Looking Through The Rear-view Mirror
I started using “Drugs” at a very young age, around 11 years old. My father had passed away when I was just 5 years old, and my mother had met my stepfather when I was 8 . We where living in Toronto at the time, and at age 11 we moved to Phoenix Arizona, for the heat and desert atmosphere that it abundantly provides. It was there that I started using substance. It was not the move to Phoenix that started me using, “I probably would have gone down the same path had I remained in Canada,” although drugs where readily available, being only 4 hours north of the Mexican border.
At first it was marijuana and alcohol, but soon I was seeking stronger and stronger substances, until, I had become a full-blown Heroin and Cocaine addict in my early 20’s. My addiction lasted most of my life, some 43 years in total.
“Drugs helped me cope, as a matter of fact, they have kept me from committing suicide at various times throughout my life.”
I have lost businesses, homes, a wife, a brother, the respect of my children, and my sense of dignity alone the way. I have had periods of being extremely productive, savouring the fruits of family and business along the way only to be reminded of the vulnerability that this lifestyle afforded. Drugs helped me cope, as a matter of fact, they have kept me from committing suicide at various times throughout my life. I hadn’t realize that I had been suffering from that incidence of Childhood Trauma all the while. Drugs made me feel normal. I was able to function, to cope with the overwhelming sadness, anxiety, and accompanying depression that was occurring daily.
This cycle of sadness, anxiety and depression, tamed by Narcotics lasted some 43 years. Back in the day there was no recognition of the impact of childhood traumas. The only emotional trauma that was being spoken of, was “Shell Shock,” and that was for “War Veterans,” certainly not children. So at that time, my emotional trauma’s remained rampant, unchecked, and thoroughly self-medicated for decades to come. I moved back to Canada in my early 30’s and I did manage to have a period of abstinence from Heroin and Cocaine, I got married, had two kids, started a contracting company, but that all ended for me while separating from my wife some 10 years ago. That’s when “Holly Hell Broke Loose” for me. 10 more years of addiction, self-depreciation, homelessness and near death.
After suffering 14 Heroin related overdoses
I received a call from my daughter Bryanne, she had received a call from the hospital telling her that I had overdosed, they had saved my life once again, they knew me by name, and that I needed help before I die. I was, needless to say, guilt-ridden and ashamed. That was only expected given the circumstances. She also expressed her concerns for my well-being, with no avail. I was all too used to the feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. But in that hopeless moment five words rank out like thunder, “I want my Daddy back.” I broke down in tears, I had come to the realization of the pain and anxiety that I had been causing her, the same pain I had been going through all my life. This was a burden I could not bear.
It was time to move forward
I was at a complete loss as what to do next, all I knew was that “if I don’t do something I’m going to die.” I had to clean up. I called some friends in Capreol Ontario, to come and get me. It’s four and a half hours north of Barrie Ontario, where I was living at the time. Capreol is remote, I had no access to Heroin there, so if there was a chance to get clean, that’s where I might find it. Find it I did, five weeks of withdrawal’s that I don’t even want to recall. I don’t ever want to have to experience again.
Somewhere in the fifth week, I found enough clarity, to find a way, to get to Toronto, where I live today. I took a year off of my life, to go through “Addiction Treatment.” I was determined to get a handle on this, no matter what, or how long it took.
“It only makes sense to me today, after all what child wants to grow up to be an addict?” “Who has those ambitions?”
During the early part of treatment, I found myself with that same overwhelming sense of sadness, and anxiety that I was able to quell with drugs, but this time I had no drugs. It was just me, facing all of that anxiety, depression, and fear. Through the staff of the treatment centre I attended, we came to realize that there was an underlying factor, another mental health issue, PTSD. “It only makes sense to me today, after all what child wants to grow up to be an addict?” “Who has those ambitions?”
Today, I have a psychotherapists for my Childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I have counselling sessions weekly, sometimes daily, when I feel overwhelmed (which is still quite often). I’m 14 months clean for the first time in 44 years. Today, I am productive. I have a future. I have the respect of my children back. I care about myself.
This is about the most that I can share today. I’m feeling “a little bit vulnerable” right now. I guess that’s to be expected.
I would really appreciate any comments you may have after reading this. It’s not been an easy write for me today. – Thanks, Jeff Dibble