Village of Hope Stories – Sabrina


Sabrina’s story: “Without Dave Smith, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. Jess would be gone. I don’t think she would be alive today.”

Jess started using drugs at 15. We had moved to another city, where she met a new group of friends who were experimenting. I didn’t even know at first that she was using. She just started losing a lot of weight and acting out, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. I’d go into her room to wake her up in the morning for school and instead of finding her in her bed, I’d find stuffed animals under her covers.

When I finally did find out that she was using hard drugs – some of her friends were concerned about Jess and told me – I didn’t even believe it at first. My daughter? Meth? There’s no way. Finally, I couldn’t deny it any longer.

I tried tough love: I gave her a choice — go to rehab or leave the house. And when I gave her that choice, she left. I had to watch my 15-year-old daughter pack a little bag and walk out my door. I don’t even know how I survived that.

After Jess left, I managed to befriend some of the people in her new circle – people that I never would have wanted to associate with. But I figured if I could get to know them, I’d always have a phone number to call if Jess didn’t answer her phone. That happened a lot. And some of them seemed to sense that Jess didn’t belong where she was. They’d scramble around to try to find her and contact me to tell me where she was, and that she was OK. I’m really blessed that I had that connection.

One of these people—a 26-year-old guy she’d been hanging around with – helped convince Jess to stay at Dave Smith when we finally got her into treatment, and she was threatening to leave. They made a deal that if she stayed, he would also try to get clean, so I drove him to a facility in North Bay 10 hours away. And he stayed clean too. It was just a blessing.

Jess tried three other facilities before we found Dave Smith, and they weren’t a good fit for her. She also wasn’t ready. I figured Dave Smith would be perfect because it’s for youth, and she finally agreed to try it. For the first three weeks, she kept wanting to leave. It was really, really, tough, because I thought I was going to lose my daughter again. I really did. And I blamed myself because all this started after we moved.

By the grace of God, she stayed. And while Jess was at Dave Smith, I felt like I finally had some support. I knew I wasn’t alone. I drove from Waterloo to Ottawa every single weekend because I wanted Jess to know I was there for her. I had to show her that I was invested in this as much as she was – Dave Smith was saving my daughter’s life.

The Centre has had such a positive influence on Jess’s life because I can see that when she does struggle, her first thought is not, ‘oh, let me go get high,’ which it used to be. She has the tools now to cope in more positive ways. She does yoga breathing techniques. She’s studying Buddhism. And she still has her notebooks from Dave Smith that she’ll go through.

Without Dave Smith, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. Jess would be gone. I don’t think she would be alive today. When she was using, her personality completely changed. Friends and family were always so important to Jess but when she was using, she became rude and mean. She was lost and wanted no part of family and friends anymore. It was devastating to watch my beautiful, caring daughter transform into someone I didn’t even recognize.

When Jess went to Dave Smith, she came back to herself. She found her love of school again. Seven years later, she is working and saving money to travel after she’s done university. She has all these goals and plans that she’s fulfilling that she didn’t have before. Dave Smith brought me back my daughter and saved her life – and mine, too. I will be forever grateful to DSYTC!

Sabrina is the proud parent of Jess, an alumnus of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.


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