Looking Back on Addiction Towards Recovery
August 22, 2018. Article by: Government of B.C.
Scott has faced many challenges in his life. He has spent much of his life in institutions and he has struggled with anxiety. He has experienced homelessness and the uncertainty that comes with moving across the country.
Scott has also faced the major challenge of addiction and working towards recovery – a journey that began after an injury led to a dependence on opioids.
“I started off with an opioid prescription after I had a roofing accident,” says Scott. “I was eventually cut off, so I had to buy it off the streets.”
Scott’s substance use quickly led to increasing instability.
“At the time I had a beautiful home in Ontario but once I got hooked on the pills, everything was gone. All of a sudden you’re selling your furniture, then your rent is behind… and then you’re on the street.”
People say you need to hit rock bottom, but I was below the rocks. I would’ve been better off being dead than the way I was.
Scott decided to move back to the west coast where he grew up. Although the move helped in some ways – “I lived on the shore and the ocean was beautiful” – he still struggled with substance use.
“For a long time, pride got in the way,” Scott admits. “I didn’t know how to ask for help.”
But one day, Scott took the step that changed his life.
“Speaking up that one time at the community action group got me the help I needed,” he says. “Now I’m on the methadone program and the community action group has helped me a lot.”
With evidence-based addiction treatment and the support of peers and counsellors, Scott has been able to journey towards recovery.
“My whole life is changing for the better,” he reflects. “I started volunteering at a women’s shelter. I feel good because I’m giving back to society.”
Reaching out for help had a bigger impact than Scott imagined. It broke down the silence and isolation that made his substance use challenges even harder to deal with. It provided him with connections to turn to for support and helped him rebuild his confidence.
That confidence is helping Scott find ways to cope with the pain that first led to his substance use challenges. It’s helped him recognize that recovery is a lifelong journey that comes with its own challenges. Scott has climbed hills before – and now he has the tools to support him on the way.
“There are times that I want to numb myself, but I don’t want to go back to where I was,” Scott says. “It’s about having to deal with the pain through counselling. I have to spend the rest of my life working on my life. I’m going to run into obstacles, but I have to be willing to ask for help.”
Scott shared his story in the Behind the Numbers research project, in which people with lived experience using drugs and healthcare service providers offered their perspectives to help further understanding of substance use and addiction in B.C. Learn more about the Behind the Numbers project.
Read the Behind the Numbers story book (PDF).