Struggling with Addiction or Love Someone Who Does? Lisa Can Help

Staff Interview by EHN Guest Writer

Written by Lorelie Rozzano, an internationally recognized author and advocate.

Most jobs will give you the means to put clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and money in your pocket. Some jobs are temporary, while others are permanent. If you love your job, it might even become a career that changes your life.  

Meet Lisa Stockton. February 10th, 2000, Lisa was hired as support staff at Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC. While she knew very little about addiction at the time, Lisa was bright, motivated and she cared about people. During her first week at Edgewood, Lisa was instructed to spend time with the patients and “just be.” Not sure what those unusual instructions meant, Lisa soon learned that Edgewood’s top priority meant building safe, therapeutic relationships with its patients.

At first, Lisa thought it was her job to make patients feel better. When they cried, Lisa wanted to pat them on the back and tell them things would be okay. She was told not to do such things, as feeling emotional pain is necessary for healing to occur. Lisa learned much about herself through this process. She hadn’t realized how uncomfortable it was for her to just be. Lisa’s natural urge to help others feel better came from her need to feel better, too.

Before working at Edgewood, Lisa had no idea that she had people-pleasing, codependent traits. Lisa began to reevaluate some of the stories she was telling herself. Looking at her personal relationships, Lisa noted areas of dysfunction.

Attending Insite, Edgewood’s family program, Lisa realized she had lived her life trying to look good on the outside. Behind closed doors, it was a different story.

Lisa knew if she was going to help other people get well, she would need to make some difficult changes herself. The transformation Lisa went through helped her connect with the patients at Edgewood. Lisa says she is not the same individual she was when she first walked through Edgewood’s doors; she is a better person, mother, partner, and employee. Lisa credits her effective communication style to Edgewood’s counsellors and workshops which taught her active listening skills and how to resolve disputes. Working in a facility that requires Lisa to be the best version of herself has positively changed every aspect of her life.

Starting in the position of support staff, Lisa worked her way up the ladder. Today she is the Corporate Care Specialist at EHN. Lisa’s position entails liaising between referrals and the clinical team. Families and referrers can reach out to Lisa with their needs, concerns, and recommendations. Lisa follows up, making sure everyone has the information they need.

Lisa encourages families to get involved in the recovery process. The family often thinks they’re doing okay, but when you focus intensely on helping someone else and you lose yourself in that process, you’re not doing okay. You’re hurting, and that matters.

Every person admitted to Edgewood knows what it’s like to struggle. Lisa does too. As a single parent and sole breadwinner, she’s had her share of challenges, but she doesn’t hide her struggles anymore. Lisa knows that hiding your problems only makes them worse. She says we all struggle in some way or another. Struggle is a necessary occurrence, which, when faced, promotes growth and change.

However, substance use disorder is complicated, and people with this condition often struggle with denial. Sometimes their families do too, and well-meaning families can prolong their loved one’s addiction by enabling. Families can confuse enabling with helping. Enabling is doing for someone what they can, and should, be doing for themselves, like buying their groceries and paying their rent or their cellphone bill. Helping someone get treatment is not enabling—it’s giving your loved one the opportunity to recover their life.

Families may also feel overwhelmed by the myths surrounding addiction, especially this one: you must want to go to treatment to be successful. Over the last 20 years, Lisa has seen hundreds of people admitted to Edgewood. She notes very few want to be there. People come to treatment because they lost their job, or their partner, or their home. They may be in trouble with the law or suffer from serious health issues.

The person struggling with addiction is the last to admit how sick they are. If we keep waiting for sick people to make healthy choices, they’re going to die.

Despite a person’s initial resistance to entering Edgewood, they can recover. One of the keys to successful addiction treatment is ensuring that each person receives an accurate assessment upon admission. At Edgewood, we ensure that critical issues such as trauma, depression, chronic pain, and anxiety are treated. Early identification of the patient’s challenges allows our experienced clinical team to develop a comprehensive, tailor-made treatment plan.

If you’re struggling with addiction or love someone who is, give Lisa a call. Whether it’s coming to Edgewood’s programs or finding resources in your area, Lisa can help. No one should suffer in silence or alone. In her time at Edgewood, Lisa has seen the toughest cases walk through the front door—people society had written off—and today they are in recovery.

As our interview comes to an end, I ask Lisa what is most rewarding about her work at Edgewood.

Lisa beams. “Watching our Alumni come back to Cake Night and celebrate milestones in recovery.”

As Lisa reminisces about her career, it’s clear that her 20 years at EHN is more than just a paycheck. For Lisa, working at Edgewood is a lifestyle, and the people here are her family.