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How Your Gifts Bring Healing from PTSD and Addiction

Thanks to your gifts, Andrew is finding a place to heal his addiction after struggling alone with the affects of post-traumatic stress disorder while serving with Canada’s forces in the Middle East.

TOLD IN THE FIRST PERSON:

“I come from a long line of military men, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do at first. I had a great job as a cook, but the company was privatized and they offered to rehire me at minimum wage. I told them, No thank you, and joined the army. Having a trade helped me move up the lines quickly.

You name a place where Canadian troops have been in the last 20 years, I’ve been there. I was at Beirut and spent lots of time in the Middle East. I had a good career. But I also had PTSD and was self-medicating the whole time with alcohol.

After time, you become addicted to the adrenaline and danger. There is nothing like it—nothing to compare with being in a firefight. To cope with the stress I used alcohol more and more and then drugs.

Eventually I was shot in the ankle and hit by a L.U.D.E.. I came home and spent 6 months in a wheelchair, and that’s when things really fell off. I was heavily using drugs and was diagnosed with tumors in my lungs. I thought, Well, this is it, so I burned through the rest of my money. But the radiation was successful and I suddenly had nowhere to go and needed help. That’s when I came to the Mission.

Since being here I’ve learned how to think logically rather than emotionally. I’ve also learned some humility.

I remember the manager, Jeff, told me over the phone that he was glad that I was reaching out. I hadn’t been homeless before so I wasn’t used to staying in a shelter. I wanted to whip all of the men in my dorm into shape! Thankfully, the staff helped to straighten me out.

Since being here I’ve learned how to think logically rather than emotionally. I’ve also learned some humility. I used to look down on civilians and developed, I guess you’d call it, an egocentric and antagonistic personality. That’s common in the army, but it’s no justification.

I enjoy getting to know the other guys here. There is a sense of community almost like you find in the army. Actually, I met a guy from the same military unit as me who was staying in the shelter and helping out in the kitchen. You stay friends with former veterans forever.

Now, I’m waiting to hear back from Veterans’ Affairs. I haven’t relapsed in a long time but you have to always be vigilant. Any excuse for an addict will work. I just take one day at a time and remember everything I’ve learned from the staff and people here.”

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