Drug and alcohol addiction has many faces with people of all kinds backgrounds falling prey. From professionals with a Ph.D to teenagers, to the homeless addiction knows no bounds once it gets you into its grip.
It was my pleasure to interview Lisa, an articulate 31-year old, who graduated from the 12-month program at the Adult & Teen Challenge in Brandon, Manitoba. A compelling story of redemption in Christ.
1. What is your family, job, and/or education background?
Ph.D. Alternate Medicine, computer programming design, military, professional cooking. Family..2 children age 14 (has autism) and 9 (haven’t seen since a year old). Family of Origin…youngest of 4 girls from father’s first family, and now have half brother and a half sister; mother is deceased.
2. What one thing contributed to your drinking and/or drug use?
Difficult to narrow it down to one thing since there are many things. But for me the one that contributed to my downslide was the death of my mother. Six weeks after that I lost my job to recession. In Proverbs it says that an inheritance gained too early in life is a curse and not a blessing. That inheritance definitely led to my….
3. Were you affected by alcohol or drugs growing up? If yes, how?
For part of my life I lived in the Kootenays of British Columbia and it’s a very heavy drug scene due to the way it runs. My next door neighbour was a pot farmer. So certainly that was definitely an attribute for marijuana. My father often entertained guests and he fell very quickly into alcoholism in a socially acceptable manner and definitely binge drinking and stuff. And my oldest sister who is twelve years older than me fell into addiction. There is definitely a pattern throughout our family of addiction in our family, whether that be eating disorder, drugs, alcohol. My mother also had mental illness and she drank to excess. By the time I was in my teen years she’s blacking out and such.
4. What was the turning point where you realized you needed help?
I had a conversation with my father who told me to shape up or ship out. If I didn’t clean up and get rid of my relationship with my abusive boyfriend who is gang member and definitely get clean and then I would never see my half brother or my half sister again. And since he holds grudges I totally believed him. So I ended up googling for help. To answer the next question.
5. How did you hear about Teen Challenge?
The top hit for addictions help in Manitoba and Canada was Teen Challenge.
6. Have you attended any other rehabs before coming to Teen Challenge and or have you tried quitting using drugs and alcohol? If so, where? When?
Absolutely. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount. You should see my library of self-help books. I also struggled with mental illness in my life. So I was definitely involved in different psycho social rehabilitation programs. When I was a teenager I did a community assessment treatment program where I lived in a group home for a period of time. And had a few psychiatric visits which were less than ideal. But certainly those are sort of rehab but for drugs and alcohol rehab nothing particularly specific other than I did try 12-step AA. But I ended up coming home and using because I was all triggered!
7. What would you like to share with loved ones who try to help but find themselves totally helpless?
That’s a difficult question. The first thing I would say there is always hope. Not to enable them and absolutely support them with emotional support. You want to call me that’s fine. Don’t give them money. Otherwise it’s just spiralling it worse. The other thing I want to share is that it takes the addict themselves to want to get better. You can’t do it for them. And as hard as it is to watch eventually God will bring them to rock bottom. And then it becomes their decision.
8. Can you share some dreams you now have for your future?
Absolutely. One of the things I’m now working on is the emerging leaders’ program within Teen Challenge. It’s a method to work into leadership. And in addition I’m doing teacher certification training for PSNC and for doing that and I’m hoping to start into my Theological degree through Global University to one day become a minister.
9. What is your favourite Bible verse and what it really means to you?
My favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 which says “Be on guard, stand firm in the faith. Be courageous, be strong and do everything with love.” The reason why this really struck me is that it was love that brought me to become a Christian as an atheist. And that courage…a lot of my life I put this front on being okay, being strong, being ready for anything but really love, it’s the fulfilment of law. Really, I always joke. You can ask the Beatles, or Jesus and they’ll tell you all you need is love.
10. What’s interesting is that you chose Teen Challenge even though you were an atheist. How did you choose that?
Well, I was…nothing else in my life had worked so why not try God. I had tried every other avenue and, honestly, I was very desperate.
11. I hear that you are now on staff with Teen Challenge as an intern. What do you hope to gain from there?
As an intern I hope to continue grow in God and continue to build that solid foundation of knowing who I am in Christ. And continue to build my self-esteem which has been a pattern and difficult piece for me, and just be able to help others has really been the main reason I’m staying. To really make a difference in someone else’s life has always been a desire of my heart. I want my life to matter.
12. Thank you Lisa. That’s all the questions I have unless you have something else to share with the readers and anybody who may have or know somebody who has addiction issues.
If I can share one thing to give encouragement it would be determination. We are on the “I am Determined Tour”. We talk about freedom, and that freedom really can come from Christ. It’s not a cheesy one-liner. It’s the truth. If you really honestly give it to Christ and keep your focus on God. It’s not getting to say recovery; you’re getting to thriving. It’s an awesome life! It’s an abundant life!
If anyone you know who has alcohol and drug issues, please encourage them to get help. Do you know someone with addictions?