by Xavier Kataquapit
(January 2020) – Maybe 2020 would be a good year to get sober. If you think you have a drug or alcohol problem or an addiction that is affecting your life and also the lives of loved ones, family and friends maybe getting sober would be a good idea. I fully realize that many people can have alcohol in their lives and that medical marijuana is proving to have some benefits in health care so I am directing these words to those who are negatively affected by alcohol and drugs.
There is no better time like the present to reach out to the many organizations and services that are there ready to help you to live a sober life. Almost every community in Canada has an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group. Many Indigenous organizations provide services assisting First Nation people to follow a path of sobriety through traditional and cultural teachings and healing. There are health care workers in most First Nations and their job is to help people get sober.
I have been sober since 1995 and lucky for me there was an AA group operating in Attawapiskat at that time and I became involved with them and managed to stop drinking and to learn about addictions. I also learned how important it was to have the support of others who were also on a path to recovery and sobriety. Lucky for me I started on the road to recovery at an early age so I did not end up with too many horror stories to deal with or terrible damage to my mind and health. If it would not have been for that small AA group of relatives and friends in Attawapiskat, I would probably never have gone down the path of sobriety.
It is with great pride that I can call myself a recovering alcoholic. I am not ashamed of having a health problem like an addiction in much the same way someone with cancer or other disease should not be stigmatized. When I let people know that I am an alcoholic and that alcohol and drugs are not allowed in my home then I am protecting myself.
Too often I hear from others that it is just too hard to have to deal with their addictions and it is such a tough thing to do. I always remind them that being an alcoholic or drug addict is much harder than admitting you have a problem and dealing with it. A hard life is one where you can’t be happy because you are addicted to alcohol or a drug that you must have every day or on a regular basis. A hard life is one where you hurt people in all kinds of ways because of your addictions. A hard life is one where you can’t keep a job or go on to further your education because you are an alcoholic or drug addict. A hard life is living on the streets and having nothing because of your alcoholism or drug addiction. Getting sober and staying sober does require a decision, some effort, much education, reaching out for help and hanging out with others that do not drink or do drugs but that is all really, really easy compared to continuing on in life as an alcoholic or drug addict.
My path is not always easy and there are lots of ups and downs and I am scared to death of losing my sobriety but I know that maintaining an alcohol and drug free life is much easier than doing nothing about it. Many people who start off with AA or NA or the help of traditional teachers and organizations make the mistake of going back into situations where family and friends are using alcohol and drugs and that almost always ends up in a sober person relapsing. There is no magic easy button to push to become sober but your choices in who you spend time with and your dedication to learning about addictions and how to cope with them is not all that hard to do. Staying on a sober path is a challenge but falling off it is a nightmare. I prefer to deal with the challenge and I hope you do too.