My name is Alex, and thanks to the Dream Centre, my life has changed completely. I had a rough childhood. Growing up, I experienced a lot of trauma. My relationship with my father was very broken, and I was constantly bullied at school. I was one of those kids who couldn’t make friends and always felt like an outcast.
I always felt safer at my mom’s house, but one day we had to leave abruptly. We couldn’t go back home. At that point, our only option was to live in our car. I wasn’t able to brush my teeth or change my clothes. This made the bullying at school much worse, but there was nothing I could do about it. I see now that it was just a series of unfortunate events, but as a kid, all of that pain started to fill me with hate.
By the time I was 10 years old I had become suicidal. It was also around that time when I discovered alcohol. Drinking was the first thing I found that numbed the pain. I started drinking excessively, which then progressed to smoking marijuana. At 13-years-old, I discovered my drug of choice: cocaine. As soon as it hit my body I completely embraced it. It became my vice. My life.
When I was on drugs, I felt like I was on top of the world. I didn’t realize that I was on a fast track to hitting rock-bottom. My drug use caused problems at home, and eventually, my mom had to kick me out.
I was on my own, homeless, and living under a bridge. I still remember how cold it was sleeping on concrete in the winter. My friend and I would start fires to keep warm, but we had to make sure they didn’t get too big and draw attention. Living outside in extreme weather and doing drugs every day took their toll. I ended up 94 pounds of skin and bone. I still can’t believe it got to that point.
By the time I was just 18 years old, I had already suffered two massive heart attacks as a result of my drug use. Both of which could have ended my life. Those heart attacks should have been my wake-up call but somehow they weren’t.
For me, the turning point was suddenly losing three important people in my life in a span of three months. Each of them had been going somewhere with their lives, and in contrast, I was wasting my life away, doing nothing. I realized I needed to make something of myself before it was too late.
I reached out for help and was connected with the Dream Centre. On November 12, 2016, I was enrolled in their Recovery Program. This was the first big step forward I had ever taken in my life.
When I walked in, everyone was smiling and joking around and I thought, ‘Wow, this isn’t the right place.’ Well, turns out it was because in that short 49 days the Dream Centre managed to change my life completely. It was exactly the right place. During that seven-week program, I received support unlike anything I had experienced before. My life would never be the same.
I became both physically and emotionally healthy. I received medical and psychological support, spiritual care, and addictions counselling. Through my recovery, I started living an active lifestyle, eating healthy, going on hikes, and simply living life. I started to accept myself, and I began to realize the dreams I always had could become reality. To this day, my mind, body and soul have never felt better.
I am so thankful because the Calgary Dream Centre gave me hope and a second chance. I never thought I’d be going back to school to explore my future, but here I am. I never expected to live a life free of drugs or alcohol. I never expected to have real friendships.
Today, I am thankful to be a new me. I am thankful to be alive. The Dream Centre helped me rediscover myself, and it helped me make a solid foundation to build off of for the rest of my life.