My journey began in 2014 when I made the decision to change my life.
Despite the fact that my addiction to alcohol and drugs gave me Hepatitis C and HIV, I hadn't let that stop me from seeking out treatment for my medical issues.
But I hadn't been able to see any real way out, no reason to find a better way to live. Then I got a call from my daughter. "Mom, I would like you at my grad," she said.
Strength to seek help
This was the light that I needed to give me the strength and the desire to seek help. I was very familiar with the different recovery options out there, as it was always a revolving door for me before.
This time was different. I was determined and willing to go to any length to get the help I needed.
As time passed and with the help and support from my family and friends, I started my path of healing. I soon began to realize that it was me and not my addiction that kept me chained up. My addiction was only an escape to what I was really running from, my fears.
Something greater keeping me safe
My own Mom's love for her faith stuck with me no matter where I was or what I was doing; I knew that there was something greater than life itself that kept me safe.
I was fortunate to grasp onto the teachings and guidance of my peers and medical doctors who helped me get connected to the support groups I needed.
Through all of this, I started to feel better and more confident in who I am: a woman with HIV. I started to volunteer at an organization for positive people. With my life experience, I get to share my story of recovery with others, so they don't have to feel that they are alone.
Hope in their eyes
My work as a peer navigator at the RAAC, or 'Rapid Access Addiction Clinic' at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, gives me a chance to be that shining light for someone who might be struggling with their own addiction.
So many people are being lost, but since I've been at the RAAC, many have come in for help to find a better life. To see the hope in their eyes and have the comfort of knowing that it is possible to get stable and off whatever substance they are using is gratifying.
Thankfully, the RAAC is now available to assist people who may not be as fortunate as I was, with the supports I had, to find the solution.
Today, I am four years clean and sober. I have a full-time job as a peer navigator and have my children back in my life. I have stability.
The author is a peer navigator at St. Paul's Hospital's Rapid Access Addiction Clinic.