How Addiction took my Life on a Detour
Growing up on a Central Alberta dairy farm I never imagined that my life would take the detour that it did and that I would end up living on a beautiful Caribbean island. This is my my journey from cold and snowy Canada to the Dominican Republic; from dairy farmer to starting an addiction treatment facility in another country.
I had a normal childhood, Mom and Dad were dairy farmers and always around. My brother and 2 sisters were my closest friends growing up as we didn’t have neighbours close enough to play with. School, sports and anything I set my mind to were easily accomplished, it felt like the sky was the limit. In 2000 at the age of 22 and after a couple years of post-secondary education in the field of business I decided to marry my high school sweet heart and come home to the family dairy farm.
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It was shortly after coming home to farm that some injuries I had back when I was partying during high school flared up and became chronic back pain and headaches. I had fallen in a bar when I was drunk and smashed half of my teeth, I had fallen of a small cliff when some friends and I were hiking in the mountains. What I thought were just normal injuries at that age due to drinking and smoking pot, turned out to become a major pain when I was just starting to be an “adult”. And that is when the beginning of my detour took place although I didn’t know it at the time.
After almost 3 years of trying many alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture and healthier living to manage the pain, I was still relying on a lot of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to numb it just a little. Then my doctor decided to prescribe a narcotic painkiller (oxycontin) to use only occasionally if the pain was too much. Hallelujah! Even though I was knowledgable about how addictive it could be, I finally felt like I could live again. No aches, no pain a cool buzz! I thought I was in heaven as I could get high on doctors orders and be pain free. Little did I know that after 4 years of using only as I was prescribed that I would become hooked.
I started to become tolerant to the narcotics and then every refill wasn’t enough to get me to the next refill. I started to buy them off the streets but still couldn’t get enough to satisfy my appetite to get high and also numb the emotional and physical pain of stooping to this level. I was fortunate to still have my family (wife and 2 boys) and my career, but all of that was slowly slipping through my fingers and I didn’t know how or if I could stop.
It finally got to the point where my wife and parents had enough and so I agreed to go to rehab. I went for a month but at the time I only wanted to get my family off of my back and hoped I could learn to use my pills properly. Unfortunately with any addiction it is impossible to use occasionally, I had to learn that 1 pill was too many because 1000’s would never be enough. I started back on my pill habit within 2 weeks of leaving rehab and 6 months later my life was falling apart again. On January 26, 2012 I decided I needed to go back to rehab so my first day totally clean is January 27, 2012. But this time I went for myself and not just to please others.
During my second stint in rehab and and the first few months into recovery I started to reevaluate my life. I finally had a clear head, I was physically healthy again, I still had my family but I wanted to something different. I didn’t want to stay in my comfort zone and just be a dairy farmer for ever. After some long discussions with my wife we decided we were going to sell all our assets in Canada and move to the Dominican Republic to start an addiction treatment rehab. We wanted to give back in a way and help others as I was helped during my stays in rehab.
We opened up Always Hope addiction treatment center near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on September 15, 2014. It was a huge leap of faith that has been very rewarding. So far we have gotten to meet people from all over the globe both through the rehab and the amazing ex-patriot community we live in. My wife and kids are thriving and embracing this new adventure. I never could have imagined life would be like this.
Looking back on the detour my life took to get me where I am today I think back to how upset I used to be that I got addicted to pain killers. I say used to because I am grateful today that I did. I would never be living on a tropical island in paradise if my life never took the detour that it did. Today I look at all the blessings that have come my way because of it.