pot cannabis marijuana

04-16-2018

It all began very innocently…

I was fourteen when I smoked my first joint. I lived in an outlying region and it was our way of having fun among friends on the weekend. During the week, I studied hard, I got good grades, I was into sports and I had a good social life.

I had gotten a taste back then of what would eventually end up happening to me, but I didn’t really pay attention at the time. In my group of friends, I was the one who always wanted more, who always wanted to keep on partying (read Are We All Equal in the Face of Addiction?).

Five years later, I decided to pack up and head to Montreal. I did all sorts of small jobs, and though I had few opportunities to play sports, I had more and more opportunities to smoke pot. At the time, I thought pot helped me relax and it quickly became a daily routine. And, of course, the people I hung out with with were regular smokers too.

I was growing further and further away from my parents. I only ever called them when I was short on money - and that just wasn't me. They must have known that there was something wrong because they gave me a mini-intervention.

Do I have a problem?

When I went to visit my parents one weekend, they had the Portage website on their computer screen. They had done their research. I looked at some videos of residents and I recognized myself in their testimonials. For the very first time, I realized that I had a drug problem. I called Portage and made an appointment with an admission counsellor, but I didn’t follow through.

I probably felt that I wasn’t ready to enter a six-month treatment program given that I had never tried to stop using on my own. So I found another job through a friend, resolved to smoke less, and told myself that everything would be fine (read The Treacherous Pitfalls of Drugs and Alcohol).

 

pot cannabis marijuana

Because my tolerance to cannabis had increased over the ten years I'd been smoking, I tried something stronger: cocaine. After just a few months of recreational use, my cocaine consumption had become problematic. I lied to my boss, who was also my friend, and I robbed him so that I could buy more cocaine. I lost my job, of course, which was the worst thing that could have happened to me at the time.

 

 

Hell on Earth

While my intentions were good, my reality was somewhat cruder. Because my tolerance to cannabis had increased over the ten years I'd been smoking, I tried something stronger: cocaine. After just a few months of recreational use, my cocaine consumption had become problematic. I lied to my boss, who was also my friend, and I robbed him so that I could buy more cocaine. I lost my job, of course, which was the worst thing that could have happened to me at the time.

The night that I was fired, unwilling to deal with my feelings of shame and anger, I decided to get totally smashed. Beer, cocaine, and cannabis were my guests for the evening. An evening that ended at four in the morning, with me throwing up violently, until I finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. When I woke up, my feelings hadn’t changed from the night before, and that’s when I told myself enough is enough! I couldn’t go on living like this, I wasn’t happy and I wanted a way out.

 

pot cannabis marijuana

 

I opened my wallet and saw that I still had a Portage business card, all clean and white. Strange to say, it was the only card I hadn’t torn up to use as a filter for a joint. I stared at it for a long time. It was as if I was being given carte blanche. I was fully empowered to accomplish this task: break free from addiction.

 

 

 

A pristine white card

I opened my wallet and saw that I still had a Portage business card, all clean and white. Strange to say, it was the only card I hadn’t torn up to use as a filter for a joint. I stared at it for a long time. It was as if I was being given carte blanche. I was fully empowered to accomplish one task: break free from addiction.

So I left for Lac Écho, where I learned how to take care of myself and how to live drug-free again. Fitting into the community was not always easy. At first, I often compared myself to others, but then realized that I was in fact struggling against my own self because I couldn’t accept the fact that I was an addict. One day during the program, something finally clicked and I decided I would never take drugs again.

 

Becoming a Drug Addiction Counsellor

At the end of my program, while I was in aftercare, a few counsellors mentioned to me that there was an opening for a six-month contract as a counsellor at the Portage Day Centre. Having always worked in group facilitation and in a community environment, I decided to interview for the position. I got the job and I’ve been with Portage for three years now. I’m also finishing my addiction counselling certificate at the Université de Sherbrooke.

I feel privileged to work on the front line of Portage's program for adults. For the people who walk through our doors, as I did three years ago, the light has gone out of their lives. My role is to greet them with empathy and an open mind, to listen to them, and to prepare them for their integration into the Lac Écho community and the new life that awaits them. I can remind them with complete genuineness, that life is beautiful. I rekindle the light…

 

Lamplighter, David Bigras, Portage counsellor.

 

To view our campaign:

LEGALIZATION WON'T STOP ADDICTION. Let's be vigilant.

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