I grew up in rural Manitoba. The drinking culture is pretty heavy in Canada, but it’s definitely a little heavier here in the prairies. So growing up in rural Manitoba, drinking was just what you did. I also have a military background. I’ve been serving for almost thirty years now with 2 tours in Afghanistan. After both deployments my drinking increased in frequency and quantity.
I’m a Colonel in the military, and it’s a pretty demanding position to be in. I’ve also had some pretty heavy tragedies in my life over the last 4 years as well. My daughter commited suicide 4 years ago and my marriage at the time was disolving. Then, last summer, my girlfriend and I moved to Winnipeg, and 4 days after getting here I found her hanging in the closet. All that was crammed together in a very short period of time, and even before all that I had been drinking way too much. My spouse and family members had been saying that it was getting a little bit out of control. I knew this myself, but I wasn’t doing anything about it.
Near the end it got really bad. I would start my day with a couple of drinks to steady me out and begin work, but I’d be running out to my car to have drinks during the day. This probably started creeping in shortly after my daughter passed away, but it was becoming more of a daily event. Any book you want to read on the progression of drinking, you know, you can put my name all over it.
So I had this little Yorkie Terrier who was getting pretty old. I’d had him for 13 years. One weekend he pretty much started dying from the inside out, throwing everything up. The next day I had to put him down. I was pretty drunk when I left from putting him down, and I got picked up for impared driving.
So the next day I’m up in front of 3 generals and they’re saying, “We’ve done everything we can for you. We really recommend that you get yourself cleaned up, and we’re going to give you all the resources you need to get healthy, so please take advantage of it. We can’t make you do it, but we strongly advise you to.” So that for me was my rock bottom..
I don’t know how deep a person has to go, but to me it was the specter of… here’s a chance to get clean, and if I don’t I’m going to basically be forced into retirement and then pick up the pieces. I’m like, okay you know what… I.. I gotta do it. If I don’t I’ll end up dead. I’ll wind up killing myself or someone else in a car accident. Or, I’m just going to eat myself up, you know, like poison myself to death. So at that point I decided to become clean.
We started looking for places to go, and I had it narrowed down to 4. The biggest thing for me was having internet access and a single room. You know in some of these places you’d have to be paired up with somebody, and a lot of these places want to cut you off from the world. No internet access cuts me off completely from business transactions that I need to get done, and to continue to talk to people that I choose to talk to. I think that was a key part in a lot of this. I knew the military was willing to pay whatever I needed to get healthy. So I wanted a place where I could have a private room and internet access.
A Perfect Fit
I looked at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre and honestly, the facilities! It is kind of the platinum club of treatment centers! I’ve lived in Victoria before, and knew I’d be escaping Manitoba in the dead of winter. When it came down to cost being no factor that was the final thing. I said Sunshine Coast Health Centre is the place for me.
I didn’t leave the next day to the Sunshine Coast Health Centre. I was supposed to go in mid November, but I had plans lined up all through December. They allowed me to push it off until January and I kept drinking right up until the day that I went into Detox. Now, I’ve been sober since the 17th of January.
You know, at Sunshine Coast Health Centre they treat you like an adult. They’re gonna give you everything they can for you to become healthy but YOU have to make that choice and YOU have to hold yourself accountable. If you want to continue to have conversations with people that do nothing to help you get healthy, or continue to facilitate the lifestyle you were living that’s your call.
So I got there and I was initially going to do 45 days, but I decided to stay for another 15 because I wanted to get this. I loved the Meaning-Centered Therapy model they had there! I said this is a fit. I’m a very analytical thinker, and when you combine the Meaning-Centered approach with the SMART Recovery meetings they would take us to, and all the other modes of therapy they offered, it worked really well for me. They even had these massages and meditation that helped to relax my mind and body. It was a whole package that was absolutely perfect for me!
I left Sunshine Coast Health Centre in a really good spot. After leaving I continued with attending SMART Recovery meetings every Saturday, and I’ve actually become a SMART facilitator, I surround myself with people like my girlfriend who has been sober with me the entire time. Surrounding myself with family and friends and loved ones that are understanding and supportive has made a big difference. It’s a very supportive environment that I’m in.
There is also a difference in the way I’m experiencing life. I’m not stuck waking up and wanting a drink. I used to spend $1000 a month on liquor, and fortunately I can afford it, BUT I’M SPENDING $1000 BUCKS A MONTH AFTER TAX ON LIQUOR!!! So now, after my meeting on Saturdays I go up and I buy myself a new dress shirt or a new pair of pants or something. So my wardrobe is great! My girlfriend and I are going out to all kinds of sporting events and the theater and I don’t feel it in my pocketbook, because I’m not boozing it. I wouldn’t go to these things prior to being sober, because I would plan my days and events around when I’m going to get a drink. Now, it’s about waking up jazzed and excited to start the day and really being able to enjoy every part of it.
So I just turned 50 this past Summer and you know, there is a difference there. You know, I wish I would have done it a decade ago, but quitting at 50 is good, and I’ve regained a joy in life because I’m not stuck in the bottle!