Using drugs and alcohol helped me cope while I was in crisis but I could see that I was sinking into deeper kinds of trouble. It wasn’t helpful to have people judge and write me off as an addict. What was helpful was learning about harm reduction strategies. Harm reduction aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour. It involves a range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families and communities to be safer and healthier. Yes I am still using but I have support now to reduce the harm of addiction.

Learning about addiction helped me see how I was hurting myself. Knowledge truly is power. I was just delaying dealing with my issues because I was afraid and didn’t want to think about what had happened to me. I had to break through my own denial and I had to be ready to do that. Sobriety is my choice.

The catalyst for me came the day I was home alone with my baby daughter and I passed out. When I came to she was whimpering because she had been crying alone in her crib for so long that she had given up hope of anyone coming. I could imagine how she felt. I still feel sick when I think about this. I realized that getting straight for her is a good enough reason to stop. I joined a twelve-step group and have not used since. Don’t wait for the most horrible thing to happen.

I fill the hole by shopping. People think this is not a serious addiction but I can tell you that I have burned through two marriages because of it. I had to hit a bottom where I realized that my problems would always be there waiting for me and that I really do want a better life. Things started to change when I admitted that I had an addiction.

I think I have been addicted to abusive relationships since I was a kid. I didn’t believe I deserved anything better and really it was all that I knew. I started paying attention to other kinds of relationships of people around me. I finally realized that I want peace in my life. This means I have to make different choices about who I am involved with. I got counselling and it has helped. I stayed single for a long time and got into a better relationship with myself. I think this was my first big step toward a better life.

I journal every day to stay in touch with my feelings and thoughts. It is a safe place for me to be free and honest about what is happening. This has been an important strategy for me – getting in touch with myself on a daily basis.

Learn more about yourself and it can help you not to feel so abnormal. I am not so different from you, we all have our struggles.

I joined a twelve step program and have found faith again in a higher power. This just means that I can surrender my life to a larger force. For me, this power is life itself. Life is amazing and powerful. It brings me what I need to learn and grow. I just have to want to learn and grow. I make that commitment on a daily basis, it is a discipline that works for me.