Saskatchewan

From crystal meth and crime to support group and nursing: Tiffany Newby shares her story of recovery

Overrun by crystal meth use, facing armed robbery charges and seeing her family relationships disintegrating, Tiffany Newby knew she’d hit rock bottom and had to make a change. She's now been clear of crystal meth for 14 years and helps run a local support group.

Newby will be Wednesday's guest on Sask. Facebook series featuring stories of recovery

Tiffany Newby has been clear of the influence of crystal meth for 14 years and free from alcohol for six. (Submitted by Tiffany Newby)

Overrun by crystal meth use, facing armed robbery charges and seeing her family relationships disintegrating, Tiffany Newby knew she'd hit rock bottom and had to make a change. 

"I knew I had no other choices. [It was] either jail, ... institutions or death and I snapped out of it and I realized I had to do what I had to do."

The Regina woman is sharing her recovery journey on a new Facebook video series called The Recovery Hour, co-hosted by Rand Teed and Rod Pedersen. The series features Saskatchewan guests talking about their perspectives on recovery, with Newby sharing her story on Wednesday's edition.  

For Newby, drugs and alcohol were a way to deal with seeing abuse and alcoholism as a young child. 

"I had no outlet to really express what I was going through, so as I got to my teen years I just started to self-medicate," she said, explaining that her drug use began with weed and alcohol. She progressed to using ecstasy, crack and then to crystal meth. 

"In the beginning, it was great," she said. "I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me feel powerful, like I could do anything. It took away all my problems like I wanted it to." 

But over time, she began lashing out at others close to her and getting involved in crime. 

The turning point came when she landed in court, facing a charge of armed robbery and staring down the prospect of a two-to-three-year jail sentence. Around that time, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Newby realized her downward spiral was adding to her mother's stress and pain. 

"Really, I quit for her. It was literally the hardest thing I had ever done." 

Tiffany Newby said the change from when she was using crystal meth, left, has been marked. Now, she says she hopes her journey to recovery will help inspire people to know change is possible. (Submitted by Tiffany Newby )

At that time, there were very few resources for people recovering from crystal meth, and Newby leaned heavily on the support of Teed, who is a drug and alcohol counsellor, to find her way through. 

Putting away drugs and alcohol means facing the problems in a person's life they've been running from, Teed said. 

"To let go of that means that you're going to have to feel a whole bunch of hurt and and going through that is tough," he said. "But Tiffany … made a decision to change and that's the biggest single factor in successful recovery, is, 'I'm not going to do this anymore.'"

Listen to Tiffany Newby's interview on her road to recovery with CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition:

A new Facebook video series is aimed at sharing Saskatchewan perspectives and stories of recovery, with Tiffany Newby sharing her own story of struggling with addictions, getting charged with armed robbery and finding her way out of that lifestyle into a happier and healthier present. 7:53

It's been 14 years since Newby used crystal meth and six since she gave up alcohol. 

But the last frontier has been to talk openly about her past drug use. For a long time, she said, she wanted to stay out of the spotlight, ashamed of her drug use and criminal activity and not wanting her past to affect her new path as a nursing student. 

Now she has become part of running the Regina-based Crystal Clear support group and hopes to work in the area of harm reduction once she's finished nursing school.  

She believes her story may help others realize they too can break the cycle of addictions.

"No matter how bad you think you've screwed up your life or that there is no coming back from it or anything, or how ashamed you are, there is a possibility to create a new life for yourself and be successful," she said.

"Change is possible."

With files from CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition