Recovered crystal meth addict hopes conference educates on dangers, road to recovery
- Andrea Ledding | April 08, 2019
Crystal meth addiction and usage is becoming an epidemic in the province, so Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) organized a two-day conference on crystal meth April 3rd and 4th with over 300 individuals and organizations in attendance.
“I think the average person needs to understand how crystal meth affects you physically,” says Tala Tootoosis, who is a recovered user and recently published author. She doesn’t think she would have done it in the first place, if she had known that she would hallucinate. “The average person needs to know that people can get sober from it, and that you can use traditional medicines, ceremony, that there are answers out there...you can be a regular normal person again.”
She believes traditional medicines and ceremony, key in her healing journey, are an excellent way to heal from all sorts of problems, from addictions to mental and physical health issues.
“I was addicted to crystal meth for about a year, heavily,” said Tootoosis, who was 19 and working at a casino. She became homeless, lost her job, car, and daughter, and still didn’t see a problem. “I had finally gone home to sober up because my mom wasn’t willing to enable me anymore…she said we’ll help you sober up but you have to be willing to sober up.”
Every Friday they smoked traditional pipe, every Sunday they had a sweat, and went to many other ceremonies. “People in ceremony humbly accept you, they don’t shame you or judge you, they tell you their own life story, and their faith is so needed to recover from addiction.”
She went back to school wanting to share the message, and is a mental health counsellor, holds a social work degree, and is an author. “I got sober with traditional medicine, some do it with church, some with Buddhism, some with yoga...we need to meet the addict where they’re at.”
Addiction is 20% the drug and 80% the person, notes Tootoosis, so practices that reflect personal development and reflection and healing have the best success.
“This drug is getting worse and it’s scary, if you don’t know the worst of the worst, research it,” says Tootoosis, noting people will do some awful things while high on the drug. “Regular body functions and normal responses are gone and you have a robot operating from an extremely aggressive paranoid place…you just don’t care about anything but getting high. It’s extremely dangerous.”
She hopes more conferences like this continue to happen.
“An event like this can help people to understand the research that’s already being done in our communities, outside our communities, the information people want to know and think they need to know. This needs to happen more, especially with crystal meth.”
She noted that all the communities she goes to, to speak about her recovery from crystal meth, she is asked questions that show people are starting from zero: like what kind of needs assessments should be developed — but other communities and organizations already have excellent processes, methodologies and ideologies developed that simply need to be shared and implemented. SIIT made it their goal to bring many of these together under one roof and will continue to support community wellness and the sharing of best practices.