Keep calm …


So, I definitely can’t say that the journey to where I am now has been an easy one, but I guess you could say that it might actually finally become manageable from here on out.

Before I came to treatment, I was probably in the worst place I’d ever been in. I had moved out of my mother’s house, I was applying for welfare, and I was constantly searching for my next high. I don’t quite know what factors helped me dig this hole for myself, or even when I realized I was in it, all I knew was that I had to get the hell out. I would’ve done anything to go back to the way my life was before all the substances, a whopping five years prior.

The day I got admitted to treatment was the same day I was required to get my mug shot taken, another reminder that I had reached an all time low for myself. I had been texting my friend all morning, discussing my situation and possible solutions, all ending with the same idea: moving back to my mum’s. My friend told me not to move a muscle and that she would be there in 20 minutes, with her friend who had previously going to treatment, and she was taking me to CAMH, a treatment centre in Toronto. Once in the car, the reality of my situation started to settle: somehow I had actually managed to get to this point, and the amount of consequences I had to face and will face on my road to recovery. Once registered at CAMH, my mother finally felt as if I could feasibly move back home, though not until I had undergone a more substantial amount of treatment. After all, how are five weeks supposed to “cure” five years of substance dependence?

My mother and I finally agreed on the treatment plan – register for Dave Smith, stay for the full program, then potentially move back home – we put the plan in motion. Before I knew it, I was registered, booked on a flight, and expected to live with 11 other girls in one household. At this point, all I could do was pray that they had a library (luckily, they did).

It was nothing like I expected. The girls were welcoming and the staff even more so. I think the moment that stands out the most was when I was able to witness a recognition ceremony my first day here. Seeing the praise and hearing all the wonderful things everyone had to say about the work in progress that young woman had made here and had put towards bettering her way of life was almost overwhelmingly inspirational and influential. You could say I had a fairly lucky first day.

It was quite challenging for the first few weeks, especially in groups.  Hearing so many different and controversial opinions was extremely intimidating. This almost compromised my treatment due to my consistent worrying about what other people thought and how their opinions differed from mine. Throughout my treatment here I had to alter my perspective and almost flip it to use other people’s opinions to reflect positively on myself. As a result, this helped me accept judgement without feeling hurt or victimized, which is one of the main lessons I have learned.

If I were to choose one group which I found most beneficial, I would have to say ACRA. Before treatment, anytime I had to be confrontational or even ask for help, I would freeze up and feel completely overwhelmed with anxiety. It definitely did not happen overnight but after quite a few sessions and groups about communication skills, and how to ask for help in most effective, assertive way.  This skill became second nature to me. You could say that I’m walking out these doors with a whole new perspective on what communication even means. Never underestimate the power of your words.

The last idea I would like to touch on is the support and engagement that the staff here have with your treatment. Here at Dave Smith, you are not recognized as a client, or an addict, or someone suffering; you are recognized as a person, a human, who deserves as many chances and opportunities to do good in this world as anyone else. The staff here at Dave Smith changed my life in ways that I couldn’t even imagine six months ago. They helped me build connections in my community, they helped me build connections with my family, and they helped me build the confidence I need to be able to actually go back to school and get my high school diploma.

Moving forward, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the amount of support, help and guidance the Dave Smith program has assisted me with. I am walking out of this program with more insight than most of the adults in my life. I can confidently say that this program has changed my life. I hope that each and every girl who walks in those doors after me feels like they can open up and ask for help because trust me, shutting off and bottling up will most likely not get you anywhere. Please, accept the help this program has to offer, and let them positively impact your way of living.  Trust me or don’t but you will not regret it.

Nobody can go back …

Realizing that i had a drug addiction was the first step in coming to treatment. When everything in my life started to fall to pieces was when i started looking for help. All the counselors i had and family and friends kept telling me i needed to go to  Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. At first even the thought of moving away somewhere for 3 months was not an option.The more i started to think about it and the more i was being pushed to come, i started to realize this was one of the only things that may actually help turn my life around.  

