How to ask for assistance and begin your journey to recovery
Amy called her brother, Tom, every morning. Only a year and a few months apart, the two had grown up as inseparable best friends, climbing trees together and getting into mischief as children in northern Ontario. Over the years, Amy had blossomed into an intelligent, sociable young women, joining the student affairs committee in high school and graduating with distinction from a prestigious post-secondary institution. Tom, on the other hand, grew more quiet, serious and withdrawn, preferring time alone to time spent with friends – or his beloved sister.
Amy moved away for work, periodically coming home. But without fail, she called her brother daily. It was habit. It was love. And eventually, it was to make sure he was still alive.
“(I remember) the first time I came back from a business trip to Europe, and I decided to go back to see my parents and Tom before heading home,” recalls Amy. “Tom was pale, and I don’t know, shaky? Or uncomfortable, or something. Something was off, but I thought, ’Oh, he’s just sick.’ It didn’t occur to me that something was happening.”
Amy can’t remember exactly when Tom stopped answering his phone. Sometimes he would call her back, while sometimes it would take days to reach him. Inquiring with their parents proved
useless; they half-heartedly assured Amy that Tom was just busy and had probably grown out of talking on the phone with his little sister. When they finally admitted to Amy that they too, rarely saw Tom – and weren’t even sure where he was living or where he was currently working – Amy panicked.
“I got in touch with one of Tom’s very few friends and found out where he was staying,” she says, “and I flew home right away. I was shaking. I just had this eerie feeling – you know that lump you get in the pit of your stomach?”
In a one-bedroom apartment in a less-than-desirable part of town, Amy found her brother.
The door hadn’t been locked; it swung open without force. Amidst chaos – clothes strewn over furniture, dishes and empty paper cups spilling from the sink, a rancid smell permeating the walls – Tom lay face flat on the floor. Amy discovered soon after he’d used up the last of his heroin. He had vomited and then lost consciousness on his way out the door.
Three days later, Amy was driving her brother to a 28-day rehab program near her home. Tom completed all 28 days.
Three months later, he was using again. Three months after that, Amy enrolled him into a program, again on her dime. He chose not to complete it, leaving the facility one afternoon.
“After that, I had to make a choice,” says Amy. “I love my brother more than anything in the world. But while he was unwilling to make lasting changes, I needed to love him at a distance. I still see what I did (enrolling him in rehab) as love, but looking back, he wasn’t ready. He didn’t want it. I could support him and love him and say to him, ‘I’m here when you need me,’ but I recognized that this situation was just a landmine.”
“How do you ask for help again when you pretty much spit in the face of everyone who ever offered it to you?” muses Tom. Now six years sober, he’s a freelance photographer and a father of one. Looking back at his story, he says it’s almost unbelievable, if not for the grave recollections of his loved ones who clearly remember Tom’s darkest times.
It’s hazy, Tom says, exactly when he knew he needed help. But it took time to gather the courage. One late evening, as he sat on his mattress and looking out onto a noisy street, he shakily dialed his sister’s number.
“Amy?” he gasped on the phone. “Amy… I need help. I need help.”
Amy was in her car within minutes and drove to her brother, keeping him on the phone for the entirety of her trip. Tom sobbed, the apologies barely escaping his lips. Amy’s knuckles were tight on the wheel; she was devastated for her brother and how far down he’d slid, and yet indescribably grateful for this moment.
“He’d come so far,” Amy says. “The takeaway from this, for anyone in recovery and anyone who loves someone who needs recovery, is that there’s one single requirement of them and one of you. The person needs to genuinely want help. And maybe they’ll come around later rather than sooner, but your requirement as the loved one is to have compassion. Whatever that looks like for you is going to be different than it was for us. But compassion is key. It’s necessary.”
Asking for help
Every story, every person, every addict is different. Some addicts need to hit rock bottom, losing everything – family, friends, and finances – before they realize they need help. Others need less of a tragic nudge.
Everyone arrives at the decision to get help differently. What matters is you’re there – you recognize you need the support, and even if you got to your addiction alone, you’re going to need support getting out.
How do I know I’m ready?
These are some of the signals that might help you come to the decision you need assistance:
- You admit you have an addiction
- You hate what your addiction has done to you and your family
- You’ve lost your job
- Your friends have turned away from you
- You’re experiencing deep depression, anxiety and are thinking about suicide
- You know you can’t do this on your own
- You want to quit
How to find assistance and start your journey to recovery
First, you must understand that no matter what your addiction has led you to do – no matter how much you’ve hurt yourself or others – you are worthy of redemption and healing. You deserve the best possible treatment for your individual condition.
You have options. There are 12-step programs all over the world to assist you, whether you’re battling a narcotic, alcohol or process addiction. There are similar support groups, help lines, self-help books, and mental health professional organizations all geared toward helping you find recovery.
But one of the most powerful and effective treatments for addiction is an inpatient rehab program, like those offered at Cedars at Cobble Hill. At a facility such as this, you will be led through an extensive medical assessment which is designed to evaluate your personal biological, psychological and social factors that will help you get on the road to recovery.
Tom, who continues to seek therapy once a week and who has maintained his health over the past six years, credits inpatient rehabilitation for his success. “A progressive disease like addiction needs that kind of concentrated care – I honestly don’t believe anyone can get over addiction alone,” he says. “Inpatient treatment is a huge, huge start. It’s where you regain your sense of self, where you’re reminded you’re a human being capable of change and deserving of a chance.”
If you are ready to start your journey to recovery, call us at 1-866-716-2006 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a family member concerned about your loved one, please visit our interventions page to learn how to make the first steps towards their recovery.