“Seven years later, I am living the life I only could have dreamed of as a struggling 16-year-old…”
I started doing drugs when I was 14 or 15. Some of my friends had told my mom, and then my mom went to look for all these rehab places I could go to. I originally went to one near where I live in Waterloo, but I didn’t like it much. I tried to run away and then they kicked me out. Then I went to a different one in Windsor, and I graduated from that program. But when I came back, I started doing drugs again. I dropped out of high school and stopped living at home.
Then my mom was talking with a bunch of people who told her about the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, and they encouraged her to try to get me to go there. Of course, I didn’t want to go. People kept telling me to treat it like a vacation – ‘just go and do your best and see if it works out for you, and just leave if it doesn’t work.’ So that was kind of my plan. I was going to go, then come home and start doing drugs again.
After I got to DSYTC, I didn’t want to stay at first. I used to always pack up my stuff and go to leave. And then one night about halfway through the program, I just thought, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m not going to leave. I might as well just keep trying and keep putting my all into it.’ The program really helped show me what my life could be if I stopped using, and what my life would be if I kept using. My therapist helped me realize that I had a lot buried down and it was helpful to come up with the reasons why I did drugs and why I wanted to stop. It motivated me to keep working at it.
“Before the program, I was almost a shell of the person I used to be…”
I really liked all the staff members – they’re so supportive. Talking with them was one of the things that got me to stay. They were awesome at calming me down when I was upset. They never made me feel I was lesser than them because I was there.
I was seven years clean on February 1, 2023. Dave Smith changed my life in ways that I never thought were possible. It was more than just a rehab facility: it was a safe haven that offered me a space to explore my identity and discover who I am as a person. I was able to identify my needs and boundaries and learn how to communicate effectively with others. This has allowed me to build strong and supportive relationships with my loved ones that continue to this day.
Before the program, I was almost a shell of the person I used to be. When I walked through those doors, I was at the lowest point in my life, and I felt there was no way out of my addiction. However, the staff at Dave Smith believed in me, and they helped me see that recovery is possible and they gave me the tools I needed to make it happen. Above all, they gave me hope.
“Dave Smith changed my life in ways that I never thought were possible…”
I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that attending Dave Smith opened up for me. Getting clean was, hands-down, the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, but it was so incredibly worth it. The things I learned at Dave Smith were invaluable and they contribute to helping me to this day. As a youth struggling with addiction, I found hope for a better life and future at Dave Smith, and seven years later, I am living the life I only could have dreamed of as a struggling 16-year-old.
Jess is a DSYTC alumnus who is now in her final year of studies at the University of Waterloo. Following her graduation at the end of summer, she plans to travel and make a pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago.
There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!
112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001