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A Mother’s Journey In Addiction


Watching your child suffer in active addiction is like watching them slowly dying in front of you.

My journey with my daughter was somewhat predictable for me as I had lived through ten years of addiction with my son.  By that, I mean the signs of addiction were clearer to me. I wasn’t as easily fooled or hooked in.  I tried not to take it personally when she would show up late for family gatherings or not at all.  By then I realized it was her anxiety around needing to use and being close to her home that would override her wanting to be part of a gathering or even just a meeting with me. Having said that, my heart would break every time I saw how much deeper she was sinking.

I volunteered at the Last Door Society, a treatment centre for men, where my son had cleaned up a few short years earlier; cooking for the clients was a way I could connect and give back.  When their numbers grew too big for me to manage meals for them, I turned my energy to Westminster House.  By that time, I had gotten to know some of the staff there.  I volunteered on several occasions and felt relieved that I could try and help someone else’s daughter if I couldn’t help my own.  I started helping out at the Parent’s Group and engaged friends to come and help with activities such as baking, knitting, painting, and each time I found myself in tears looking at these women of all ages struggling to make a difference in their own lives.

I kept praying that Courtney would find her way there.

It was at a meeting that one of the staff put a hand on my shoulder and said “She will find her way to the house”, and I kept trying to believe in that.  I knew it to be a safe and productive place for these women.  I admired the staff and their commitment to the well-being of the clients. At that time Westminster House was such a small space, and has since grown in numbers and housing.

Westminster House offers a safe place for women to recover and also rediscover their value and purpose in life.  I thank God everyday that there is such a place.

When Courtney finally admitted she needed help she was able to go to detox and then into Westminster House where she found a safe place to land and get her feet back on the ground.

Her grounding in Westminster House and her hard work and perseverance has rewarded her with 5 years clean for which I am truly grateful.

I had experienced numerous relapses with her brother and finally realized that until the addict is ready to get help for themselves, rather than doing it for the family, there would be a roller coaster of relapses.

It is hard to watch a loved one go through the steps of recovery, but even harder to watch them spiral downward into addiction.  Throughout her brothers struggle with addiction, counselling, group sessions, NarAnon meetings and the opportunity to study “Family Systems” helped me in my own recovery and to better cope with Courtney’s journey.

Both her and her brother stay committed to their recovery and to others around them and I have great pride in the two of them for having the courage to consistently do the work it takes in order to stay clean.

I feel this journey has given Courtney and I a much deeper appreciation of each other and brought us closer together. This is the gift of coming out the other side of addiction.

It is a beautiful gift from the addict to the family, the gift of recovery.

I will continue to support the great work Westminster House does for both the individual clients, the family and the community as a whole.


Darlene Galer

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