My experience here at Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre has been life changing. I have learned things that i will never forget and will continue to use in my daily life after leaving here. Some of the things i have learned are how to control my anger, how to be more mindful, how to communicate better with others, how to love myself, how to have healthy relationships, how to say no, and also understanding  the reasons why i needed to get help. At first when i finally decided to come it was because i was being pushed and because of my legal issues but as i started to work on myself i discovered that i wanted to be here for myself so that i could start to live the healthy happy lifestyle that i wanted. Coming to treatment was definitely not easy for me within the first month of being here i think i packed my bags three times, but each time i got reminded that i can do this and now three months later i’m sitting here typing about how much this program has helped me. Moving forward i am going to get a job, finish off high school and always remember the things i learned here to help me in my future. Lastly i’m going to remember i have the skills i need to handle anything that comes my way.

No Feeling is Final

The past two years or so have been messy with my poor communication and social skills. Around the age of 13, my  addiction to poison and my habit to a dangerous lifestyle took over me, my ability to laugh, love, feel emotions, share myself, understand the emotions of my loved ones and many other things. My schooling went to S#!*, my relationships went to S#!*, I went to S#!*. I lost faith in myself which made me lose faith in everything else. I did not have any remorse because of the toxic spell I was under from the things I was doing to myself. Words will never be able to explain how sorry I am for what I have put everyone through who genuinely cared about my health and well being.

Communication was one of the things I wanted to work on improving during my recovery process. I put in a lot of work challenging the negative thoughts I had about  relationships with family and close friends and how I was going to improve it with healthy communication, which has significantly gotten better thanks to the amazing boost in self confidence I had, the staff that helped me incredibly and provided me with various skills and role-played them with me on a daily basis. I was also given the chance for family sessions where I was able to have guided discussions with my mom, using the steps of ACRA (Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach). Seeing my loved ones put in the work to reassure me that I wasn’t alone on making a leap towards healthy communication and fixing relationships that got lost throughout the years of me using, which I greatly appreciate. I am aware that my transition into a teenager and a young adult is one of the hardest times for me and the people around me, especially my mother who has tried her hardest to get to know a scared, vulnerable, angry, girl for the past year, is extremely difficult.

For the longest time I would never admit that I had a problem with drugs. Even though deep down everyday was an ongoing struggle with myself mentally and physically, wondering if I would wake up the next day, trying to figure out if I wanted to wake up the next day, scared about why I was even thinking about taking my own life. Having screaming matches with myself in my head that I was never able to referee. I felt lost, ten feet under, like I was constantly walking a thin line, half asleep. Battling substance abuse issues and struggles with my mental health has been a daily battle but improves with every breath I take and every decision I make to take back my power. I can finally say I am satisfied with myself and the emotional, mental state I am in, which is something I thought I would never be able to say. Everyday I face the chance of relapse or a ‘slip’, but out of many of the things I have learned here is that you can always pick yourself back up from a slip, which helps me challenge the negative and destructive thoughts that used to flood my brain a lot more frequently than they do now.

Before treatment I was full of anger and self doubt. I focused in on destructive thoughts which would set my day back, multiple times daily. I can now say proudly that I am intelligent, artistic, well articulated, kindhearted, assertive, and beautiful inside and out. Repeating positive thoughts to myself everyday for three months has been one of the biggest struggles for me because I simply did not believe them, but as my body got healthier and my mind became more clear, it became easier. My self confidence level and perception of things in life that matter and deserve my full attention, besides getting high, has come in leaps and bounds. Recovering from substance abuse issues, the healing process is different for everyone. Unlike a broken leg, you cannot put a cast on the wound and be given an approximate recovery time. Everyone has individual triggers and cues that come and go depending on people, places, and thoughts they associate using with. Triggers can come out of the blue which, personally is one of the biggest fears I face, not knowing when a trigger can occur and depending on my mental state, how I will deal with it. I would like to thank my two best friends who have showed me the true meaning of loyalty and trust throughout this process, my extended family who has watched me grow and have provided nothing but positivity and reassurance. My father who has taught me life does not need to rhyme or have a reason, it is all of what you make out of it that will either make or break you in the long run. My beautiful, talented, smart sister who I have had the pleasure to watch grow and will hopefully get to know more as the years go on,  my mother, who is my rock, my foundation, the root of my life and the person I know I am deep down, we are extremely similar which can sometimes make us bump heads, but the days I cannot come to seem to do it for myself, I do it for everyone I love, and last but not least I would like to thank all of the amazing staff here at DSYTC, for encouraging me daily to keep pushing and always reminding me that no feeling is final.

