Six years ago Stetson was a very high functioning Vancouver businessman and father with a daily cocaine habit. Today he is recovering from his addiction.
Stetson, a pseudonym, is among the one percent of professionals in Canada who become addicted to street drugs.
When he was growing up Stetson’s family moved every couple of years and he felt like he didn’t fit in. In high school he discovered that alcohol made him feel more comfortable, funnier, better looking and popular. By his twenties he was a blackout drinker. By the time Stetson reached his mid thirties – a successful businessman, married with kids – he started hitting new lows. He was addicted to cocaine and his life was becoming increasingly unmanageable. This is his story.
Question: At what point did you think it necessary to do something about your addiction to cocaine?
Answer: I guess it was all my experience of heading to the Downtown Eastside; I knew it was a scary place to be, a depressing place to be. Although I was parking my BMW a few blocks away I felt that I was similar to the homeless, the destitute, and those who were spiritually, morally and emotionally bankrupt. And that all the external things I had, like a job, a car, a house, and so forth, were meaningless. My insides felt the same as their insides. It ultimately reached a point that I put myself in great danger down there many times. I was lucky I didn’t get knifed. I was lucky I didn’t get robbed. Certainly those were possibilities and ultimately I chose the drug over my own physical well-being.
Question: What was the turning point?
Answer: The turning point was when I had not been home for a couple of days and I was full of deep shame and guilt. I reached a point where I was going to kill myself or I was going to seek help and God only knows why I decided to seek help. I wanted to leave the life of misery I was living inside, that disguise I was wearing, where I was a white collared business person during parts of the day, and I was a hardcore alcoholic and drug user at other parts of the day.
Question: How did you do that?
Answer: I called my wife and then called my mother and within 48 hours I was in a treatment facility. I stayed six weeks and it allowed me to get mentally and physically clean for a period which is something that hadn’t happened in 20 years. More importantly, I learned that I could seek out other tools to deal with life and I continue to do this on a daily basis with a 12-step program which allows me to have a solution other than drugs and alcohol.
Question: Now that you have perspective on that, what is your worst memory?
Answer: Probably one of the lines I crossed was when I left my kids at home alone one night when my wife was away for the weekend. They were young. I went out for what I thought was going to be half an hour and I was gone for seven hours. I think that’s probably one of the low points. I blacked out and I left them alone. Obviously, the drug was more powerful than my sense of fatherhood at the time. My children are my joy and are extremely precious.
Question: If you could give a message to other people in a similar situation what would it be?
Answer: If you think that things are hopeless, well, there is a solution. Many have been through the same ugly, horrendous situations that you have, and seeking help is the first thing you can do, making that one phone call, reaching your hand out and saying, “I can’t do this anymore, live like this anymore.” And that is the first step to righting the ship on its proper course, and you can have the life you deserve to have.