Nova Scotia

Recovering addict recounts how she cheated system

A recovering addict is telling her story about cheating a Nova Scotia methadone clinic and her struggle with addiction.

Warns clinics to be vigilant when testing for drugs

Stephanie Benham (left) just returned from the U.S. for drug addiction treatment. Her mother, Melanie (right), travelled with her to Michigan. (CBC)

A recovering addict is telling her story about cheating a Nova Scotia methadone clinic and her struggle with addiction.

Stephanie Benham and her mother returned Sunday from a Michigan detox centre, their first trip ever outside of Canada.  

"It's a new start on life. It's a new lease on life and it feels good to be sober," Benham said.  

They travelled to the U.S. at a cost of $12,000, paid for by her parents, to rid Benham of her addiction to opiates.  

"It wasn't cheap but it's no more or less than the cost of a funeral and I'd rather pay for a life than a funeral," said Benham's mother Melanie.  

Her life was a familiar downward spiral of bad choices, bad relationships and escalating use of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine, Benham said.  

For her, the crisis occurred one morning in March of last year when she was involved in a serious car accident on a stretch of road outside Shelburne. 

Benham was on her way to a methadone clinic and was carrying illegal Dilaudid at the time.  

She says she had been cheating the Mud Creek Medical Clinic for years in order to obtain methadone, while taking illegal drugs.

"Taking in false urine samples and beating the system that way... that's all you really had to do, make sure it was warm when you entered it into the bottle and as long as it's warm, they think it's yours," Benham said.  

No one from the Mud Creek clinic was available to comment Wednesday.  

The Benhams say they do not fault Mud Creek. They say it was a victim of a desperate addict.  

Their only suggestion is the clinic, and others, could be more vigilant with urine tests.  

"If there's any doubt," Benham said, "please recommend a witnessed urine sample, because it may save a life."

With files from Paul Withers