Why I chose the Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker Program

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My Name is Scott and I am 29 years old. I am taking the Community Mental Health and Addiction Worker (CMHAW) program. I was born in Kelowna, BC and have lived all over this great world of ours, but BC has always been where my heart is. I came to the lower mainland 4 years ago from Alberta where I was working in telecommunications for a number of years before that. It was an exciting and ever changing environment that paid handsomely, however, it gave me little to no satisfaction with my life. It was an empty experience which fed into my already empty and twisted soul – I had a secret I was hiding deep within. I was an addict.

I suppose at this point I should go back in time a bit. Growing up I had everything I had ever wanted. I lived in a nice home, in a nice neighbourhood. I went to a nice school and had great friends. I had a mom and a dad who provided literally every fleeting fancy and activity I ever dreamed up; karate, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, summer camps, rock climbing, theatre, dance, chorus – you name it, I had it. But even self-perceived perfections can have a dark underbelly.

My dad was an alcoholic. He wasn’t mean, he wasn’t loud, he wasn’t hateful. In fact I didn’t even come to realize his disease until much later in life. There he sat, at the end of every day, sitting in his lay-z-boy chair, drinking and barking commands in excitement at the television for which ever sport team he was watching until he passed out. It also wasn’t until much later that I realized the amount of sorrow he felt inside – over what I still don’t know to this day – and he drank those sorrows away daily.

By the age of 12 I began to experience my own sorrows. Mom and dad were fighting a lot lately, grandma had passed away – you know, child sorrows. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone because no one around me could talk to each other as it was. I was sent off to summer camp and I remember thinking this would be the break I needed, that everyone needed to sort themselves out. I came home refreshed and excited to share my experience. Instead, I was greeted with packed bags and a temporary home with my mom until the divorce was finalized. Then I remembered, I could drink to take the pain away – I had watched my dad do it countless nights for years – and when that first drink hit my lips, I was hooked.

Over the next 15 years, my addiction spread like a bad weed, suffocating the rest of the garden. I was what some people refer to as a “functioning addict” for a number of years, but I say there is nothing functioning about someone who HAS to have their fix before they can start their day. I say there is nothing functioning about spending your entire earnings on drugs before you spend it on food, rent, or clothes. After a while, my addiction began taking my job, then my home, then the final piece of my soul – my integrity. When I came into recovery, I was homeless, standing in food and shelter line-ups, fighting to stay alive. I was a criminal and the police were hot on my trail. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired – I needed a change.

Since finding myself again through recovery, I have found a job working in the Addiction Recovery Support field. I have loved this job every moment from the day I started and I attribute my success in life through living and working in recovery. My support network expands daily – a connection to people I hadn’t felt in a very long time actually exists today. I chose to take this course at Stenberg because I wanted three things to happen:

1) I wanted to be able to better understand myself. I have done a lot of work on myself over the years through one of the Anonymous programs, but I wanted to know the more scientific application to the things I had experienced.

2) I wanted to be able to better help my existing clientele. They are my driving force to be a better me and to show them that recovery is possible.

3) I dropped out of high school to pursue a full time career in addiction, and I wanted to prove to myself that I was smart, that I wasn’t a waste of skin and that I could get an education.

I chose Stenberg because of the experience that goes into creating the course. Created by executives at Portland Hotel Society and Lookout Society, a couple of the top employers in the field, I knew that I would be getting the most up to date and current curriculum to help prepare me for the work force. Since starting in October 2015, I have made great friends in my class. The administration and support staff in place actually want to see me succeed which drives me further down the right path. I feel that Stenberg was the right choice for me, and through this course, I’m changing me.

About the Author
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Scott

Scott is a current student in Stenberg’s Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker program.

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