Road to Recovery – SM

During the summer of 2016, I was introduced to the scary world of substances, and nearly lost my life to it. At the young age of 14, I found myself spending much of my time with adult high school dropouts. Sadly, I called these people my ‘friends’ and they took advantage of my money and my kindness. They only saw me as someone who would satisfy their needs. The kind, innocent girl that people saw me as was gone. I quit being the bold dancer I was. I stopped trying so hard in school. I gave in to an unhealthy and self destructive lifestyle. I lost my clean handed reputation and broke the trust of my family and friends. I was at a loss and going forward I only saw myself going downhill. I was prepared to be a drug dealer the rest of my life. Three months ago, my life consisted of constant fighting between my parents and me, watching people die in my arms due to drug overdoses, being taken advantage of sexually by the same drunk adults I took care of when they had a ‘little too much’, being rushed to hospital over drug related suicide attempts and getting into physical fights and jumping others for drugs. My life was drugs and violence. I started to become what we refer to here as ‘wild’. I started to see and hear things that weren’t there. I couldn’t sleep because I thought I would die. I was scared to leave home because I believed someone was out to get me and so on. If I were to compare the person I was in summer 2016 to the person I was a few months ago, you’d see two entirely different people. Reflecting on it now gives me chills.

After spending the night in the hospital following an overdose, I heard the disturbing news I was lucky to survive. The doctor at the hospital suggested a variety of rehab options to my father and me. I was still in denial that I needed help, but, I had no choice, and so, on April 10th of 2017 I was admitted to DSYTC. The second I walked through those doors the girls and staff were genuinely welcoming and friendly, though, during the first few weeks I struggled to settle in as the clients that I had grown to feel comfortable around were graduating shortly after my arrival. I had a rough start to my treatment. During my first week I received sad news that a loved one nearly took her life and as a result, I fell into an emotional breakdown that landed me in the hospital. When my dad arrived in the emergency room, I tried to convince him treatment won’t help me.  We compromised that if I put in effort and stayed at least until my home visit he would take me home. It was after that night when I put down my guard and gave treatment a chance to help me. I came to the realization that I wanted to change my ways and be a better person in order to the help the people I care about and who are struggling. I started attending and engaging in groups, I opened up and worked with my AT, I caught up in school, I became a leader to new clients, and with that, I started to become a new person without even knowing it. In fact, I started to actually enjoy being in treatment and learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable and sensitive. I started to hear words of encouragement from other clients and staff. Hearing positive and kind words being said about myself was foreign to me. It was nice to hear that my friends and family could see the change in me. A few even said they could hear the change in my voice on the phone since being in treatment. I was motivated to push through the full three months after acknowledging all the words of encouragement. I started to lose interest for partying, substance use, and began eliminating toxic friends and duds that had brought me down in the last year. Cutting those factors out of my life has had such a positive impact on my well being. I am happy that I can finally have something to be proud of. I am now treated and talked to with more respect, I’m slowly rebuilding the trust with those whom I’ve deceived I can rely on, and trust the remaining supports I have to be there for me, but more importantly, I have successfully re-learned how to enjoy a sober life. Coming to treatment has turned my whole life around, and I am so thankful for it. If I hadn’t taken the shot in the dark and gave DSYTC a chance to help me recover, I would not be where I am today, or perhaps not here at all. I can finally say I am no longer the sad, angry, destructive and lethal 14 year old I was when I arrived. Fast forward to the present, with treatment near it’s end, I am now a far more confident, successful, respectable and emotionally regulated 15 year old girl. I would like to thank DSYTC for helping me rebuild my family relationships, reuniting me with my sister whom I haven’t seen for years up until recently, providing me with new social skills, introducing me to different pro-social activities, helping me learn to healthy cope and much more.

