“I graduated a year early from high school, went to college at 17 to study medical esthetics, and now I’m about to graduate with a degree in Nursing. I would not have been able to do any of that without the coping skills I learned while I was at Dave Smith.”
Growing up, I lived in a pretty bad situation and I had to take care of myself and my little brother too. My parents were on drugs and I guess because of that, they weren’t really paying attention. There were nights where there was a lot of fighting, and we had to leave the house.
When I was in the ninth grade, maybe 14 years old, I started hanging out with a lot of older people. I would go to the smoking section at my old high school, where everyone was 18 or 19 years old, and that was where my downfall started. I started smoking cigarettes and sneaking out. I began to do drugs. One time I did drugs, early on, I had a complete breakdown and I was with a group of people I didn’t know. It was really bad.
After that, I was introduced to MDMA, or “Molly,” and it was the best thing I’d ever experienced so I started to do it a lot more. I would go out of my way to get it. There I was, at 14 years old, busing downtown to pick up drugs and come back. I also had a big alcohol issue. I would bring bottles of wine and a corkscrew with me to school. I always had vodka in water bottle. Nothing I did was enjoyable unless I was high or drunk.
My parents started to notice that I had changed. They put a tracker on my phone. Wouldn’t let me leave the house after dark. I didn’t have any privacy – and that made things worse. I’d sneak out and leave my phone behind. I would do anything.
One night, though, I took some prescription medication that wasn’t mine. I took a huge dose, not realizing, when I didn’t feel anything at first, that it was extended-release drug. I started hallucinating, and I ended up in the hospital in cardiac arrest and having seizures. I almost died. The next day, the doctor provided my parents with information about rehab – and that’s how I landed at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t have a choice since I was under 16.
At 14, I was the youngest person there, and I had a lot of setbacks. I insisted I was going to leave. I wouldn’t go to groups. I wouldn’t go to classes. I just lay in my bed and I didn’t care. But soon, it became quite clear that no one was going to come to get me. It was a rough transition, but eventually I started to get comfortable. I started to go to the groups and try to make friends, and I began enjoying it a bit more.
Unfortunately, during my one home visit, I got plastered and returned hungover. I thought I was ready to go home but I clearly wasn’t. After that, I took the program a lot more seriously. I started to do quite a bit better. It was interesting to me that I could go from hating life and just wanting to get high to wanting to be more successful. It was a big change. I pushed against that change a lot, but I decided I could either make myself miserable or I could try to get better. So, I tried.
The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre saved my life. It gave me a fresh start. I still struggle with a seizure disorder and neurological issues that resulted from my drug use, but I graduated a year early from high school, went to college at 17 to study medical esthetics, and now I’m about to graduate with a degree in Nursing. Eventually I want to become a Nurse Practitioner. I would not have been able to do any of that without the communication skills, the coping skills, and the patience I learned while I was at Dave Smith. I spent a lot of time trying to understand other people’s perspectives, and that helps a lot – especially as a nurse.
Shelby is a graduate of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.
There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!
112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001