Recovering drug user speaks up for those struggling with addictions

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Tom Allen, 29, says the journey to recovering from drug addictions is an uphill battle.

Since being two weeks sober and hopeful for his future, and wanting to speak up for others struggling with addictions, he says that recovery is possible.

“There’s just so much going on. It’s so, so easy to get around here. And seems like everybody’s doing it,” he said. “Other people that are struggling don’t really have a voice and don’t really know what to do. And I believe that everybody should have the opportunity to have a better life. Everybody deserves that, even if they don’t think they do.”

Allen has struggled with addictions for several years. While the circumstances leading to addictions are different for everyone, Allen’s journey began unintentionally when he was trying to keep someone away from it.

Afraid the person would lose their life from overdose when using drugs behind closed doors, Allen thought the only way he would be in a position to help was if he exposed himself too.

Later, Allen’s uncle, an OPP officer, came to his door one day and insisted that he call the detox centre, spurring his road to recovery.

Since receiving detox support at several organizations across Fort Frances, Allen has found he motivation to get his life back, and continues to see progress every day.

“I’m just focusing on myself now. And it’s been an uphill battle, but it’s getting clearer day by day,” he said. “[My family] is happy to see that I’m here and already making better choices now. So this time around, this is my year.”

More detox treatment centres, transitional housing and safe bed programs are crucial resources for those with addictions, he says, adding that he has also benefited from the local Safe Beds program. “People need somewhere safe to go.”

Contrary to the popular saying “live it day by day,” Allen says he likes to live it minute by minute, and shares the same word of advice to others battling addictions.

“One minute, you’re white-knuckling it and just really stressing, but fight through that, the minute passes, and you’re just going on with your day. Whatever tomorrow brings, tomorrow brings,” he said. “You’re not alone. It’s gonna seem hard, but you can do it. You know, I came into here thinking, ‘god, what would it just feel like to be normal. And two weeks sober now—I got that, I feel normal.”