To future clients;  Your treatment only gets easier when you let it get easier. You get what you put into treatment and whether your path follows harm reduction or staying sober, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. Take a shot in the dark like I did, and see what happens, I guarantee you’ll get the results you were hoping for if YOU give your all into treatment. It’s all about your willingness. Good luck!

I am not what I have done …

Before I came to Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, I wasn’t in a good place. At first I thought I was fine and didn’t need any help because everyone around me was making me believe smoking weed every day was normal and okay. But I was relying on it and I couldn’t eat or sleep without it. Then I started to get into MDMA and was doing that every day as well as marijuana. I was getting into trouble with the law and with my family and friends. One day while I was on my suspension from school, I had a meeting with my counselor and he told me about DSYTC, and I agreed to talk to my mom about it. One day later I was filling out the forms.

At first I went to treatment to make my family happy, but then after being in treatment for a little while, I realized I really did need it and I was there for myself.

Being in treatment has taught me so much about myself and it has taught me so many new coping skills that Inever knew could help me as much as drugs or self harm did. I learned how to be assertive in situations that make me uncomfortable and I’ve learned so much more to help me life a more sober and rewarding life. I also learned how to communicate better so that my relationships are better.

When I first came to treatment, I was someone who didn’t think I had a good future, and I really didn’t care about anything. My plan was to do a month or so, then get out and go right back to what I was doing before. But, I have changed back into the person I used to be before I was doing drugs every day. I am happy now and I am outgoing again and I have a better relationship with my family.

When I leave treatment, I will definitely keep doing yoga and going to the gym. I am going to start painting more and do more things outside and now that I’ve learned so many fun things to do while sober, I know I don’t need drugs to have fun. I can’t wait to start my new life as me again. My family and I are all more happy after I came to treatment and I can’t wait to use the tools I’ve learned at DSYTC on the outside and have a better, more rewarding, happier life.

The Best Feeling …

I first started struggling with addiction in grade nine.  My mom wanted me to come to treatment and get help since then, but ‘’I didn’t have a problem’’.  For my grade 12 year, I decided the answer would be moving to Ottawa to live with my Aunt and Uncle and my three cousins.  For the first 2 months I was maintaining going to school and work everyday until I met, ‘’friends’’, there that were one and the same as my, ‘’friends’’, in Kitchener.  I also got in over my head as I hadn’t been in school in almost a year prior and I registered for four University classes, which I started falling behind in before I knew it.  That’s when my principal at John MrCrae suggested I go to Wynwood alternative to earn credits at my own pace and potentially at a more appropriate level.  

I started in Life Skills, which was a mandatory class to start at Wynwood.  It was a two month course and yet again, for the first month and a half I did extremely well.  I was on time everyday, completed homework, handed in assignments punctually.  Until the last two weeks of the course when I started making, ‘’friends’’, again and got right back into my old drinking and drug habits.  My teacher who I had a solid relationship with, watched me slip as well as Marla, my Rideauwood Addiction Counselor.  Meanwhile my home life was falling apart too in the midst of all this.  As well, my ‘’friends’’ were just using me for money, drugs, sex or whatever the case may be.  When I realized right before Christmas that I had no money saved up, no real friends, no family that was pleased with me, no self esteem and everyday was a bender… I knew I had to come to Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.  My family was more optimistic knowing that I’ve finally recognized I had a problem and wanted to get help for it, however there was still that doubt in everyone’s mind that I wouldn’t go through with it.  After the Christmas break I moved out on my own and things got worse before they got better.  Sometimes I didn’t even know if I wanted to follow through with going to treatment because I was having ‘’fun’’ and had the most freedom I’ve ever had in my life. On the other hand, sometimes I felt like my life was on pause and I’d be stuck forever.  I was only going to school to see Marla to work on the process of getting in and when I wasn’t at school I wasn’t able to be reached.  Although despite what I just said, I knew even in my using mind that I wanted more for myself.  

