‘Everyone Deserves a Chance’: Vancouver Mother Shares Two-Decade Battle Over Addiction and Recovery | The Canadian News

From the front of her yoga class in Vancouver, Victoria Heard projects strength, focus and confidence as she leads a group through an afternoon workout.

Heard was not always so ingrained. Until two years ago, she was on the losing end of a nearly two-decade battle with addiction that saw her go in and out of detox and, at times, dangerously close to death.

“When I started my yoga training I was very scared. I never finished high school; I never completed anything. But I knew this was what I wanted to do, ”said the 32-year-old, who along with her regular classes now also teaches in recovery homes.

“It really helped me find myself and focus.”

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Now two years sober, Heard shares her story in hopes that she can inspire others and break some of the persistent myths and stigma surrounding addiction.

His story began when he was 13 years old and living in a comfortable suburban home in Metro Vancouver. There was no trauma or abuse, he said, but rather a desire to experiment that started with methamphetamine and grew to include a variety of illegal drugs, which ended with opioids.

“I chose to leave a loving home, drop out of school, and live on the streets of downtown Vancouver so I could do drugs all day, every day,” he said.

“Not understanding the consequences, not understanding the damage he was doing to me.”

She spent four years on the streets of Vancouver begging and living in single room occupancy hotels before her parents put up $ 30,000 to put her into a recovery program.

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Not long after leaving, he faced the first of several relapses.

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Over the next decade, Heard said he went into detox multiple times, each time struggling to hold on. Eight months after giving birth to her daughter, she relapsed and made the terrible decision to put her son in the custody of her parents.

“Every time it gets worse, and things escalate, and you do things that you said you would never do, and you’re back in confusion and misery,” he said.

“I did not understand the seriousness of the disease of addiction… There needs to be constant work in my life every day to improve how I feel, not to listen to what my head tells me. I just didn’t get it. “

The toxic drug crisis in British Columbia has claimed nearly 8,000 lives since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016, some of them friends of Heard.

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She told Global News she came close to becoming a statistic herself: a near-fatal overdose in her truck one night.

“I stopped on the side of the road, these two cyclists saw me overdose, they took me out, they gave me CPR, they called an ambulance, they saved my life,” he said.

“But the madness of addiction, after I was released from the hospital, I went back to my truck, found the drugs that I had thrown on the ground, went home and got high.”

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The turning point came in September 2019, when Heard finally had enough.

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“I was so tired of being miserable and hating myself and hurting my family and not being there for my daughter and I was exhausted… The people you surround yourself with and the places you have to go to get your drugs, I was so tired of it and couldn’t do it anymore, ”she said.

“There were a couple of times when I went into detox and went for treatment. This last time, I cleaned myself up, I detoxed on my own, and I’ve been clean ever since. “

Speaking from his own experience, Heard said the biggest obstacle in the province’s fight against the drug crisis is the gap between access to detox and treatment.

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He said he spent more than a month waiting to detox, and that others have waited several more times to enter treatment facilities, especially if they don’t have the kind of financial resources his family was able to muster.

“You detox, you have that drive and will and you want to cleanse yourself and change your life, and there may not be a (treatment) bed available. So you quit the detox and you have nowhere to go, “he said.

“Everyone deserves a chance in life and I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to be clean and can’t afford it.”

With more than two years clean, Heard is now focused on her dream of owning her own gym, being a mother, and giving back.

She says she hopes her own success story can help others struggling with a sense of hopelessness.

“A big part is access and resources, but the other part is finding that inner strength: everyone who is struggling with addiction deserves a life,” he said.

“It’s really hard to see that when you’re at it (but) everyone has the ability to go out there and find a better life.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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