Hi, my name is Scott, and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with substance addiction. Well, to start off I’ll say that I was a child of multiple environments. I was raised primarily by my mother who was a strong Christian lady but had a lot on her plate. I was forced to attend a Baptist church every Sunday and, though I loved God, I detested most of my time spent there. I would spend summers visiting my dad in Cranbrook which, looking back, was a terrible environment for a young child. My dad drank whenever he wasn’t working, and when he drank, he drank a lot. Fights and violence were a regular occurrence between him and his new wife and sometimes even towards others in the house and myself. This went on until I was about five or six and his wife hit him in the head with a cast iron frying pan. Once my mom got wind of this, I wasn’t allowed to visit dad anymore. Shortly after this my brother stole a bunch of guns from my mom’s husband and left home. I didn’t have much contact with him after that so I sort of became an only child.
Around age eight I witnessed some baptisms at my church and decided that this was what I wanted. After telling my mom, she promptly told me that I wasn’t ready and couldn’t be baptised and that was the day I turned my back on God. From then on, I rebelled against everything. I would refuse to go to school, refuse to do homework, only showing up to do the tests which I would almost always ace. My mom didn’t know how to handle my strong will so she would set boundaries and rules, I would break them and we’d push back and forth until she would get frustrated and let me have my way.
When I was 13, I left Vancouver Island and my mom to live with my dad in Cranbook. I guess even from a young age I already craved chaos. My dad’s girlfriend Val and her son were very heavy pot smokers and that is ultimately where I got my start with drugs. I would go home after school and get high to the point that I’d just go lay down and sleep all afternoon. Being fresh into high school though, it didn’t take me long to make drug contacts there and find kids my age that used.
The next few years were pretty hazy. No matter where I went, my friends and I had drugs. I couldn’t stand the emotional abuse at home so I would hardly ever be there. By now, I’d gotten big enough to take my dad when he was drunk, so physical abuse became a null point after a few altercations ending with him in the hospital.
When I was almost 15 I was walking some girls home from school and they got into an argument with a group of older guys cat-calling them. Within minutes I was faced with an altercation with three 20 year-old guys that ended in me stabbing one of them and the others scattering. I was terrified. I was picked up by the police later that evening and spent half the night being fingerprinted and told how terrible I was and how my future wasn’t very bright. The charges were dropped on self defence, but after that I found I could barely go anywhere in Cranbrook without facing some kind of altercation, so I decided it was time to leave.
I moved back to my mom’s, dropped out of school, and started a construction job to raise some money. After about three months, I had enough for a bus ticket and a little spending money. I hopped on a Greyhound and spent three and one-half days on it headed for Illinois. I’d met some friends online from a town just outside Chicago and it seemed just far enough to satiate my need to run from my life. By this point I was 15 and angry at the world. It just so happened that in Chicago I ran into a bunch of kids that were just as angry as I was and they gave me a target for my anger, an outlet for it, and the sense of family I’d always craved. I had joined a skinhead gang. I spent a few drug and rage filled months there with them and witnessed things that would make your skin crawl.
I came back to B.C. with a worse temper than when I’d left, a screwed up sense of morality and values, and a severe tendency for violence. I moved to Cranbrook again. My dad had left town for work. I was 15, on my own, ticked off, and ready to let the world know. I was producing and selling drugs for various groups and showing up for school when the mood hit me, which wasn’t often. You wouldn’t find me sober very often, and when I was, you certainly wouldn’t want to be around me long. I survived this way until my 18th birthday. I’d made some enemies and the old survival instinct to run set in again strong.
My brother had been out of jail again for a few years by this point and was living in Queensborough. He said he had a spare room and would take me in so I packed my bags and hopped on a bus for the lower mainland. Things seemed pretty good. I got a job at a gas station working in the evenings, enrolled in an accelerated program for school to make up for time lost, and amassed a pretty large group of friends fairly quickly. My brother and I drank regularly and smoked pot, but by this point this was the norm for me. After a while my brother bailed on me and I had to find new lodging.
I started renting a place in New West with a girl I was going to school with. Relationships became an issue and she ended up moving out after about six months. That’s when I realized I couldn’t trust anyone and the rest of the world was more screwed up than me. I had someone move in that was using heroin, a girl in AA that was constantly drunk, and a few other memorable tenants that made up the gongshow of the next few months.
Eventually my brother became dislodged from his new venture and needed somewhere to live. I needed a roomie so it was my turn to take him in. After a chaotic year and my graduation, we’d had enough of New West and decided it was time for a fresh start somewhere that our substance abuse and obnoxious attitudes weren’t so out of the ordinary. We moved to Surrey.
I was renting a four-bedroom house with my brother and a group of friends and still working evenings in New West. Walking home at night through Whalley really made drugs apparent to me in a new way. I’d never been on the street, and drugs in my past had always been associated with parties. I became pretty desensitized to seeing drug use and people staggering around high. Eventually, as history played itself out again like it always does in addiction, my brother and roommates took off and I was left at yet another crossroads in my life. I ended up moving into a place in South Surrey with my girlfriend at the time and starting a new job in a warehouse there. We were both heavy drinkers and, needless to say, things didn’t turn out so well. We ended up parting ways rather disagreeably. I started missing work a lot, got fired, and then ultimately got kicked out of my place.
