MUSKOKA – Addiction in all its forms can be difficult to overcome, but organizations such as Addiction Outreach Muskoka Parry Sound offer services for those looking for help. Three recovering addicts spoke at the organization’s annual recovery breakfast, urging others to seek support. This is one of their stories.
On the long road to recovery.
CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN: Lynn McAllister Trott struggled with a troubled childhood, alcoholism and an abusive relationship before turning her life around with the help of addiction outreach services. She did it not only for herself, but for her family as well.
Addiction is a complex issue.
Addiction Outreach Muskoka Parry Sound hosted its fifth annual recovery breakfast on Sept. 20 at Grandview’s Mark O’Meara clubhouse to promote the organization’s programs and services to the community while introducing some of the individuals who have battled back from addiction with its help.
Event MC David Deschambault, an addiction councillor from the Parry Sound office, explained the morning’s theme focused on substance abuse as a health issue that needed to escape stigma.
He defined addiction as simply someone who is powerless over a substance that is making their life unmanageable. But the definition has since evolved into something more complex.
Deschambault read a new definition from a book called The Globalization of Addiction that suggested global society is suffering from the increasing pressures of individualism and competition. These pressures are tearing people away from family, culture and traditions that used to form the normal fabric of life.
“When we are separated from our culture, families and communities, we become susceptible to many things and as a result of this separation we turn to other things like alcohol and drugs,” said Deschambault. “Addiction over the years has evolved from something simple like alcoholism and being powerless into something more profound.”
Addiction and substance abuse, he said, is often linked to mental health or correctional issues.
He explained that no one wanted to be an addict and those who enter into recovery programs are searching for something better.
Lynn McAllister Trott is one of those people. Her tale soon had the room in tears – not only because of her horrific experiences, but also because of her strength and dedication to her family.
“Being raised by substance abusers, I remember feeling trapped in a world that didn’t make a lot of sense. I remember feeling lost, helpless and I wished someone would come and save us,” said McAllister Trott. “When I realized no one was going to show up, I decided to step up and save other people.”
Her parents were both alcoholics and she was afraid of them. She remembered thinking her dad didn’t like her even though she desperately wanted him to. And she remembered having nightmares about her mother, who suffered from depression and had attempted suicide.
“Growing up, I learned quickly that you can’t trust anybody,” she said. “Life was like a mine field and every night after you went to bed they reorganized all the mines so they were never in the same place when you woke up.”
McAllister Trott started drinking in her teens to drown her feelings and at age 17 she hitchhiked to Alberta. When she came back, her mom kicked her out of the house.
“She was drinking and I was drinking, so it wasn’t going to go well,” she said.
By age 20, she was married to an older man who became physically, verbally and emotionally abusive. She was isolated and nearly lost her will to live.
“I believed he held the key to my happiness. I thought I could save him,” she said. “I was wrong.”
She had three children with him over five years and he started to abuse them, too.
“He threatened me upside down and sideways and said if I ever left he was going to take them away, that I would be committed,” she said. “I believed that could happen.”
But with the help of a women’s shelter and the police she took a chance and left.
“That was a huge turning point, one of the best decisions I ever made,” said McAllister Trott.
Leaving was just the first step, though. He started stalking her, coming to her door with a baseball bat and threatening her. She slept with a knife under her pillow.
Soon she left her community and moved to Muskoka.
She got counselling, read self-help books and became a Brownie leader. Eventually, she met another man.
“He was romantic, lonely and determined, and I thought I could save him,” she said. “I thought that would make me happy and I was wrong.”
They spent three years together and had a daughter.
“It was at this time I discovered addiction outreach. He had quit smoking, but I kept pushing. I wanted him to stop drinking. He responded by being unfaithful,” she said. “I felt like I pushed him into it with my insecurity and my attempt to control him. I might have.”
She already had trust issues and a zero tolerance for betrayal, so she ended the relationship.
After more counselling she met a third man. He was a heavy drinker.
“A thought occurred to me. Maybe I could save him,” she said.
That was when she reached out to Addiction Outreach Muskoka Parry Sound. She and her partner’s mom went to addiction outreach for him and got his drinking under control. They had two children together and built a house. But around this time, the older girls were teenagers and started drinking. One daughter was in an abusive relationship.
And McAllister Trott’s partner thought he could start drinking responsibly again.
“I lost my grip,” she said.
Feeling she had no control over her family, she decided to get some control over herself. She sought help for herself from addiction outreach. She got support and help to get herself back on track.
And her daughters have been able to watch her growth and are now growing themselves. One has gone into rehab and been sober for more than a year.
“As I work on myself, I see a ripple effect,” she said. “I only wish everyone could find a foothold and support like we have and make the climb.”
McAllister Trott said statistics show Muskoka has some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse in the province. She encourages others to seek support from addiction outreach programs and support groups.
“I remember thinking I could do it all on my own and not trusting anyone,” she said. “And I still struggle with shame and guilt.”
People struggling with addiction often share the same lack of trust paired with pride, denial and other concerns that can get in the way of healing.
But McAllister Trott said she is glad to have made the decision to seek help. And she does not regret any of her experiences.
“It’s been a wild ride – a long but twisty, crazy road and I sometimes went off-road – but I don’t regret any of it. I’ve learned from all of it, good and bad,” she said. “I pulled my deepest strength from some of my darkest moments.”