Participating in drug panel keeps addict clean 

First hand account of addiction a powerful component of presentations

"What Neil’s parents didn’t know is that their son had been vomiting, defecating and urinating blood. The doctor told them that depression was the least of Neil’s problems, their son’s drug addiction had escalated to the point were death was an inevitability."

 

When Neil took his first toke, he was a 15-year-old high school student just doing what everyone else was doing: smoking a little pot. Seven months later, he was experimenting with heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs and crystal meth. Within three years, he had developed a full-blown psychological and physical addiction. At one time, he was so desperate to get high that he downed 40 penicillin tablets to merely enact getting stoned.

Hard drugs were remarkably easy for the teenager to get in his hometown of Squamish.

"It wasn’t any harder than getting liquor," he says.

A few years ago his parents walked him into his doctor’s office in order to deal with what they thought was the effects of severe, untreated depression.

Their 25-year-old son weighed in at 86 lb, was extremely moody and miserable.

"I’m not a very big guy at best," says Neil, who currently packs 135 lbs on his 5’4" frame.

What Neil’s parents didn’t know is that their son had been vomiting, defecating and urinating blood. The doctor told them that depression was the least of Neil’s problems, their son’s drug addiction had escalated to the point where death was an inevitability.

"The doctor told me that everything was shutting down and I had about four months to live," remembers the heavy-duty mechanic.

Four months was the amount of time it took him to get clean in a Fraser Valley rehab centre. Today he is 28 years old and two-and-half years clean. Under the auspices of Sea to Sky Services Society, he is part of a panel that travels throughout the region talking to families about drugs. He will be joining Dr. Phil Shoemack, Sea to Sky’s Medical Health Officer, and Roger Lake of the Washington State Narcotics Investigators Association at two community panels in the Pemberton Valley: Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Mount Currie Gymnasium and Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Signal Hill Elementary School.

Neil sees participating in the workshops as important to maintaining his sobriety as attending the 12-step Narcanon program and seeing his drug and alcohol counselor.

The issues he’s untangled with his counselor were problems that he acquired because of his addiction. He maintains there was no inciting incident that led to his addiction; no great pain he was trying to bury. Instead, he believes that he was born with an addictive personality that led him constantly in search of a new rush. It was that love of the rush that led him to explore increasingly dramatic highs. Eventually, getting high stopped being fun and started being necessary to just maintain his life.

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