Former Addict Addresses the Wreckage of His Past

A man named Phil, smiling at the camera, assisting with sorting canned goods at a Salvation Army food bank
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“If you asked me two years ago if I thought I’d be alive now, I couldn’t imagine it,” says Phil, 45. “I had cocaine in my system and track marks from one end of my body to the other. I was so sick.”

For 30 years Phil, a banker by trade, maintained a veneer of normalcy while addicted to drugs.

“I come from a good family, had a university degree, a good job and a family,” says Phil. “But I was always using. I hid my addiction from everyone for a very long time.”

There came a point in his life when Phil couldn’t maintain the façade. He degenerated into a criminal and lost everything―his job, his house, his wife and children. He was convicted of robbery and thrown into jail. The crown asked for 10 years. After a five-day trial he was found not guilty on all counts.

“I walked out of the supreme court building with 10 cents in a bag and the clothes on my back,” says Phil. “I’d heard about The Salvation Army’s drug treatment program from a social worker while in prison. I was now faced with a choice―stick a needle in my arm or get help. I ran to The Salvation Army’s building, about six blocks away.”

The Anchorage addictions program at The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in Halifax is a six-month addictions recovery program. Participants learn about resources and strategies to support them in their sobriety. These include identifying challenges to recovery, developing healthy and positive lifestyles and coping strategies.

“Anchorage allowed me to address the wreckage of my past,” says Phil. “The program looked at the root of my addiction and how I could continue to arrest the addiction, on a day-by-day basis.

“I graduated from Anchorage and participate in aftercare. I’m no longer harming myself or others and am contributing to the society in which I live. I do that through volunteering at the Centre’s food bank. Volunteering helps keep me clean.

“I don’t wake up sick anymore. I wake up with a lot of hope.”