“Bullying, self-esteem, mental health issues. Pot was not my problem, it was my solution. Now I’ve found a better way. “

group-therapy-1I want to start by telling you what my life is like today. I have a job, which I go to every day. I have a loving, mutual trusting relationship with someone who I consider to be my life partner. I have a driver’s license, a high school diploma, and I even attended college, which gave me the job that I hope to turn into a career. I laugh, cry, pray, meditate, hug, and hope sincerely. My family trusts me again, and I wake up every day wanting to be alive. It wasn’t always like this.

Let’s get through the garbage. I was bullied throughout middle school: broken bones, multiple head injuries destroyed self-esteem, weak stomach. At 13, I made my first suicide attempt. At 15, I was arrested and incarcerated into long term mental health treatment care facilities. I spent several years exploring different diagnoses, different medications, and different reasons for not wanting to be alive. At 19 I had my first joint, and I had found my medicine. I used steadily more and more, and gradually became an addict. I understand today that I did not have a drug problem, rather I had a drug solution. What this means to me today is that drugs were not my problem. I was my problem. During these times of exploration and dependence, I tried many remedies: new jobs, new apartments, new girlfriends, dropping out of school, counselling, psychiatry and I even found Jesus for a short time in my life. I had no fixed address for more than 8 months, no driver’s license or health card, and barely kept a cell phone bill paid long enough to use it. From 22 through to 23, I tried to stop using on my own, to no avail. At this time, a friend of mine turned me onto the POSSE Project, a youth driven-harm reduction outreach program. While many people in my life tried to tell me that I had a problem, POSSE folks were the first to say “OK, you do drugs… what else about you?” After that year of trying and failing to quit using drugs, I had finally reached my bottom: I was unemployable, untrustworthy, and completely empty inside, the laughter could not be forced into me by even the most potent of psychedelics.

When I reached out for help, my first call was to my girlfriend, who helped me to call POSSE, who referred me to Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve step addiction recovery program. My first meeting was Friday, July 7, 2011. Since that day I haven’t had to use drugs. I use the twelve steps every day, using them to take inventory of myself, what makes me tick, and how I can become a better man. Escapism was my method of living for so long, that recovery to me is still an unnatural state. I consider my recovery ongoing, as I am always facing new challenges, like Bi-polar 1, PTSD, SAD, the death of my younger brother to accidental overdose, debt ownership, and being a responsible adult. However, today I am able to face those challenges and respond instead of running. I truly am blessed to have the life that I do, and I owe it to those who refused to give up on me.