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Tom, 33 year old male client

Sometimes the ghosts of my past visit me.

A few years ago, I needed help with my serious crack addiction. I contacted Umbrella and I was connected with a peer support worker. She invested a lot of time getting to know me and helped me work on my immediate needs. Whether it was getting me
connected with income assistance, individual counselling, going to court or just having a coffee to stay in touch, she was there every step of my recovery.

My addiction to crack cocaine is extremely severe. Sometimes my reactions are so horrible that I am convinced I am also allergic. I have had many, many hospitalizations due to serious cocaine psychosis and from the after affects of smoking and injecting cocaine. Some of my hospitalizations have been facilitated by the police and against my will. Those particular visits were so degrading and demeaning. As I lay strapped to hospital beds to prevent me from harming myself I wished I was dead. I am such a different person when I am using drugs. I hate who I am and what I do when I am high. I am very well known to the police because of the things I do to get high and stay high. I absolutely hate every part of being a drug addict.

When I am at the hospital I am treated very differently because I am an addict. In the community, people cross the street to avoid me. I feel like I am invisible and I often wish I could disappear.

My Umbrella worker sees things in me that I can’t see. She tells me often that I am a good person with a bad problem. No matter what part of my addiction I am in, she treats me with respect, kindness and dignity. No matter how bad I smell or how scared I am, she looks me in the eyes and gives me a hug.

I have had some successful recovery time and when I am not using drugs I am a positive member of society. Sometimes the ghosts of my past visit me and my first reaction is to use dope so they will disappear, but as I get more clean time and more counselling I am learning healthier ways to cope with those horrific demons.

Today I am 7 months clean and sober and an active member in 12 step programs. I have a Sponsor and am working hard on step work. I have a full time job and I see my counselor every 2 weeks. I continue to talk to my Umbrella worker several times a week; she is the foundation of my recovery. She continues to remind me that people rarely relapse from too much support, and that I need to continue reaching out, even when I am feeling strong. Each day I am a step closer to seeing the good person my worker always saw in me and one day maybe I will become that person.