“I’m going on 15 years but when people ask me seriously about it, I tell them I have today.”
When I asked David where he was with his addiction, he said “I have today.” 15 years of sobriety and he still lives day to day battling his demons, although with a new lease on life. Since 2014, David has worked as an independent sober coach, helping those who suffer from addiction, just as he had all those years ago. David’s four-year addiction to crack cocaine left him separated from his family, isolated from his friends and on the verge of death more than once. Today, David is pleading with those who are in the position that he was once in to “pick up the phone and get some help.”
David was born on June 26, 1967 to an “affluent” Jewish household in Toronto. When he was 20 years old, he began working for his family business, Heritage Fine Clothing where he would be running operations as the company’s president. In an unfortunate twist, the extremely successful Heritage Fine Clothing would go bankrupt in 2004, leaving David scared about the future of his life, as well as the lives of his wife and children.
This fear, he says, is what led him to use crack cocaine for the first time. “My displacement, my anxiety and my feelings of not belonging went away instantly,” he recalls. “I thought that I had found the ultimate solution to all the pain that I had felt my whole life.”
David’s drug use progressively got worse, beginning with once a week trips to the dealer, then two times a week, then eventually everyday for nearly three years of crack cocaine.
His first big scare came in the form of a hospital visit where he was told by his doctor that he could have died at any moment. David had toxified one of his lungs due to continuous drug abuse, and was hospitalized for two months as doctors and surgeons drained his infected organs.
After his bout at the hospital, David went to rehab. He completed a 30-day program at Homewood Health in Guelph, Ontario, only to return to separation papers from his wife. Once again, David felt “displaced and scared.” Within six months of leaving rehab, David went back to crack cocaine.
“I had to hit a bottom… A feeling of losing everything and everyone,” he said. After eight months, David finally made the choice to get better. In 2007, David began his path to recovery. … a feeling of losing everything and everyone…
… a feeling of losing everything and everyone…
He participated in 12-step meetings, got a sponsor through Narcotics Anonymous and started talking to a drug counselor. Where David’s story differs from the average recovery story is that he made it his life’s goal to make a difference and help others who were in the position that he once was.
Just as he was on the path to recovery, he began working at JACS (Jewish Addiction Community Services) in Toronto. For eight years, he was a director of that charity “helping people and educating people.”
In the midst of working at JACS, David opened up his own halfway house, an institution for people with addictions to learn the skills necessary for integrating back into society after becoming sober. While working at the halfway house, David decided to go back to school on a continuing education basis.
In 2013, David received his drug counselling and Master’s of Social Work degrees from McMaster University. Since then, David has opened up rehabilitation centers across Canada and currently works as a private practice drug counselor where he is helping people “get sober… and improve their self esteem.”