by Carole Fawcett
Jacob grew up in a middle class family and was 12 years old when he started smoking weed and drinking. He said he believes his brain is wired for addiction and explained that anything he did, he did it to the extreme. He shared that he smoked an entire bag of weed when he was 12 – not being able to stop. At ages 14, 15 and 16 he used a variety of drugs and also sold weed at school to earn money so that he could support his drug habits.
At one point he was in a four year relationship with a woman who overdosed on methamphetamine and heroin and who died as a result. Jacob says he could have died that same night, as he also had tried the combination of meth and heroin.
He was very involved with music and was a well known DJ, running the music for many large festivals and events in the Okanagan Valley. “I had what appeared to be a good life – from the outside looking in” he said. He had a nice vehicle and all the material things he could want.
Then it was all gone as his drug addiction took over. He was brought back to life with Naloxone several times in one weekend. He lost his job, his assets (including his vehicle) and any self esteem he did have, plummeted lower. “I lost everything. I borrowed my Dad’s car so that I could drive drug dealers around, helping them to deliver their drugs so I could earn some money. Dad didn’t know I was doing this.”
He began to steal from family and friends, committed fraud with banks and was involved with other crimes in order to support his habit. When he was 27, he was sent to jail for six months in the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.
Jacob shared He said there was no difficulty in obtaining alcohol or drugs while he was imprisoned. He asked his parents for money so that he could buy personal necessities from the canteen while in prison and they sent him $100/week. Unbeknownst to them, it allowed him to continue to keep himself in drugs and alcohol. He said he came out of jail just as addicted as when he was originally incarcerated.
He was released and then was mandated to phone Bill’s Place (treatment centre) daily as he waited for a bed. He stayed with his Dad and his Dad had agreed with the Court’s request, to observe and listen to him phoning the treatment centre every day. During this time six of his friends died of overdoses of drugs that contained fentanyl. It was a difficult and challenging time for Jacob.
Eventually a bed opened up at Bill’s Place and Jacob said says “I went for the wrong reasons – but I was lucky, and it worked.” He shared that he detoxed cold turkey and it took “three weeks of hell.” He shared that the people at Bill’s Place “were there for me in every single way.” He said he was taught “emotional fluency” at Bill’s Place which was “one of the keys to why I am who I am today.”
In March 2017 he had to return to Court . “I received one of the many gifts of recovery. When I was standing in front of the judge, and got sentenced to remain in treatment instead of going back to jail, I realized that by trying my best to be good to myself and others, and trying to live life as a better person, good things come back to me. I realized that if I got out of my selfish ways and tried to be selfless as often as I possibly could, not only would good things happen to me, but I would feel better about myself and what I was doing. That was probably the tipping point that lead me to being the person I am today. That was the start of my shift of perspective.”
He learned how to ask for help, realizing that while help was available, he would still have to do the actual work himself. He apologized to his Dad and to others he may have hurt.
He stated that “Treatment changed who I am. I am a totally different person now than I was and I learned to ‘just do the next right thing’, as it leads to a path of where I needed to go.”
After being in treatment for eight months, he found his own place to live. He said it was difficult to be on his own at first, but he knew that he could phone Bill’s Place and speak to anyone whenever he needed too.
Jacob plans to help others on their journey of becoming free of their addiction as his goal is to become a program coordinator within Turning Points Collaborative Society. . Currently he is employed at one of the shelters run by Turning Points in Vernon, BC.
He is in a relationship that includes being a step-dad and is looking forward to getting married this summer to his girlfriend of two years.