Surviving Addiction, Alumnus Grace D Shares Her Powerful Story
March in British Columbia Canada is typically known for its grey skies, cold weather and rain. Lots of rain. But on this particular day in March of 1997, a woman named Grace wasn’t focused on the storm clouds outside her window. She was fighting for her life.
Grace grew up in a strict Pentecostal home. Her parents didn’t drink, smoke or party. Grace admits it was pretty dull and when she took her first drink at 13 years of age, Grace fell in love.
Grace says alcohol made her feel pretty, funny and free. While her friends had a few drinks, Grace finished off the bottle. She had no stop button, and the euphoric pleasure Grace first experienced turned to something darker. Grace says she started blacking out. Her friends described her as ‘scary.’ Sober, Grace was a loving, compassionate, caring woman. But drugs and alcohol changed all that.
Grace experimented with different drugs buts says her favourite was cocaine. She progressed from snorting cocaine to smoking crack and continued drinking heavily. During that period in her life, Grace describes herself as an angry, aggressive woman. Grace worked in the prison system as a federal correctional officer and admits she was two people. Nine to five she worked to uphold the law, and in her free time, she broke it.
Treatment center number one came in 1996. There Grace met someone who took her mind off her problems. In spite of the warnings, Grace and her new love hooked up. It didn’t last. Rehab romance is never a good thing and before long Grace was back to her old ways. When the relationship ended Grace says “things got really bad.” Grace states she went from problematic to out of control
In December of 1996 Grace’s life and the lives of another family changed forever. Grace’s voice lowers in sorrow as her story unfolds. Grace says she was on her way to visit a male friend when someone threw a rock at her car. Grace stopped and got out of her vehicle prepared to fight. Only there was no rock. As Grace took in the scene, she was horrified.
A senior woman lay on the cement in front of her. Grace says it’s a blur, but someone called 911, and the police came. Grace went through the motions in shock. She blew 0.8 the legal limit and was charged with dangerous driving. Grace didn’t know how to deal with her feelings of guilt and anguish and describes that moment as the worst day of her life.
Grace thought she was on her way to jail. Instead, she got a letter in the mail saying the crown had dropped her charges down to the motor vehicle act of undo care and attention.
March of 97 Grace entered treatment center number two at the Edgewood treatment centre in Nanaimo. As Grace pauses to wipe tears from her eyes, she says she was a mess. The ghost of Grace’s lady still sits on her shoulder. I can feel her in the room with us, and my heart is heavy.
A moment of silence passes and then Grace goes on. Everyone said I had a problem, but I didn’t believe them. My parents planned an intervention. They spoke with the admissions team, and everything was in place. The admissions staff guided my parents through the entire process. I was sitting in my apartment alone, smoking crack, at the end of my rope. It had come down to this; end my life or save it. There was no middle ground. I knew I was at the end of this thing. Death was near, I could feel it.
I phoned work and asked for a medical leave and then told my parents I was ready. I didn’t want to go to treatment. I was angry I had to be there. I didn’t like the staff. I didn’t like the food. I didn’t like my counselor. I hated everyone but most of off all, I hated me.
I was not an easy patient. It was recommended I go to extended care. I was compliant, I went through the motions, but I always held a part of myself back.
I completed Edgewood in June of 97. I didn’t follow my aftercare plan. I went back to the old familiar people/places/things and I relapsed-again. One day I was sitting in my apartment, and counselor Dale Burke called. She asked me how I was doing, and I told her not great.
I went back to Edgewood. This time I followed all the suggestions. I moved to Nanaimo and made recovery my job. I can truthfully say, my life began at Edgewood.
A few years later I fell in love, got married and moved to Fort Nelson where I had two beautiful boys. My youngest son fought for his life. My baby wouldn’t see. He wouldn’t hear. He wouldn’t eat. He has facial palsy. He would need a trachea tube to breathe and a feeding tube to eat. My son had no balance, and yet he learned to walk.
I prayed my son would gain sight and a miracle happened. My son could see. My baby has charge syndrome, but he can see. If my child could overcome such adversity, surely I could too.
I used to say why me? Why was I an addict? Why did I have to struggle so?
Now I understand.
I look at my sons today, and my past makes sense. Yes, there are some hard days, but nothing compares to the hopelessness of living your life controlled by drugs or alcohol. If you’re struggling with addiction, know there’s a better way to live. There is hope, and you can have a fantastic future if you give recovery a chance. All you have to do to start your new life is reach out for help and follow directions.
If you or someone you know needs help please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1800-683-0111.