From the Military to the Miracle of Together We Can
I remember lying in bed one night while I was in Canadian Forces Service Prison thinking to myself, “If I can get through this I will never use drugs again.” If only it was that easy. I started using my drug of choice around 18 years old and it didn’t take long before it had totally consumed me. I was losing every job that I got including the ones where I was hired by a family member. After about 16 years of fairly regular use I decided that I would join the navy in attempt to save myself from the life I’d created. I honestly thought that the structure the Canadian Forces provided could help me stop using. I quickly realized this was not the case. I was starting to show up late and missing shifts but always managed to tell a story that got me out of the AWOL charges that came along with my absence.
On April 26, 2013 I was scheduled to set sail for Ireland and Scotland but I hadn’t slept in days. I went to my ship and finally told them what was going on. I asked for help. I was subsequently removed from my ship and put through what the military members call a “spin dry” or “coffee course.” I managed to complete the 4 week course but relapsed shortly thereafter. My admission of use to my chain of command caused me to have to follow some pretty strict guidelines. Regular urinalysis and group meetings. After my relapse I failed a few tests and was issued a notice of intent to charge. On November 17, 2013 I was charged with 2 counts of Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order and Discipline and sentenced to 20 days in Military Prison.
The day I came back to my ship I was informed by my commanding officer that he had planned on keeping me in the military. I remember how happy I was, but it didn’t last. I went out that night to celebrate my good news. I was given a urine test the following morning and came up positive. My CO abruptly changed his mind and I was released shortly thereafter.
I flew home to Victoria from Halifax last April with absolutely no clue what I was going to do. Upon release from the Canadian Forces I received all my pensionable earnings and fell deeper into my addiction than I had ever been before. It got really ugly. I was lying in bed on October 29th completely broke and hopeless and contemplating some pretty dark things. I’ve heard of these things called “God Shots” since I started my recovery and this moment was definitely one of them. I’d given up all hope that I would ever be able to stop using and I had planned on leaving this world when my phone rang. It was my Veteran’s Affairs case worker giving me the number to a man by the name of Stacy Wilson. I was offered a bed in treatment. My choices were get help or die. For the first time in my life I made the right decision. I came to Together We Can and made the choice to do everything they asked or told me to do.
It didn’t take me terribly long once I was here to realize that I didn’t have to live a miserable and isolated life. I had people that truly cared about my well being. I had friends. I put everything I had into this program and my life got so much better. I’m creeping up on 7 months clean now and have new structure to my life. I volunteer daily at TWC and am enrolled in school. I’m happy for what I’ve been given and I owe my life to the staff and counsellors at TWC.