The Pride Report

My Story: More than an Addict

Guest blog by Morgan Whitehead. Photos provided courtesy of the author.

My addictions started when I was 12–that’s when I started drinking and doing drugs.

I still remember the first drink, and the first joint. Growing up on the reservation it was normal to all of this because it was everywhere. It was at home, school and all of my friends did it.

I guess you could say I did it more than others because I was bullied, laughed at and sexually abused for years. No one believed me, or just didn’t want to. From my point of view it’s normal for these issues to be ignored.

Being gay growing up on a small-minded reserve definitely fucked me up mentally. I held a lot of emotions in for many years which is why for me, my addictions got so bad.

But as I got older I came to terms with myself. Mainly when I moved to Edmonton and I met other gay people. They taught me its okay to be gay. I learned about the LGBTQ community and got more involved in it. But that’s also when my addictions went from just smoking weed to taking harder drugs.

This went on again for years, drugs got worse and I drank more.

When I decided to get sober in December 2015 my addictions got so bad I was waking up in strangers’ homes, broke, broken and lost. I got myself into detox on December 31,2015 (not because of new year new me bullshit) but because on that day some people didn’t show up and I got in a lot sooner. But I was very open with my employer and I got the time off.

I was there for 14 days. I was just as scared getting there, as I was to leave. I learned lots about myself, addictions and how to live with them. That’s one thing I learned: I will always be a drug addict. I will always be an alcoholic. But it’s my choice to live above it. I will live above it.

I’m just glad I’ve finally found a way I can truly express myself. I’m not very traditional, but I’m able to connect to my culture through art.

I’m much more than just an addict. I’m an artist. I’m a brother. I’m a hard worker. If I were to be remembered for anything it would be this: I never want anyone to look at me, make a stereotype judgement based on the colour of my skin, or by who I choose to love and have them be right.

I will never go back to where I was only 1 year ago. After going through everything I did, I’ve decided to go to school to start a career as an addictions councillor but I’d like to focus on LGBTQ aboriginal youth battling addictions. Until then I will continue to be open about my addictions in hopes of inspiring others to get help, or even help themselves before it’s to late.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 1 year sober, or 1 day. Be proud of any accomplishment. Every day is a struggle. Every day is going to be hard. But in the end, it’s life changing.

For information and resources around substance abuse visit: www.moosejawpride.ca/resources

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