My name is Kelly, and I’m an addict.
I had every advantage a kid could hope for growing up: a large loving family, lots of friends, sports, camping and travelling. I didn’t feel different; I fit in. I excelled at most things I did and enjoyed being a kid. When I went to high school this continued. I made new friends, played on sports teams and made the honour role.
When I was 13, I started experimenting with drugs and I loved the way they made me feel. I felt even more connected to people and the world around me. I thought that I’d found a way to enhance life. I didn’t need a reason to use drugs; I just needed a way to get the stuff. I got high to do everything; it made life more fun. That was the “fun” part of addiction, the subtle yet serious beginnings that lead to my “fun with problems” period. Using turned into the day’s most important goal – a mission to get high.
By age 21 I was using harder drugs, floating from job to job getting nowhere. My family was worried that they were losing me. Soon after I entered the “just problems” stage. This included trips to the hospital, trouble with the law and frequent unemployment.
My family was tired of watching me deteriorate, and staged an intervention. I had never considered not using drugs. I knew life would be better, but didn’t know how to stop. I went to treatment and was introduced to the 12 steps. I was given a world-class education in addiction, while my three siblings all went to university.
Following treatment, I stayed clean for three years and my life was great. I gained everything I had missed out on and again had every advantage a guy could hope for. I was involved in recovery and did the things I needed to do to stay clean.
When I was 24, I moved to Japan and let recovery slip from my list of priorities. I used again and all of my problems quickly returned. I skipped the first two stages and re-entered the “just problems” stage. When I returned to Canada I was using harder drugs and creating more difficult problems.
After a three-year relapse, I went back to treatment. I stayed clean for another three years, and again, got a good life. I went back to school and did well; however, my recovery became less and less important. I relapsed again and quickly lost everything I had gained. Lost in addiction, things spiraled out of control. After another three-year relapse I went to yet another treatment facility. I knew what to do and I got my life back.
The next relapse took me out for five years. My addiction was in full force when I decided I had to do something before I wound up dead or in jail.
I had been trying to stay clean for 16 years when I checked myself into The Last Door. I wondered what would be different this time.
I didn’t want to live in New Westminster or go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings because I thought I knew a better way. It was quickly pointed out to me that what I had been doing to stay clean wasn’t working, and I needed to keep and open mind.
The first concept I was taught at The Last Door was that giving back and helping the new guy was paramount to not only staying clean, but also contributed to high self-esteem and humility. I was also shown that being involved with the community is essential to living life as a clean addict. We walked to local meetings twice a day and became part of the larger recovery community.
The treatment program at the Door is completed once all 12 steps are written and shared, no matter how long it takes. That was exactly what I needed – to complete the 12 steps in a structured environment. I’d never done that in 16 years of trying to stay clean.
The Door allowed me to apply recovery in a practical sense in an environment that was stimulating and fun. The staff at the Door leads by example, and have all been where I was. They walked the walked, something that goes a long way when listening to and following their direction.
My life has never been better. Today, recovery is natural and instinctive, and as a result my life is full of adventure, opportunity and love. I live in New Westminster and visit the Last Door frequently, to connect and give back. I graduated with an engineering diploma from BCIT last year. Tomorrow, I leave on vacation with my girlfriend, who is also in recovery.
Recovery is my number one priority; without it, I have nothing.
I haven’t used drugs or nicotine since walking into the Last Door on February 24th 2013. Thanks to the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous, The Last Door and all of the support from friends and family, I never have to use drugs again.
Grateful Door Boy