If we can’t talk about addiction and mental health within our own families how will we ever be able to talk about these ideas as a society?
This is a question one local author along with her long time friend hope to answer with their recently written memoirs.
Jodee Prouse, a Sylvan Lake resident of nearly 15 years, and Dwayne Higgins, who currently lives in Vancouver, attended Lindsay Thurber High School together.
Following Higgins moving to Los Angeles after graduation, the pair lost touch with one another. Nearly 30 years had passed the pair by, only to be reconnected recently over social media.
It soon became apparent to Higgins and Prouse that although their lives had gone down very different paths, both of their lives had been intertwined by one common thread – addiction.
Ironically enough, at the time of the reunion they were both publishing books on how alcoholism, addiction and mental health had affected them personally.
Higgins’ novel, From Reel to Real, tells the tale of a young graduate hopping on his motorcycle and heading for California. He soon has the ‘American dream’ in sight working as a prop master in Hollywood alongside big name celebrities.
Eventually his six-figure income and beautiful life were ripped out from under him by a crippling drug and alcohol addiction. Higgins recalls hitting rock bottom on Vancouver’s lower east side after having been deported from the U.S. due to various drug and alcohol related charges. Addicted to cocaine, heroine and alcohol – it took years before Higgins would find salvation.
“For me, because I’m a Christian, I found my salvation when I found God,” recalls Higgins who got clean following three suicide attempts and an accidental overdose that left him dead fora number of minutes.
Prouse’s tale tells a different side of the addiction spectrum. A side she says is so often under represented. Her memoir, titled ‘The Sun Is Gone’, recounts the life of her brother, Brett Tisdale.
In her book, Prouse details how her brother’s alcoholism affected their family over the years. She tells of how she tried for years with no avail to help her brother into recovery before he eventually took his own life at the age of 39.
“I have read probably 30 or 40 addiction books and Brett’s story would rank up near the top when it comes to dark and disturbing,” said Prouse. “But it’s a story that needs to be told because there are many, many families who lose their loved ones to drug and alcohol addiction.”
“I want to encourage family members of addicts to get help for themselves. Of course it’s important for the addict to get help, but so often the family members never do and it can leave them feeling lost, especially if their loved one doesn’t get treatment.”
She feels there is not enough support available to the families of addicts. She explained how often times families are not willing to talk about alcoholism – an addiction that so often runs in families.
“My book starts with, ‘I have known what an alcoholic was since I was six years old’,” said Prouse. “Not because anyone told me, families keep secrets and mine is no different. Or shouldI say they think they do but you figure things out quickly.”
“When you come from a family where alcoholism runs in your family, it becomes our lessons of normal – alcoholism becomes our right not our wrong, because we see it growing up and think it’s okay.”
Higgins agrees that alcoholism, addiction and mental health are multi-generational issues. Within his own family he has watched it ravage three generations within his bloodline.
“Addiction is generational,” said Higgins who’s father and grandfather were also alcoholics, with his grandfather eventually taking his own life also. “I’ve tried to take my own life three times and was once dead on the floor for five minutes following an accidental overdose,” recalls Higgins. “Any addict or alcoholic has had a time in their life where they’ve thought about killing themselves.”
Prouse and Higgins hope their stories will shed light on the impacts of addiction and mental health.
“Addiction rips families to shreds and that’s why not only does the addict need to get help but so do the families,” said Prouse who reminds family members of addicts to stay strong, get help for themselves and above all – talk with one another about what is happening. She also reminds family members of addicts to remember they are not perfect and that dealing with an addict is challenging – a challenge you yourself are bound to make mistakes with when solving it as no one is perfect.
For more information or to purchase Dwayne Higgin’s ‘From Reel To Real’ visit www.fromreeltoreal.com. Prouse’s book is currently undergoing finalization and will be available soon. To stay up to date with ‘The Sun Is Gone’ visit www.hopeandhumility.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.