I Thought I Would Die a Junkie

by John McAlister
Categories: Feature
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salvationarmy_ithoughtiwoulddieAt age 13 Scott Cameron was shy, insecure and desperate to be accepted by his friends. “In an attempt to fit in, I smoked my first joint of marijuana, with a buddy, under the carport of our middle-class family home,” says Scott. “A year later I was addicted to hard drugs. Then, at 16, I was selling them.”

Scott was raised in Port McNicoll, a quiet village approximately 150 kilometres north of Toronto. “Life was good,” says Scott. “My dad was a factory worker and my mom stayed at home. My younger brother and I wanted for nothing. We were raised with good moral values and family structure.”

From an early age school was difficult for Scott. He always struggled to get by. When it came to high school, he was uneasy about going. “I wasn’t smart and always wondered what others thought of me,” says Scott. “Within weeks after enrolment, mental stress and anxiety got the best of me. I used heroin and morphine to help me escape from reality for a while. I forgot about my problems and didn’t care how people viewed me. But this escape only lasted until the drug wore off.”

Scott’s drug use escalated. He was obsessed with getting high. He injected anything in his veins he could. He abused prescription pain medication. He sold illegal drugs. Then, one day, he hit rock bottom. “I wanted to take my life,” says Scott. “I was going to die a junkie.”

Rock Bottom
After an assault charge, while on a drinking binge in Port McNicoll, Scott’s parents sent him to live with and work for a cousin who owned a drywall company in Oshawa, Ont. Before long Scott moved into a small apartment 15 kilometres away. That’s when things got bad.
“I went to work high, then came home and got high,” says Scott. “I have an addictive personality and didn’t have the rational self-control that allows most people to remain free of addiction. I was depressed, anxious and paranoid. I couldn’t sleep, was vomiting daily and suffered from severe gastric pain. My bones ached and even the hair on my arms hurt. I used drugs to reduce feelings of depression, but they actually lead to greater anxiety, despair and thoughts of suicide.”
One night, Scott decided to take his life. “I was mentally, spiritually and physically bankrupt,” says Scott. “I intended to ingest great quantities of pills. But, the fear of burning in hell and the guilt of once again hurting my parents halted my decision.” Scott called his father who came immediately to his aid.

Scott’s parents stood by him for 20 years while he battled with addiction. They learned all they could about drug dependency in an attempt to help their son. Guilt, along with fear and anxiety crippled them as the dealt with this heart-wrenching situation.

The Salvation Army Hope Acres
Scott made attempts to get clean through short-term treatment programs, but his obsession with drugs caused repeated relapses. In 2006 Scott was referred to The Salvation Army Hope Acres Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre in Glencairn, Ontario.

Hope Acres is a place of new beginnings for chemically dependent men who have lost their self-direction, whether socially, mentally or spiritually. The six-month residential treatment program gives hope to thousands of men each year in the midst of their pain, guilt and despair.

Scott graduated from the program but, within months, he abused alcohol and drugs again. “I thought I could function without support,” says Scott. “My friends were addicts and I quickly began to make unhealthy choices.”

After more than a year, Scott returned to Hope Acres. He graduated on January 22, 2008, recognizing that the real challenge of recovery was in front of him.

Now age 34 Scott shares his story of hope with other addicts. This keeps him on track along with his vital support network that consists of mentors, group meetings, a higher power and his family.

Says Scott: “I was a hopeless addict. Now, I’m working hard on my sobriety and am addicted to hope.”