British Columbia

Son of B.C. finance minister shares story of recovery from addiction

After years of alcoholism and drug use, Evan James reached out for help. Now, on B.C.'s annual recovery day, he's asking for kindness, compassion and empathy towards other addicts.

'Kindness, compassion and empathy towards people battling addiction goes a long way,' says Evan James

Evan James, son of B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, says he battled addiction for years before getting help. He now helps others get sober. (CHEK News)

The son of B.C. Finance Minister Carole James is speaking openly about his struggles with addiction, saying he hopes to help others.

It's how Evan James, who became an alcoholic and addict 10 years ago, marked Recovery Day B.C. on Saturday, an annual event held to celebrate the road to recovery from addiction.

"Kindness, compassion and empathy towards people battling addiction goes a heck of a long way," James said in an interview in Victoria, with his son sitting by his side.

Recovery Day B.C. aims to increase awareness about addiction and reduce the shame, disgrace and humiliation addicts often face.

Evan James hasn't had a drink for seven years but a decade ago he says was drinking all day, every day.

"It was bad, really bad," he said.

'It was a total obsession'

James says he began experimenting with alcohol and pot as a teenager. As an adult, his partying progressed to the point where he lost his job and he wound up on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"It was a total obsession," he said of his addiction. "I describe it as tunnel vision and everything in my life was off to the side and my entire focus was on drinking."

His health deteriorated, mentally and physically. He said he even tried to deliberately overdose multiple times.

"I was hopeless at that point and saw no way out."

Carole James poses for a picture with family members in May, 2017 as she campaigned in Victoria B.C. (Carole James/Twitter)

But his family and friends rallied around James and he reached out for help.

His wife, Bronwyn Farley, said it wasn't easy.

"You get caught in the cycle of trying to survive each day with them and then feeling like you're enabling them," Farley said.

Be patient, forgive

These days, James said he no longer wakes up in the morning and thinks about his first drink.

"I can walk by a liquor store without batting an eye. This is all stuff I never would have thought possible," he said. He urged other addicts to be patient and forgive themselves.

Numbers released in August showed that overdose deaths in B.C. were up 88 per cent in June compared to the same month in 2016.

with files from CHEK News and April Lawrence.