Her life was spiraling out of control, but unlike most addictions stories, White Rock native Meghan Siemes, 27, has taken an extremely proactive approach: she checked herself into the Welcome Home Addiction Recover Academy this past October, and now feels every day like it was the best decision of her life.
In addition to all of the daily programming at Welcome Home, Siemes and her fellow students are preparing to take part in the second annual Run for Recovery, which will be a five-or 10-kilometre run or walk on Aug. 12, to raise awareness for the way Welcome Home helps men and women commit firmly to change.
"This run will be different because I don't believe there are any other therapeutic communities out there like this; the support we get here is unreal," Siemes said.
"We need to bring awareness, because there are a lot of people who don't know this kind of help is out there. The Welcome Home Society teaches me how to live, and not just how to get sober."
Siemes confidently explained how her life had reached the breaking point. She had exhausted her relationships with friends and family, and while she said she had "tried" methods to help herself, she knows now that for a long time she really wasn't doing what she needed to stay healthy and happy.
"My parents were holding onto our relationship by threads. It was like, we all tolerated each other and we tried to make it work because we're a family... I grew up in what you would call a 'normal' family: my parents are still together, I have one sister and they're all very family oriented and do all the family activities so I was always there for Christmas and birthdays, and on the surface we were together but it wasn't real," Siemes recalled.
"My parents took me in a few times and I decided that's not what I needed so I did my own thing, and I needed a program as a result of it."
The minimum commitment to the Welcome Home program is two years, and it is 24/7, with the students up at 6 a.m., and lights out at 11 p.m. Siemes said she would be lying if she said she hasn't had ups and really low downs, as she has her own struggles, but not once has she regretted joining the program.
There are currently 31 students in the program, with more men than women, but the women's branch is gradually being expanded. Siemes said the atmosphere at Welcome Home is incredibly positive and supportive and that everyone who comes out for the run as participants and volunteers will feel the energy.
The opening ceremony kicks off at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of PricePro, 6911 King George Blvd., with words from Welcome Home's founder, John Volken.
Following the run, the public is invited to a "community festival full of food, music and fun" from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The event will feature live music by local artists Alexandria Maillot and Danny Echo, and there will be dancing, face painting, a bouncy castle, food and refreshments.
Prizes will also be given away every half hour, including an iPad.
"Everyone there will really catch the vibe we have here, people are all pumped up and inspired to be here and do things," Siemes said.
The cost to register for the 5K run is $30 and $40 for the 10K route. Teams of five or more get a $5 discount per person. Each participant will receive a T-shirt.
For information on volunteer opportunities or sponsorships, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-754-9015.
Register at runforrecovery.net.