to depend on it and developed an addiction to the drug. As John’s Oxy use increased his school attendance decreased along with his grades that quickly dropped from A’s to D’s and F’s until he dropped out of grade 11 midway through his fall semester. With dwindling resources to support their habit, John and his friends thought it would be a good idea to go directly where their drug of choice was and started robbing pharmacies. What seems to be a good idea to an addict typically is not and their brilliance soon ended with all of them being arrested and charged.
A judge looked at John’s limited criminal history and believed that John was a good person and, had it not been for the addiction that he developed, he would not have done the things that earned him his record.
Embarrassed, dejected and determined to prove to his family that he was the good person that they believed he was, John found Fresh Start Recovery Centre and began his journey on the road to long-term recovery. John enrolled in Fresh Start’s 12-week, 12-Step program, excelled, moved into our second stage program.
John’s family was also determined to understand the disease of addiction and what they could do to help their son’s recovery without enabling him. Both parents enrolled in Fresh Start’s family Healing Program and made a six hour round trip every week for five weeks to attend the two hour classes. Just before one full year into his recovery John thought he’d visit his old friends and share with them how well he was doing and perhaps inspire them. Not having a full appreciation of his vulnerability and not realizing that recovery doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone the visit ended with him giving into peer pressure and blazing with his old pals.
John immediately realized his mistake, left his friends and told his family what had happened.
Embarrassed and dejected John came to back to Fresh Start to pack his things and go to another recovery centre feeling that he had let us down. One of the Fresh Start’s “Sherpas” drove John to the other centre and during the 40 minute drive convinced him to give himself another chance with the realization that addicts are never cured of their disease but – as with other chronic illnesses like diabetes – are able to manage it and enjoy a normal, healthy life.
John ended up coming back to Fresh Start, going on to complete his program for a second time, living in Fresh Start’s supported second and third stage housing while earning his high school equivalency and then pursuing his dream of a career in Medicine.
A few short weeks ago a doctor stood in front of 120 people at one of Fresh Start’s Birthday Celebrations and presented his son with his 2 year medallion and through wavering voice and teary eyes thanked Fresh Start for being by John’s side during his long climb of recovery. He was grateful that John had achieved two years of continuous sobriety and honours standing in his pre-med program.
Who knows, someday in the future the doctor that treats you and perhaps saves your life could be the addict – in recovery – that you helped to save.