My name is Heidi Smith, I am a 43 year old single mother to 9 year old boy, business woman, friend to many, family member and most importantly - I am an addict.
Addiction is not a choice. Addiction is a disease. When I went to the doctor 9 years ago to discuss my chronic pain issues from past accidents that were causing me grief; I went to the person I trusted most; that being my own doctor to help me get back on track. There was a new push going on this year behind the scenes from big pharma for Oxycodone distribution; I was sold on it, willing to try anything suggested to help me with my pain and it instantly worked for me. I was suddenly able to function and get out the door and carry my baby around on my hip at the park like other moms. I was also able to eventually get back to work while taking it to my well established career at the time. What I wasn't told back then was that Oxy is addictive, that eventually more Oxy was needed to work properly and most importantly I wasn't told that this little pill would awaken my demon and my disease of addiction that I have had for 25 years of my life at different extremes. Most of society has a visual of addicts running around the downtown eastside here in Vancouver thinking that's where it starts. What they don't know is people like myself who raise children, establish careers, have an education, live on the north shore (like myself at the time) with friends and families are also affected and in extreme active addiction behind our own closed doors of our homes.
I had it all: A home, a car, trips, career, child, social life...the list goes on. I then lost it all... and then some. Eventually my addiction to Oxy (and now other pills on top of) fired me into visiting every clinic across North and West Vancouver. I had a system I had worked out. Some days I was at more than one clinic stockpiling my every growing need for the pills to even get me out of bed, to walk, talk and live. I had mastered new ways to take my pills to get out of their time release option so I got the instant gratification. None of which involved swallowing with a glass of water ‘as needed’. Addiction also fired every other issue I had. My anxiety skyrocketed, My defects ran wild, my disordered eating reactivated. I was suffering bad. People around me were suffering more. But most importantly my son who was now 3 years old started to be neglected and suffered the most. I was nodded off while driving with him in car. I was taking so much that I couldn't wake up or function “normally”, I was carelessly leaving the paraphernalia lying around, I was involved with unsafe people, the list goes on… and on...and on. I got to the point where I was now buying them off of others and every cent I had earned from my now lost job was gone. I turned to stealing and manipulating others for money. I found ways of means to get out of the pain beyond opiate drug use. I was now addicted to other street drugs to help me get out of obsession around Oxys. It got so bad that I temporarily lost full time alone access to the most important person in the World to me; that being my own son. Even then I could not stop right away. I could not stop without a proper plan to help me that would involve detox, treatment and long term recovery. I didn't at the time have access or knowledge to such resources and was so ashamed to even say the words “please help me, I need help”
I think where my initial confusion (and definite manipulation) lies around this was that OxyContin was prescribed to me. It wasn't illegal. But somewhere along the way I lost myself as a functioning human being to the point of near death and mass destruction.
There is a great, beautiful part of my story. In 2011 I hit bottom. Which was exactly where I needed to be to have a solid foundation to build a new life on. I learned there is good in what we think is bad. I ended up in detox and then successfully into a treatment facility that helped me learn about myself and my disease. I got my son back in my life quickly by applying a solid program of recovery in my life that I still utilize 24/7 in my life today and that I will have to for the rest of my life. I enjoy it too! With my strong work ethic and being a single mother I found a way to apply my skills, recovery and my time home to accommodate my sons schedule into a business that I started for others to wear their message on them to help others; that being Addictive Designs. On April 22, 2016 I celebrated 5 years clean and sober. I am a true walking miracle brought back from the grips of my disease of addiction and the most amazing mom to my beautiful boy, finally a friend to my sons father, an active family member and friend. I am passionate towards my business Addictive Designs that I stared to help contribute awareness around recovery, mental health, eating disorders, spiritual growth and supporting others in their recovery from illnesses into wellness. We are not alone anymore. We chose to wear a message to support others who may relate.
It is my mission to bring awareness to society that addiction does not discriminate. Many choose to remain anonymous, and I support them 100% - many chose to remain anonymous due to the stigma around what society thinks an addict looks like and they feel that guilt and shame to the core or fear of loosing things that matter most. Others choose to remain anonymous to follow their take and perception on fellowship traditions - I salute and support you all 100%. But it's my personal belief that unless some of us don't come forward to speak our truths none of this hidden and non hidden horror story of the drug epidemic will be repaired or funded by our gov’t to contribute funding to change. Addiction is an epidemic that affects everyone in one way or another in every family, friendship, business and our own safety across Canada and the World. People are living in secrecy and fear in their addictions; selling their souls, stealing from family, businesses they work for, themselves and others and sadly many are dying daily without a chance for change. It's time to make it clear that some of us choose to stand front and center to speak up about our disease; and that we can - and we will - be repaired with solid work, a solid support group and complete honesty on where we are each and every given day.
I am so grateful today to be able to speak my truths and share with others where I am at. The choice is yours to be the change with myself and others who come to embrace their addiction and more importantly their long term recovery.
If we don't step forward we will always remain in the same place.