One of my childhood best friends from the island just so happened to have moved to Surrey and he took me in. Things were good again. After a month I got another job and we were doing great. We were living in an apartment and making friends with other tenants. One of my new found ‘friends’ was a guy upstairs named Mike. He didn’t work, always had money, and smoked a ridiculous amount of weed. Of course, I ended up spending most of my free time there. I found out fairly quickly that Mike was a cocaine dealer. He had a kid running around for him and I decided that he was who I wanted to be. He offered to let me work for him, so, after a lot of coaxing, I quit my job and began the next stage in my eventual decline. He helped me get my license and offered me all kinds of false hopes and beliefs that this was my true calling and everyone else was ignorant and cowardly for not taking risks.
My greed, ego, and other defects were at an all-time high. Before long, I had a car, was living with Mike, and was a full-time drug dealer. But I got restless. The money and false friends didn’t fill the void in me like I thought they would, and I was miserable. I couldn’t drink, as I was always driving, and only had my ‘N’. Weed wasn’t cutting it anymore. I started to experiment with cocaine. As far as my boss was concerned, I was in no way allowed to use it, so I started off small but pretty quickly I became an expert at hiding the fact that I was high. I would get home and go straight to my room, avoiding contact with anyone as much as I could. My brother was living a few blocks away with a girlfriend so parties over there would be a constant thing. This lasted a full year until about a week before Christmas. I had started stealing drugs and money and was pretty much always high well beyond any hope of hiding it. My clothes were usually dirty and there were bloody rags stashed all over my room from the constant nosebleeds. My boss had had enough. In the middle of the night he threw me out with the clothes I had on my back and my car keys.
I had lost everything and didn’t know where to go, so I went to my brother’s again. After about a week there and a drunken drug-fuelled Christmas, my mom drove in from Abbotsford to get me. Things started to get a little better again. I got a job at a local warehouse. I couldn’t stand the work and it was hard on my body after all the drug use, but it paid the bills. I wanted to get out of my mom’s basement ASAP so I kept it up. After about four months I found a similar warehouse with better pay out in Cloverdale and that was my out. I had still been partying over at my brother’s in Surrey on weekends, but after his girlfriend gave birth to my nephew, things started falling apart. He needed a new place in Surrey and I had a new job closer to that area so it was time to head back to the old stomping grounds. Bad idea! It only took me a month to reconnect with my old drug boss and stop going to work at the warehouse. Even better, he said if I worked for him again he didn’t care if I used as long as I paid for it all. I felt like a kid in a candy store. After a month of staying up every night and selling about a $1000 a day of cocaine, things were backsliding quite a bit, as I’m sure you can guess. I started stealing again to support my habit. Whenever my brother would bring up my habit I’d just go buy him alcohol to support his. He didn’t know what he was talking about anyways. He had been an alcoholic way longer than I’d been using. So who was he to tell me I had a problem?
After two short months of this, I weighed 125 pounds and was constantly getting ulcers and sores in my nose from snorting drugs. The worst part is that I was the only one with a car, so whenever my nephew needed to come for a visit I’d go get him and drive him back to my place. Half the time I was high. My brother would be playing with him in the living room and I’d hear him yelling “uncle, uncle” but I’d be hiding in my room, high and shaking. I’ll never get that time back. Luckily, my boss got fed up and fired me again. I was cut off from drugs, so I just started drinking all day with my brother. I’d drink with him until he passed out and then drive to a friend’s house and keep going. This carried on until I smashed up my car into numerous parked vehicles one night. I had lost my income, my car, and wouldn’t have rent for another month in my place. I didn’t know what to do. So one night after a long bender I took every pill I could find in my house, wrote a goodbye note to my brother, and left the house. For some reason, I called my mom to say goodbye and she called the police. Somehow they found me and after a night in the hospital, almost dead, I got to go home.
I still didn’t know what to do. My mom convinced me to go to church with her, so for the remainder of the month she would drive out on Sundays to get me and I’d go to church in Abbotsford with her. I thought I’d found the answer! If I went to church, maybe my mom would take me in again. At the end of the month, all my stuff went into storage and she dropped me off at the Sally Ann Shelter. I was terrified and ticked off. Why wasn’t God helping me? Why wasn’t my mom helping me?
After four days in the shelter, I met a few people, had managed to get fall down drunk and lost and again felt like I was alone and helpless. Someone from my mom’s church picked me up the next morning and brought me to the Psalm 23 recovery house. I didn’t know what to think but by this time I was willing to try anything. I’ll never forget my first night at Sevenoaks Addiction Recovery. I came in thinking it would be the longest two hours of my life. After a few amazing testimonies and being able to spill my guts a bit about how I felt I left ARM feeling amazing and smiling like a fool. But by the time I got back home I was convicted. I rolled around most of the night thinking about all the terrible things I’d done, not being able to fall asleep. Finally, I clued in. I looked up and told God I finally got it and I asked for forgiveness. I felt a huge warmth rush over me. My mind went blank and I fell asleep smiling. For the first time in my life I woke up smiling. After coming to Psalm 23, I’ve found joy and peace I’ve never had before. I’m now the senior in the house and I can honestly say that God gave me a new nature. I stand here tonight a changed person and I owe it all to sympathetic strangers and this room at ARM. To anyone new or unsure in your walk all I can say is just keep coming back because God works in this place. Thanks for listening to my story and I wish everyone a good night and a sober life.