My life before recovery had always been chaotic and unmanageable.

My whole life I felt like I was chasing something but I never knew what that something was until I took my first drink. At age 13 was when I first experienced what is was like to be intoxicated. My friends and I shared a bottle of what I like to call nail polish remover. Whatever people had told me about drugs and alcohol had me in a lot of fear of ever experimenting with any kind of substance. I Disregarded what I had been told by my parents, teachers and authority figures I decided to drink. My friends were older than me, so whatever they did I wanted to do it too. When I drank I felt a part of something, my friends accepted me and I accepted myself. Drugs and alcohol are just a symptom of the disease.

My abnormal childhood behaviours manifested into my adult life. Those behaviours were always there, my family never taught them to me.

All my life I was self-centered, a thief, mass manipulator, dishonest and angry. This caused me to get suspended from school, expelled and in the principal’s office on a regular basis. For those reasons, my parents decided to send me to a program for troubled teens in Kelowna where I spent 6 months repeating the same defiant behaviours. When I returned my life became even more chaotic. Drugs and skipping school became my main priority. When I got expelled from high school I felt joy instead of guilt and shame. “I was free”, I thought. At age 15 I was expelled, homeless and my addiction progressed into harder substances. My body became malnourished my weight dropped to 90 pounds. My destructive patterns had me arrested multiple times for disturbing the peace, breaking and entering, theft and vandalism. If anyone told me to do something I would do the exact opposite.

My family decided that it would be best for me to live somewhere else for a while so I moved in with a family friend for 6 months. During this time my excessive drug use had subsided, my weight improved and I was accepted back into high school. My life had improved from reckless rebellious teenager to actually giving a shit. My family even accepted me back into their home! At this time my parents separated. This did not come as a surprise to my sister and I. Even though I was not consciously destroying my life anymore I still partook in partying on the weekends and getting myself into trouble from time to time. When I graduated from high school my first reaction was excitement and then my second reaction was, “what now?”.

My life spiralled into a fear of not moving forward with my life. Not knowing what to do and who to be. I stayed stagnant.

This resulted in me using more regularly and eventually daily and then hourly. As long as I was under the influence everything was okay. My guilt, shame, stress and pain I felt inside disappeared. When the party stopped I continued. This caused me to lose jobs, connection to my family and friends my dignity and self-respect. Stealing from family members, doing things I said I would never do I kept pushing my own morals and values until there was nothing of me left. Isolated and alone

I made the decision to ask for help. Making that decision was the scariest and toughest decision I ever made in my life but it was also the most rewarding.

My stay at Westminster House was challenging at times. My behaviours were examined and I felt raw, drugs were my identity. Letting go of my defiant ways I became too see some hope.

People genuinely wanted to see me do well, I made amazing friendships with women that are still in my life today.

women to recover

Susan Hogarth Executive Director and Marquis O Westminster House Alumni

We connected on recovery, we laughed until we cried I had never experienced that much joy while being sober. My connection to people and the world around me became brighter. My parents gained their daughter back, I became a present sister.We participated in a structured routine that involved, 12 step meetings, group therapy, health and wellness, spiritual and cognitive behavioural therapy.

This facility teaches you a new way to live, self-respect, love and dignity.

All I ever wanted was to be accepted by people and to feel like I fit into this world. When I was in my addiction it was a cry for help, Westminster House saved my life. Today I still consider Westminster House my second home. They taught me basic life skills along with coping skills, awareness of myself and others. The lessons I learned while being in treatment will stay with me for the rest of my life. The love I feel inside my heart today is a high no drug could ever give me. My hopes, dreams and goals are obtainable today.

My stay in treatment was 7 months and I still continue on my path of recovery by volunteering my time to help however I can. The staff, clients and alumni are welcoming to everyone they meet. Everyone has compassion and unconditional love for the person next to them. My sobriety date is June 2nd, 2015. When I got clean I thought that my life was over, but I realised I had only just begun.

My suggestion is to take a leap of faith, you are worth recovery and a life beyond your wildest dreams. If you’re willing to do the work you will lose the desire to use and find a new way to live.