Addiction, Recovery and Reconnection: How Cate found the strength to change her life from desperation to a future of possibilities

LOFT’s Ingles Housing and Support Services serves young women aged 16-26 in recovery from complex addiction, mental health, or eating disorder challenges. Cate was one of them.

Cate describes her childhood as “normal.” She had a loving, caring family, played sports, and was active in school. She and her friends also experimented with drugs but, for Cate, things got out of hand.

“First, drugs were my friend – then they were my enemy – then they were my God.” Cate dropped out of school. She stayed at friends’ more often than home. Her life spiraled out of control.

She moved to Toronto to live with her father. Unfortunately, the move brought her right to the “centre of all the trouble.” At a new school in Grade 11, she gravitated to the people who had drugs. She dropped out again.

Her parents tried to help. They would arrange treatment. They got her out of “juvie” and out of trouble with the police. But after four trips to rehab, they said “enough” and cut her off. No more bailing her out of jail or picking her up at the police station.

Cate acknowledges that those first four trips to rehab were for her parents, not for herself. “I wanted to stay in their good books, but I knew I wasn’t ready. After rehab, I came back to Toronto and went right to the corner of King and Bathurst and bought more drugs.”

“Personally, I think rehab works when you are right down there at the bottom, and I got to the bottom after they cut me off. Desperation gives willingness and makes it possible to change.”

After six more trips to rehab, Cate found Ingles House and she was finally ready. “I liked Ingles because the women are all under 26. When people your own age are going through the same thing, everyone is so supportive. Ingles is not just a house; we have support, life skills classes, do chores, and cook. I had to learn how to take care of myself.”

Now living independently, Cate has renewed her ties with her mom, dad, and brother. She has had dinner with her family, her grandmother, aunt, and cousins. Building trust again is slow, but she knows that her family cares and wants the best for her.

Cate is back in school. She’s working hard, juggling school and work. Her plans include college, perhaps to study fundraising or event planning. She believes in “career serendipity”, though, and is keeping her options open. She wants to meet as many people as possible to learn from them and explore all opportunities.

LOFT’s Ingles Housing and Support Services provides a drug and alcohol-free environment for young women to be supported during and/or after treatment for substance abuse. It offers recovery and support services in a structured environment where residents break with their old lifestyles and develop new skills. The program provides counselling and life skills, and encourages young women to build a support network, link with community resources, and prepare for education and employment.