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A Family United

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After a year-long journey to recover from a destructive addiction, Lisa is healthy, working again, and reunited with her family.

Lisa still vividly recalls when the police pulled her over just before Christmas Eve in 2013. She felt like she had come to the end of a long road. The only problem was that the road wasn’t leading her to a very good place. She was unemployed, was addicted to crystal methamphetamine, had anger issues, and her husband had moved out with their three children and said he’d had enough. He wanted a divorce. As Lisa sat in the freezing car on the side of the road her Christmas presents in the back seat, she thought she couldn’t blame her husband, Steve. She had messed up; she hadn’t been the mom and wife she wanted to be for a long time.

In that moment, Lisa decided to start owning up to everything she was running from. “I suddenly became very honest and fessed up to everything,” she says now, more than two years later. “It goes a long way when you tell the truth. I got six tickets, including driving under the influence, but the police officers were kind. They delivered my Christmas gifts to my grandma’s house that night.”

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Lisa working with Lesa, the Addictions Worker, Drug Treatment Court Hamilton, Mission Services of Hamilton

 

Lisa’s next stop was prison, an experience that opened her eyes to what her life would be like if she continued using. “I saw that I would lose my kids,” she explains, “and my addiction would never end. It’s easy to get any drug you want in prison.”

“I saw that I would lose my kids,” she explains, “and my addiction would never end. It’s easy to get any drug you want in prison.”

Around that time, her lawyer learned about a new program for people who had multiple offenses, and whose crimes were directly related to an underlying addiction. The program was called Drug Treatment Court Hamilton, and he thought Lisa was a perfect candidate. He asked her if she wanted to give it a try.

“I was nervous, and at that point my husband didn’t have a lot of hope in me,” Lisa explains. “He said I was probably better off just doing my time.”

Regardless, Lisa found the courage to apply. As a condition of the program she had to plead guilty to her criminal charges, and commit to a demanding addiction recovery program at Mission Services of Hamilton. Further, her progress would be carefully monitored. She had to agree to regular drug tests, and stand in front of a judge once a week to discuss her progress.

“Going to see Justice Marjoh Agro was nerve-wracking at first,” Lisa says. “You really didn’t want to go if you were in trouble. But she is only hard on us so we can succeed.”

During the program, Lisa learned a lot about herself and why she had made so many poor decisions. “I started experimenting with drugs very early,” she says, “and I had been abused sexually as a kid. I was angry, and later I let it out on my husband, even physically sometimes.”

Initially she didn’t think she needed anger management therapy or many of the other supports offered through Mission Services. But now she’s glad she went through with them. “Now I can cope with everyday events, and I can stand back and look at the big picture.”

“I can cope with everyday events now, and I can stand back and look at the big picture.”

This summer Lisa stood in front of Justice Agro for the last time. But instead of reprimanding Lisa for a false step—of which there were some along the way—Justice Agro was congratulating Lisa on graduating Drug Treatment Court Hamilton with honours. She had been completely drug free for six months, found a job, and reunited with her husband and children. Her family, boss, and coworkers came to see her graduation and celebrate with her.

“This is a true success,” says Lesa Irish, Lisa’s addiction worker at Mission Services. “Lesa committed to every challenge the court set before her, and she’s come out stronger for it.”

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Lisa on site at her job with a local renovation and demolition company.

“Nowadays,” Lisa says, “I’m not pushing my kids away to go use. I have time to spend with them, and we’re looking forward to doing just regular things like planning trips as a family.”

“… we’re looking forward to doing just regular things like planning trips as a family.”

She continues: “I wouldn’t be there today without all of the people who donate to Mission Services so they can continue program like these. I hope and wish more people can achieve what I have. To them I would say, Take one day at a time. If you really want it, you’ll get there.”

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Lisa celebrating with Lesa after the final Drug Treatment Court session (August 2016)