Drug abuse – A one-sided game

Drugs play a one-sided, dangerous game. You think you’re in control, but you’re not.

I'm Lindsay and I'm an addict.

I was a casual drug user, drugs made me feel good and I was in control – I liked that. I was on a power trip.

Drugs play a game with you.  You think that you have it under control but drugs have other plans. They are going get you every time.

This game is one sided.   It starts slowly...you use once a month - you are still in control. You use that way for a couple of months and then something changes in your attitude - you get cocky. You start to think, "what's one more time gonna do?”

It all started about 6 years ago. I was doing drugs recreationally. I had everything under control. I was moving into this beautiful, 2-bedroom basement suite over looking the river and things were perfect. I did cocaine the first night I moved in.

Ever so slowly things got to where I wasn't working at all - just doing drugs.  I lived off my RRSP's.  I spent $45 000 worth of my retirement savings in just a few months.  Before long, I was looking for some other way to make money.  I slept with drug dealers. You know what sleeping with drug dealers does to you?  It lowers your morals, it lowers your values, and it lowers your inhibitions. I had reached an all time low, or so I thought.

Then I decided that drug dealing was the way to go. I did that for about a year. Besides getting ripped off with a gun or a knife the odd time, life was grand.  By this time I was smoking crack and I thought that smoking it and selling it was a good deal - man was I wrong!

I got further and further into my addiction. My life was spiralling out of control. I was tired, and I wanted out of the game and didn't know how to do it. I felt scared and alone.  So I went into Rehab.  It saved my life!

I was in Rehab for two months, then I trained to work there and landed myself a job. Life was grand again - or so I thought.

A few months later, I lost my job at the Rehab, and I moved back home.  On the way home, I relapsed and 8 months of rehabilitation went down the drain.

I didn't see any reason to stay clean... after all, I lost my job and my room at the Safe house, why should I?

Life continued to move slowly. I hung out a lot at my house with my girlfriend and we did drugs together - I thought I'd never hit my bottom again - After all, I’d been to rehab, I knew how to handle things. Wrong again!

When my girlfriend and I broke up, I was devastated for a while, but I wasn't going let it get me down.   I started working for my dad again and things were great. I started saving money! My priorities shifted. The drugs became less important.

I was 30 days clean and feeling that I was back on track again.

To celebrate, I went out and partied that night. I felt totally in control, like I could conquer the world. I don't know what made me smoke crack that night...maybe it was peer pressure, maybe it was the weakness of only having 30 days clean, maybe it was just to blow off steam. Whatever the case, I did it.

The next morning, I was feeling normal. I got a glass of juice and went to bed to sleep the day away.

About 2:00pm I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. I immediately fell to the floor. I thought my leg was asleep. I just brushed it off.

A few hours later I woke up again, and this time I really had to pee. I got up and fell back down to the floor again - this time I wasn't getting up.   I knew there was something wrong. Before I could even call for my parents they were already there, asking me what was wrong. They had heard the thump from downstairs. There I was, lying on my stomach on the floor.  The only thing I could say to them was, “Crack”.

They called an ambulance. After the paramedics came and assessed me, I was put on a gurney, covered up and taken downstairs to the waiting ambulance.

I had had a drug-induced stroke.  They took me to the hospital where I stayed for 15 days. It was all a blur.

While there I did rehab and got some of my speech back. I was still in a wheelchair, I couldn't walk or use my arm. Also, my vision was gone in one half of my right eye.

My mom and dad and brothers came every day like clockwork. They were a great means of support for me and still are. After the hospital stay, I was transferred to a rehabilitation unit.

There I learned how to go to the bathroom on my own and how to dress myself. I was feeling numb.  I had speech therapy every other day and physio five days a week. I had to learn how to speak again. This was step one; I had many more to go.

Throughout all this time the people that I partied with never went on Facebook to see how I was doing. They never tried to contact me even though we talked every day before I had the stroke – I guess I found out whom my friends really were.

I had a sponsor while I was in the rehab unit .  It was my friend, Elsje. She came and saw me once a week; I really looked forward to her visits. We went for coffee or we would just sit up in my room and talk. We even went to a meeting together and I got to tell my story.  She was one of the best friends a person could ask for. Elsje died suddenly of a heart attack not long after I got home.

3 and a half months after my stroke, I was finally able to take my first steps - they said I was going to walk again! I was ecstatic! I had come a long way!

I started off slowly - just walking from my room to the eating area - about 15 feet. I was elated, but I still had a long way to go. Soon I progressed to walking around the room - all the while accompanied by a nurse. I knew at this moment that I could do anything.

Then, just like that, it was time to go home. I packed up my things and headed on to the next chapter of my life. I remember having all my stuff packed and waiting for my dad to come. I was finally going home!

I felt so very proud of myself and everything that I had accomplished.

Through out it all it was my family and close friends that got me through, and for that I could never repay them. They mean the world to me, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart!

The stroke proves to me that taking drugs and thinking you have power is a farce.

I finally came to realize that all along I had zero control, that I was powerless against drugs. And thinking I could do it one last time was a futile and almost fatal move.

I’ve learned the hard way - that drugs can lead to stroke and in most cases, death.   But this is something you don’t have to learn the hard way, like I did.

It's your choice - stroke, heart attack or death.  If you abuse drugs, the path that you are on is going to kill you, one way or another.

There are no old addicts.

It's been 2 1/2 years of struggling, 2 1/2 years of hard life lessons.  I've been tempted many times... but every time I say to myself, "play the tape" and I relive my stroke all over again.  15 days in the hospital and four months in the rehab unit taught me one thing - don't take your life for granted.

There is hope. You have been given a second chance, a second chance at life. Seize that opportunity and grasp it with all your might. After all, consider the alternatives...................

--Lindsay's stroke was caused by the crack she took on that fateful night.  She was only 30 years old.   Two and a half years later, she has still not fully recovered.  She still has her only half her vision in her right eye, and she hasn't got the full range of movement in her right side.  She still is not working, and hasn't since the stroke. Lindsay is available to speak to disadvantaged youth and families about the effects of drug abuse.  

For more information, please contact DFK Canada at info@drugfreekidscanada.org and we will forward any requests on to Lindsay.