Thomas Bradley on 20 years of substance use

Now a community worker student at George Brown College, Bradley wants to help others survive addiction

Hello, my name is Thomas and I am a recovering addict and alcoholic.

For 20 years I’ve struggled daily with addiction and alcohol issues and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Why not? Because today I have my life back.

I’ve overdosed seven different times over the years and had it not been for detox, treatment facilities, and 12-step meetings I probably wouldn’t be alive today. Every time I left a rehab or a detox I always thought I had my addiction beat. Here’s the truth: you can’t beat addiction. It’s a one day at a time battle for the rest of your life.

I didn’t grow up wanting to be an addict or an alcoholic but my choices created a lifestyle that was hard to escape. My addiction told me that I’d never be able to amount to anything and that one more drink or toke would solve my problems. When I was an addict, I didn’t take any days off. I was a 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, addict. Using was my job.

Today when I find myself struggling or thinking about using, I pick up the phone and call someone or go to a meeting. I play the tape through again and I remember all of those consequences I put myself through because of using. I remind myself that being homeless sucked and how hard it was to survive each day when I was using. I remind myself of all those degrading things I did just to get that next fix.

I remind myself that I’m worth it and I’m deserving of a life without the use of drugs and alcohol. I don’t want my mother having to bury her first-born son. When I die, I want to be remembered as being someone, not as a dope fiend and a drunk. I want to create my own family and hear the word, “dad” come from my child.

I never thought I would be able to be like other people, but today I am a full-time community worker student on the dean’s List at George Brown College. If I can get clean and sober and go to school after 20 years of mistakes then anyone can.  I went from being a hopeless dope fiend to a dopeless hope fiend. And now I’m on the road to becoming an addictions counsellor.

Some folks are simply afraid to admit that they have a problem or to reach out for help. There is help out there and someone that will listen if you can muster up enough courage to reach out. If I didn’t reach out many times over the years there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be alive to write this.

Addiction or alcohol issues are not the end of your life, trust me. There’s a way out of the misery. The number for a detox bed in the city of Toronto is 1-866-366-9513. This number has saved my life and many others over the years.

Reach out, don’t become a statistic: nobody likes a funeral.

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Thomas Bradley on 20 years of substance use