Manitoba

Former meth user says jail, long-term treatment helped her fight addiction

She spent her 19th birthday sleeping on the floor of an abandoned barber shop in Winnipeg, addicted to methamphetamine. But now a Manitoba woman is sharing the story of her struggle to recover from that addiction in the hope of helping others.

Madison Koop started experimenting with marijuana at age 15 and eventually became addicted to meth

Madison Koop says she wants to share her story in order to inspire others. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

She spent her 19th birthday sleeping on the floor of an abandoned barber shop in Winnipeg, addicted to methamphetamine. 

But now a Manitoba woman is sharing the story of her struggle to recover from that addiction in the hope of helping others.

Madison Koop, who grew up in the southeastern Manitoba city of Steinbach, first started experimenting with marijuana at age 15. She eventually started using ecstasy and cocaine, and later became addicted to crystal meth.

"It was pretty sad, looking back at it now," said Koop, now 20 and in her 11th month of treatment at the Adult and Teen Challenge facility near Brandon, a faith-based addiction recovery program.

"I just wanted friends in school and I just felt like an outcast," she said. "I found that approval by hanging out with certain people, wearing certain clothes and then going to parties. I found approval in things like that." 

Koop said she turned to meth to deal with her depression and anxiety.

"All of us meth addicts, we all had the same thing in common and that was we were using drugs to numb the feeling," she said. "You don't want to feel that deep-down hurt."

Madison Koop talks about her recovery from meth addiction

4 years ago
Duration 1:39
Madison Koop spent her 19th birthday sleeping on the floor of an abandoned barber shop in Winnipeg, addicted to methamphetamine. But now — nearly a year after she entered treatment for her addiction— she is sharing her story in the hope of helping others.

Koop's addiction got so bad that on her 19th birthday, with no home and no job, she slept for 23 hours on the floor of an abandoned barber shop in Winnipeg.

"I was really depressed because I felt so alone," she said. "I had all the drugs that I could want. I had lots of money. I had at the time … what I needed." 

She would later be arrested for theft and forced to detox in jail for five months, after her parents refused to post bail.

Arrest was 'lucky'

"We were lucky that she got arrested," said her mom, Kim Koop. "That was our saving grace … she got somewhat clear-minded and wanted to go for help." 
Madison Koop, 20, has been at Adult and Teen Challenge near Brandon for 11 months. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Looking back, Madison Koop said at the time, she didn't see it as her mom trying to help her.

"I was scared. I felt like a prisoner in my own body," said Koop, recalling another experience when her parents took her to a cabin to try and help her detox on their own.

"That was the most horrifying experience of my life," she said. "I had no idea what was going on."

Her family is the latest to join the chorus calling for more help and long-term treatment facilities, like Adult and Teen Challenge, where the minimum stay is one year. 

"The treatment that's out there needs to change," said Kim. "It hasn't adapted to the surge in crystal meth use." 

"The courts too ... even if [people are] arrested for possession of drugs ... it's like [they're] released with a promise to appear. It doesn't solve the problem." 

'At peace'

Madison Koop recently shared her story in her hometown in the hope of inspiring others. She finishes treatment at Adult and Teen Challenge in April.

"It's a world of difference being in a treatment program for a year," Koop said. "It's not only a recovery program ... it teaches you how to get those root causes out of your life."

She plans to go back to school in the fall and says her goal now is to help those that have faced similar challenges.

"The way I see myself now, compared to the person I was then — it's absolutely mind blowing," she said.

"I'm just overall ... at peace with how I am now. And it's awesome." 

with files from Radio Noon

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