Why does addiction matter? Why do we need to talk about it? That continues to be the main theme for National Addiction Awareness Week 2016 #NAAWCanada taking place from November 13 to 19 in Canada. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) along with other organizations across the country will bring attention to and discuss the serious opioids crisis that is taking place in Canada. Conversations about prevention, recovery and awareness on substances that are often associated with substance use disorder will be made.
Addiction is scary and merciless. It’s a health disorder that affects many individuals, but is often not shared or discussed because of stigma. According to a 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, 1.5 million Canadians meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. Currently, BC alone has seen a 61.6% increase in overdoses from opioids abuse. These are very good reasons to talk about addiction. The discussion on how this disorder affects millions of Canadians and their families can go on and on. We can continue to share stark, true statistics about the consequences of addiction on the country’s economy, health and youth because there are many that exist. Instead, this week EHN (Edgewood Health Network) will put the focus on recovery because addiction recovery is possible.
Thousands of Canadians still require access to treatment- a chance at recovery. Organizations, such as EHN are helping to change these numbers. EHN has over 50 years of combined experience in helping individuals recover from addiction and related mental illnesses. We are committed to increasing access to treatment and advocating for the families who are struggling with addiction and who are living in recovery.
For the families who are struggling with addiction and fear the future for their loved ones, please know that there is hope. We understand how devastating and challenging it can be to live with addiction. Our organization has helped hundreds of people start their path towards recovery.
It’s difficult to measure exactly how many individuals and families are in recovery. Stigma continues to silent those who are. With respect to National Addiction Awareness Week, we will give a voice to those who want to share what recovery means to them and what it looks like. Every person in recovery has their own unique path, no two are alike. What those in recovery do have in common is a newfound appreciation for themselves and others, the courage to move forward in life and hope for a brighter future.
With that said, the following are responses that we received from members of our alumni who answered the question, “What does recovery mean?”
“Recovery began for me when I was finally able, not only to accept help, but to ask for it. Since then everything has changed. Things haven’t always gone my way but there has always been a way out and a lesson to learn. Honestly, coming into treatment was such a blur for me. But if there was one thing I took away from it,that I still use to support my recovery, it was this: A community of people exists who have experienced, and overcome, every single problem I have in my life. What is required is my effort to connect to them as best I can.
When I heard the words that ‘addiction is suicide on an installment plan’ I realized that I had to face the fact that, despite all I had ever told myself, I was becoming just like my father. Treatment is a process that allowed me to reclaim my life as my own, not anyone else’s.”
“I tried to stop drinking so many times I lost count.
I had all the excuses…. I’ll stop tomorrow.
I don’t think I really have a problem.
I’ll drink less next time.
I’m not hurting anyone.
I won’t drink until after 6:00.
I’ll stop drinking by 10:00.
I will not drink during the week.
All were good intentions.
But none seemed to work.
I was stuck in a hole unable to climb out. I was alone helpless and hopeless. Then someone came walking by the hole and mentioned to me that they could help me get out of this hole. He asked if I was interested or should he just walk by. What do I have to pay you for this service I asked. He told me it was free but I would have to do something for myself. What’s that I asked. He told me just choose not to drink for today and I’ll get you out. That’s what I did. I decided I would not drink today. And he gave me a latter and I climbed out. That’s how I got started in AA just with a helping hand.
That today has now stretched into over 8 years. One day at a time. And all I have to do is decide whether I will drink today. And today I am deciding not to.”
“Sue Barnes Family Program and Aftercare group every Thursday night literally saved my life!! The total chaos of living with an addict was destroying my life and the lives of our children. This wonderful group allowed us to recover!”
“Recovery to me means the chance at a new beginning. My time at Bellwood gave me the opportunity work towards the changes I needed to begin a life without drugs or alcohol. Recovery is worth working towards because the results affect every aspect of my life. Those most important to me noticed how the changes I made and how my outlook on life improved dramatically for the good. Bellwood gave me the tools to end the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse and AA gives me a program outside of treatment in which to use them.”
“One definition of recovery is ‘restoration or return to health from sickness.’ I was drinking and drugging but was I sick? Not being able to look in the mirror because I hated the person I became. Is that sick? Allowing drugs and alcohol to become my number one priority in my life, even more important than my family and friends? Lying, isolating, stealing, and cheating?
After looking at some of my actions I would have to say YES I WAS SICK. A normal human being does not act like this. Recovery to me is my return to a life I was hoping to have. One filled with hope and love and not of despair and hate.”
“A definition of recovery is the regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away. What was lost or taken away? My self esteem, dignity, family, friends, happiness, passion, feelings and my life. I’ve gotten all of these things back with my recovery. How great is that ?”
“Sobriety is a choice for a new life. Recovery to me is being FREE. It sounds weird but it’s not. I’m not thinking or obsessing of when my next drink is going to be and when I’m going to get high on drugs. Now it’s not even on my mind when things go wrong. If that’s not freedom what is?”
“Bellwood helped me to stop drinking finally and the tools we were taught in treatment have helped me to stay sober and enjoy a wonderful life of recovery. I could not have done it without Bellwood. I have been in Recovery for 14 years and it is an excellent way of life.”