I was a high functioning substance user for 20 years, but at the end, it was becoming more difficult to separate the two parts of my life. I didn’t lose my business or my family, but it was close. That was my rock bottom, which is different for everyone.
My addiction story is deeply embedded in trauma. This included watching my father die a slow, painful death, succumbing to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of 45. In addition to that, I was witness to a murder at a young age. I was deeply affected by these and other stressors and turned to alcohol and drugs to numb my pain. As a result, I was emotionally and physically absent throughout much of my dad’s illness. I had enormous guilt after he died, regretting that I hadn’t spent more time with him when I had the chance.
Eventually, it all became too much. I checked myself into recovery, away from the community where I’d lived, worked, and partied for the past 10 years (Kenora, Ontario). This took me to the Top of the World Ranch Treatment Centre in Fort Steel, B.C.
I owe them my life. It was there, as I did the work around feeding the white and black wolves and looked for inspiration and ways to do better during my recovery, that I decided to become a recovery coach.
I know what problematic substance use is doing to my home community, as well as communities across Canada. I want to help by giving people the resources and a place they can go to get the help they need.
When I started my recovery coaching practice in 2018, I’d been in recovery for about 16 months. While some may say that’s not long enough to help other people, I disagree. I know first-hand the struggles that others are facing and the path to recovery that can help them find their way out of the darkness. Do I believe I am cured? Absolutely not and I will continue to work extremely hard in my new lifestyle with the ultimate goal of inspiring others and helping to end the stigma around addiction.
My substance use also prevented me from receiving an accurate diagnosis of a mental illness I’ve likely had my whole life, which I now see may have contributed to some of the risky behaviours. Cyclothymia, also called cyclothymic disorder, is a rare mood disorder that causes emotional ups and downs. When you have cyclothymia, you can typically function in your daily life, though not always well. That pretty much sums up my life as a high functioning substance user.
As a problematic substance user in recovery, you experience new things everyday as part of your emotional sobriety. My new life is filled with some peace of mind and a fewer racing thoughts, and new, deeper relationships with my wife and children, even with my pets, and probably most importantly, my new spiritual connection to the universe.
I’m rebuilding everything that was compromised over the 20 years of my addictions. I am profoundly grateful that I could have crashed, but I caught it in time. That’s what I want to bring to the lives of others.
That incredible experience of getting your life back.