“When I was drunk I would try anything,” says Jesse of his torturous years of drug addiction. At the tender age of 11, he took his first sip of alcohol, succumbing to a heady feeling of peer pressure from his own babysitter. By the time he was 13, he was spiraling down a vortex of addiction to MDMA, cocaine, and anything else he could get his hands on.
It did not help that Jesse was also taking Ritalin for Attention Deficit Disorder or that his stepmother was a heroin addict who used a lot of prescription drugs. When she died, the drugs were still in the house, providing convenient access for young Jesse. His addiction led to petty crime to finance his abuse, including stealing from his workplace.
Jesse’s family recognised his pattern of self-destruction. ‟Dad knew what I was doing,” he says. “You see, my father was in AA, he was a crack head. My mom’s side are all users, so using with the family, I felt accepted. With my mother I would smoke pot and drink that was normal. And drinking with my dad’s side was normal.”
Jesse recognised that he did not want to end up like them. “That’s not how I want to live,” he said, as he decided to check himself into Portage Elora and begin his path to recovery.
Jesse found refuge in Portage. It was his safe haven where he was allowed to talk about how he was feeling and what he had been keeping inside; to be able to ‟clean out the garbage.” He appreciated the peer support structure, in which he could share his thoughts with the group or with another resident and get feedback from others who had been through the same sort of issues as he had. He also appreciated the recognition from residents who were further along in their rehabilitation treatment. ‟The guys in phase three would give out certificates of recognition [to the newer residents] for something you are doing right for yourself.”
Jesse attributes much of his success to a few of the staff members and volunteers who he identified with. ‟It’s natural for an addict to not trust people. So if you can find someone you feel you can trust that’s pretty special,” he explains. “Ken helped me out a lot [.…] I met with Father John and became an acolyte [….] When I got out of the program, George [an Aftercare Worker] stayed in touch with me and helped me out.”
Though he maintains a positive disposition, Jesse has no illusions about the nature of recovery. For him, every day is part of a continuous recovery. ‟It’s not easy, but if you want to make a difference in your life then do the program,” he says.
Jesse now lives with his grandparents and loves his job at a grocery store. ‟I get paid weekly. To get hours around here in the winter time is very hard. But I still get some hours. I also do demolition for a construction company. I’m keeping my head above water.” He is also enrolled in a college-level Insurance Broker course.