I Didn’t Want To Die! Counsellor Trevor’s Triumphant Story
Born in Winnipeg Manitoba, to two loving, hard-working, parents, Trevor describes his childhood as a carefree one. He says he was a happy-go-lucky guy who enjoyed hanging out with his friends and consuming alcohol. A twinkle appears in Trevor’s eyes, and he admits, “I was good at it.” Trevor says drinking increased his energy and boosted his confidence. He explains ‘some people can play the piano, well, I could drink!’ And drink he did! Trevor closed down the bars and never experienced hangovers.
In 1993 Trevor attended the University of Victoria to get his bachelor’s degree in psychology. Trevor’s alcohol consumption continued to rise, and when things got rocky in his romantic relationship, he drank to escape his painful emotions. Up until then, drinking was fun, but that all changed when Trevor’s mother got diagnosed with cancer. Trevor’s world fell apart.
As his mother’s health declined, Trevor struggled to cope with his feelings of sadness and despair. He noticed his mother had multiple bottles of oxycodone pain medication and he decided to try one. Within minutes Trevor’s depression disappeared and he felt euphoric. A new pattern emerged. Where alcohol consumption was something Trevor did with his friends, stealing his mother’s opioid medication was secret. He started taking the pills daily and isolating from friends and family.
When Trevor’s mother passed away, he was numb. He remembers gathering his mom’s unused medication and putting it in a garbage bag which he took with him. He says the next year was a blur. Somehow Trevor managed to graduated university, getting his degree in psychology, but he wasn’t the same person anymore. By the time Trevor mother’s medication was gone, he had a serious opioid addiction. Out of pills, Trevor switched to using heroin which he bought on the street.
Heroin took every dime Trevor made. He stopped paying his rent and utilities and three months later he received an eviction notice. Trevor moved into his car. Alone, isolated, Trevor’s only companions were drug dealers, and other addicted persons. He began shooting up in hospital parking lots, near the front entrance doors. Trevor feared dying from an overdose and thought the close proximity to the hospital was his safest option.
It was a strange dichotomy, Trevor admits. One part of him wanted help, the other part wanted to continue using heroin, only he didn’t have the funds to maintain his habit. Needing money, Trevor asked his dad for help. He told his father he was a heroin addict. Trevor entered detox and found ways to continue using opioids. One week later he was out and moving into his dad’s house. Trevor’s father thought he was detoxed and turning over a new leaf in life. Little did he know Trevor’s disease had progressed, hitting a new bottom. Trevor began stealing off his father to support his addiction.
One day on a scheduled visit to his doctor for a refill of methadone, Trevor spoke up. He told his doctor he feared for his life and knew his days were numbered. Trevor’s physician recommended he attend treatment in Nanaimo at the Edgewood treatment center.
On March 20, 2004, Trevor and his father entered Edgewood. Trevor hugged his dad and said goodbye. As he walked down the hallway with the admission coordinator, Trevor was afraid. He feared withdrawal, being in treatment, and he couldn’t imagine his life without drugs and alcohol.
Throughout the detox period, Trevor recalls walking around Edgewood in a fog. He says the staff were amazing and during what should have been his worst days, he felt safe and cared for. As his fog lifted, Trevor noted his peers and took an interest in their progress. He began participating in treatment. Trevor shared his story in group therapy. He worked on assignments. He paid attention in lecture. Trevor noted positive changes taking place in the people around him, and he wanted that for himself.
For the first time in years, Trevor felt hopeful. His time in inpatient treatment gave him the life-saving tools he would need to stay clean and sober. Trevor learned the importance of honesty and each time he told the truth, he took another step in the right direction.
One day in group therapy Trevor thought, ‘I can do this.’ Trevor chuckles as he describes that moment. “I know everyone in treatment wants to be a counsellor, but I dared to dream and believe. I found a new passion and a new path”. Trevor was no longer interested in scoring heroin. He wanted to give back and help people, the way Edgewood had helped him.
Trevor graduated Edgewood and continued doing the next right thing. He followed his aftercare plan, attended meetings, worked the steps and built a large circle of new friends who were also clean and sober.
In September 2015 Trevor’s dream of helping others came true. He began working at Edgewood. He knew he had something to offer the patients yet admits those first days as a clinician were challenging. Trevor didn’t want to make a mistake, he didn’t want to let anyone down, and he wanted everyone to have the same experience in treatment that he did.
As an inpatient counsellor, Trevor’s first lesson was to bring his healthiest self to his patients. He was advised to take care of himself first so that he could be there for others. Trevor worked as an inpatient counsellor for one year before being transferred to Edgewood’s phase two program, extended care.
Trevor’s love for his patients is obvious. His eyes light up when he acknowledges, “They’re my people. They get me, and I get them. I sleep well at night knowing I’m making a difference in their lives.”
Last summer Trevor was asked to help out in Edgewood’s inpatient treatment program again. He was more at ease in his role as clinician and brought his best self to the floor. This December Trevor got an early Christmas present when he was asked to head up the Cedar team. Trevor shakes his head in awe, smiles and says, ‘It was such an honour to be asked.”
Once living in his car and shooting up in hospital parking lots, Trevor still can’t believe it. Going to Edgewood saved his life. He’s thankful for his beautiful daughter, Aria, and his supportive father. Trevor ends our interview with a grin adding, “My dad always said he was proud of me, and now I believe him.”
If you would like to learn more about the treatment programs offered by EHN Canada, or if you have any questions about addiction or mental health, please call one of the numbers below. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.
1-866-926-4196 for Bellwood Health Services in Toronto, ON
1-866-946-4101 for Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC
1-866-965-3941 for Clinique Nouveau Depart in Montreal, QC
(866) 828-2981 for Whiterock EHN Canada in Surrey, BC