Youth Addictions Services client Nick was a guest speaker at the groundbreaking ceremonyin April 2010, for the next phase of CAMH's redevelopment project which includes an Intergenerational Wellness Centre with in-patient rooms for youth and geriatric clients.
Here is his speech, in his own words.
I knew that I had reached a crisis in my addiction when I sat with my appalled parents in the principal's office while he recited a surprisingly accurate litany of my drug abuse and related behaviour. If I were to continue at the school, I must submit to daily drug testing and any positive results would lead to expulsion, this was impossible for me. When I refused, he recommended that my parents let me follow my self-destructive path to the bitter end and, if I survived, I might change.
Their response was to remove me from school and reorganize their time so they would always be available during my recovery.
I enrolled at CAMH and from the very beginning the time I spent there was the best part of my day. As an addict you are always experiencing psychological and emotional dissolution: coming apart at the seams. At CAMH I felt accepted and safe, I welcomed the structure and support which held me together, and contained me. Activities like art and music therapy restored a sense of innocence and possibility which had been previously lost.
The hours outside programming even with my family's support, were very difficult; I craved often and withdrawal was overwhelming. I felt out of control and that I couldn’t trust myself to make even the most basic decisions. This is why I believe it is so important for the Youth Addictions Service here at CAMH to have a place with beds and professional care workers where clients can detoxify and work through it in a safe, supportive environment which is comforting and controlled. Often times I have seen people who are vulnerable to relapse because of the isolation an addiction can bring and recovery sometimes necessitates. I think CAMH and especially the new building can provide a sense of community and belonging for these people.