Joe's Story - Given Back My Life

My name is Joe. I started using alcohol & marijuana by age 12 and using ecstasy & cocaine by age13. At 13, I left school and began working. I was employed for 3 years but my using drugs continued to escalate until I lost my job. I then began a life of crime: stealing and selling drugs to support my habit. I continued this life for nearly 5 years until I finally could not function in everyday life.

In 2012, I was involved in trying to steal some construction equipment and I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Our vehicle slid off of a 35ft embankment on the way to Big White. I don’t remember much about the accident other than waking up in the truck and having to be pried out of the vehicle with a broken neck.

This was the first time I thought about changing my life but continued to use drugs for the next year while I lay in bed. My grandmother passed away and I became suicidal. On 2 occasions I attempted to take my own life. At this point I was living on the streets and had lost everything that I had, including myself. I decided that I had had enough of that life and called the Detox Centre (Withdrawal Management) in Kelowna.

After a few days in detox someone talked to me about going to the Discovery House, men’s recovery house. Although I was iffy on going into a recovery house one of the Bridges staff who had a family member go through Discovery House convinced me to go.

I spent one year as a client in Discovery House and learned a lot about myself. I currently have one year and one month clean from drugs & alcohol which is the longest time of sobriety I have had since I was 12 years old. Through Discovery House I was introduced to the 12 step fellowships of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. I have built a support network of caring people who I consider family. I have learned to function as a human being. The living routine & programming at Discovery House has taught me basic living skills like getting up, having a shower, making my bed, brushing my teeth, getting groceries and budgeting my money. All of the in house groups have helped me in some way or another even though I didn’t like them at times.

Two very nerve racking experiences were speaking as a guest speaker at the United Way “Sharing an Emotional Story” workshop, and at the Discovery House Anniversary dinner in front of a large crowd. I had never done anything like this before, and it was a very emotional experience. I experienced a lot of support and care afterward. I felt happy & cared for to the point of being overwhelmed. I had not experienced anything like this since I was in Elementary School. These were two very positive experiences.

When I left Discovery House I made a plan to live and work with people who are in recovery and have done both. Today I am living a life of honesty and integrity. I pay my way in life and have begun volunteering at Discovery House and doing service through the 12 step fellowships. There has been a history of addiction in my family and my being clean and in recovery has inspired others in my family to begin their own journey in recovery. Today I feel like an upstanding member of my community and that I am able to inspire people to begin a journey in recovery, especially young people.

I really looked forward to the group programming at Discovery House and learned a lot from it. I understand that many of our groups may not have been possible without the United Way support. I thank the United Way for their funding support to Discovery House, who have given me a life.