“…with staff at Dave Smith, there was no shame in the relapse. It was always a safe place to go and get the help I needed.”
By the time I was 17 years old, drug use was affecting every part of my life – school, family, everything. I’d sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to get high. I got expelled from school. I got into fights. The only reason I’d get up in the morning was if I had a chance to get high. If not, I’d stay in bed.
Eventually, my Mom gave me an ultimatum: get help or get out. She had done some research and found information on a day program at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. This was before the Centre opened its live-in program.
At the first meeting with my counsellor, Laura Hewitt, I told her I didn’t need help and that I was really only doing it to avoid being kicked out of the house. She saw right through me and knew I needed help. Laura was always there for me. She was assertive, which was what I needed. I’d gotten used to getting my way because of my size and my aggressive nature. She wasn’t intimidated and would just wait me out.
Dave Smith was the place that never gave up on me. I eventually did get kicked out of my house. I got kicked out of residential treatment at Alwood (which eventually merged with the Dave Smith Centre). For a while, I was homeless. I got sober and then relapsed a bunch of times.
But with staff at Dave Smith, there was no shame in the relapse. It was always a safe place to go and get the help I needed. Laura was always my first call back then. She was my voice when I couldn’t be. Without the Dave Smith Centre, I don’t think I’d be here. I’d be dead. Honestly, I’d be dead. They gave me the motivation and the empowerment to change.
My life is on a completely different path now. I got my high school equivalency in 2012 and then went to Algonquin College. I had always been a terrible student, but I graduated from the Child and Youth Care Program with Honours.
I work three jobs, including as an educational assistant with a local school board. I work with students ranging from kindergarten all the way up to grade twelve. These students have Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, behavioural issues, history of abuse in the home and other challenges. My focus is to make sure that they are okay in the mind so that they can be okay on the outside too.
I’m enrolled at Carleton University working on a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I’ve never been happier in my life. With a degree, I hope to get hired as a youth addictions counsellor to be a voice for the voiceless.
Wyatt has been sober for 13 years. He’s married with two children and a third on the way.
There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!
112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001