From the second I arrived at Dave Smith I felt more at ease like this was my actual fresh start.  All the girls were really friendly which made me feel welcome.  While I’ve been here, I’ve learned the three steps in ACRA, healthy communication and I’ve been applying it when talking to my mom and others within the house.  I’ve also been working on my assertiveness skills and they have come a long way.  I now feel confident in my ability to say ‘’no’’ to people when I’m uncomfortable with what they’re asking and that also plays into my self esteem, I feel good about myself when I’m able to say how I feel in a respectful manner.  Also, my goal was to get 4 credits while being here and I’m now leaving with 6 instead, that makes me feel capable and sets me on track to graduate in the winter.  Another one of my goals before I came in here was to run everyday on the treadmill which lasted the first month and then I started to decrease the amount I worked out, finding more of a healthy balance for myself.  Also I can finally make my mom proud, and treat her how she deserves to be treated because I am happy with myself and don’t feel the need to take my anger out on her because she’s never done anything but try to help me so it’s time I start giving back.

I will take away from the program all these valuable skills I’ve learned and how my therapist, teacher, and the counselors are so empathetic and helpful.  Before I came into treatment I didn’t know who I was, I did things because others wanted me to or because I wanted to be more like them or wanted them to like me more, I had little to no self confidence and I was very passive aggressive, I’d let things happen or give in to things I didn’t want to and feel poorly after.  Leaving here I’ve never felt better.  I know who I am, what I stand for and what I want out of life.  Moving forward I plan to remain abstinent and I am hopeful and excited for my future. I cannot wait to make new positive, healthy friends and enjoy life.  This summer I am doing an aesthetics course that will count towards my high school diploma and in September I am going to an adult learning centre to finish my last credits to graduate.  From there on I will work until the following September and that’s when I plan on going to Conestoga College to take the two year Social Service Worker program to touch other adolescents lives how Dave Smith has touched mine.  

Laugh …

In the summer of 2016 I was admitted to a treatment centre in Toronto, with no choice to decide because legally I had to. I put in no effort and all I talked about was wanting to leave, so they ended up letting me leave after a month. I wondered why they let me go so easily at the time, however looking back now I realize that they let me go because it wasn’t my time, after all, how could someone get better when they don’t even know something is wrong? I began to realize I needed help shortly after I left the centre, however I thought I could get better on my own. I couldn’t though, and that was when I decided, on my own, to seek treatment from DSYTC.

My experience at DSYTC was so worthwhile. While I was here I learned many things. After only three months, I have changed in such a positive way and could not be happier. Today I was actually comparing what I rated my happiness scale when I came in, to what I rate it today, and it’s honestly so incredible that in just three months my quality of life and my outlook on life has done a 180! I now enjoy being awake everyday and I have plans in my future because I care. I am physically healthy and am able to recognize an emotion I’m feeling, why, and am able to open up to a staff and express myself, instead of internalizing it all and feeling alone. When I start getting in a low mood (red flags), I’m able to recognize that and use all my healthy coping skills to get out of it. I have built up my confidence pretty well, where I actually love myself and know myself. I’m able to go out without makeup and genuinely feel beautiful, I’m able to look in the mirror and recognize myself and what I truly need, I’m able to accept my past and take out all the positives from the negative events, I’m able to shake off negative comments from others because I know they aren’t true. I’m so excited to start my ‘new life’ where I am able to live healthily and without substances!

I want to thank all the staff from DSYTC that have helped me these past three months, I appreciate all of you and couldn’t have done this without DSYTC.