Please tell us your story.
Alright, so my name is Justine Frankel and I’m 23 years old. I grew up in a very loving home, my parents still together and great, but always feeling like the black sheep of the family. I was a little more excentric, a little more out there. Being diagnosed with ADHD was the logical next step in the 3rd grade. I always hard a hard time making friends because I was always so confident and secure with who I was, and that person was against the mainstream of cool and normal. I was a crazy kid. When I entered highschool (in montreal highschool is grades 7 to 11), the bullying was intensified and thats when I started using. Being friends with the misfits gave me a sense of belonging and using just helped calm my mind and be the cool kid for once.
How long were you addicted & what? How did it change your life?
I was using for about 10 years, the longest having been clean at once for 3 months, but only to pass a drug test. I was an everyday, every hour pot smoker, as soon as 17 hit, drinking became a big part of my using, and of course i dabbled in other drugs from time to time. When i was diagnosed with depression, anti-deppresants were abused as well. It changed my relationships with my family and friends; i finally had a group i belonged to, but i was unable to be at home alone with myself or lying to my family. They knew there was an issue but they had no idea how bad it was. I was depressed every time i wouldnt be high, and the only thing that got me truly excited was the prospect to get high. Id be high at school, at work, at family gatherings, any time i could be.
What was the breaking point for you to get clean?
I had been wanting to get clean for a while, and my friends as well. The two of my best friends at the time got clean and i was still using daily. I remember coming up on a year of one of my closest friends being clean and promising her id be at that meeting to support her. That week i spent all my nights out and stoned and slowly realized i knew i wouldnt be there. I didnt tell her, i just didnt show up, and got stoned and drunk instead. When i realized how much i was dissapointing her and everyone around me, i was at a point where i couldnt look at myself inthe mirror and be proud of who i was anymore. I hated myself, and i had to make a change. It took about a week after that to actually set the plan in motion.
How did you get clean and how long have you been sober for? What was the hardest part for you about recovery and how did you overcome it?
I have been off narcotics for almost a year, and sober for a little over 9 months. I count both days because theyre so significant to me. I wouldnt have been able to stop it all at once. I started going to NA meetings and would cover my ears when they said alchohol is a drug, period. I would just pretend i was one of the different ones who werent included in that. As my drinking got worse, god sent me a sponsor who told it to me straight and said listen youre gona have to get fully clean or im not going to sponsor you anymore, and thats really what started me on the full clean path. The hardest parts for me were when i was having depressive episodes, when i was at family holidays (jews love to drink wine!) And especially this summer being in Israel for 3 months, it wasn’t easy staying clean. But calling my sponsor and having good support around me was really the rock to my clean time.
What is your motivation to stay clean? And how did you do it?
My motivation to stay clean is my future. I had none when i was using. I just got high and that was my past present and future. And now im working hard in school and i saved up all my drug money to take the trip of a lifetime to israel. My life wouldnt be like this if i was using. I wouldnt have a relationship with my family, with my friends, and especially, with myself. Ive had a hard time feeling a lot. Becuase i spent so long just numbing it. But feeling has been the scariest and most amazing part of being clean. Its just about learning that the drugs and alchohol dont make you fun- YOU make you fun.
For someone in the same situation as you who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?
Its hard to give good advice cause every addiction is a case by case basis. I really believe in NA’s 12 traditions and explaining that the program is based on attraction rather than promotion. I wouldnt promote NA or clean life to someone who doesnt want it. I would just say- listen if you have the desire for something better and stronger for yourself, then come to a meeting, just check it out. Talk to someone whos clean, just see where their life is at and know that with effort and belief in yourself, you can achieve that. We all started somewhere, some homeless, some divorced and have no family, some from loving households of people who care. Literally every background you can imagine. But we all wanted to get clean, and were all working hard at it. And you can be a part of a loving and belonging community of people who will help and care, and all you gotta do is show up and talk to someone after a meeting.
What is your life’s moto?
Ouu thats a hard one. My motto is “Not all those who wander are lost”. Thats a JRR Tolkien quote that lives very close to my heart. I see it as you may not be exactly where you want to be and where society thinks you should be, but exploring and learning and wandering doesnt mean you’re lost, it means youre on a journey. Life is about the journey.
Justine Frankel is a Concordia University student from Montreal, Quebec . I am passionate about working with children and with women from abusive households. I am a recovering addict who promotes body positivity and learning to love the skin you’re in. I am a major zionist and spend my summers traveling Israel, planning to live there when I finish school. I am so thankful and proud to have been asked for this interview because i think its so important to see how happy you can be living a clean lifestyle. Its not always easy, but it sure is worth it.