Over­com­ing ad­dic­tion

Grand Falls-Wind­sor man tells his story of over­com­ing co­caine ad­dic­tion

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY SAMAN­THA GAR­DINER

Af­ter spend­ing six months in re­hab, Ryan Archie Saunders has re­mained sober for 31 months. Now, the ded­i­cated fa­ther wants to share his road to re­cov­ery with oth­ers.

GRAND FALLS-WIND­SOR, NL — Any­one who knew Ryan Archie Saunders 10 years ago, in the midst of a full blown co­caine ad­dic­tion, would not be­lieve he is now the soft spo­ken gen­tle­man who sat down for an in­ter­view with the Ad­ver­tiser.

At just 13-years-old Saunders tried co­caine for the first time. From there — through par­ty­ing and drink­ing — a whirl­wind ad­dic­tion took over his young life.

“I was al­ways one for par­ty­ing and drink­ing and that, so I guess I just started do­ing it and it got re­ally bad,” Saunders said.

It was 10 years ago when Saunders was living in Fort McMur­ray and he started los­ing jobs and not car­ing about work that he re­al­ized his recre­ational drug use had turned into an ad­dic­tion.

Living in Fort McMur­ray, days would pass when Saunders would not an­swer calls from fam­ily and friends back home in New­found­land. The peo­ple clos­est to him were left not know­ing if he was dead or alive.

Af­ter com­ing down from a high, the feel­ings of guilt would creep in for Saunders. He would get high again to make those feel­ings go away.

“I’d just keep cov­er­ing up all the hurt,” he said.

Saunders tried hun­dreds of times to quit us­ing drugs on his own us­ing sheer willpower, but it never worked for him. He en­joyed the life­style too much and the feel­ing he got when high on co­caine.

It was eight years af­ter re­al­iz­ing he had an ad­dic­tion that he fi­nally broke down and reached out for help.

“I was up for three days sniff­ing coke and smok­ing crack . . . down in the park­ing lot of (an) apart­ment build­ing I just broke down and called (dad) and told him I need help,” Saunders said.

Be­fore he made the phone call his fa­ther had no idea how far his son had fallen into the depths of ad­dic­tion.

Af­ter the ini­tial phone call to reach out for help, Saunders at­tended re­hab twice in Fort McMur­ray and once in New­found­land. It wasn’t un­til his fourth at­tempt at re­hab in Hal­i­fax at Searidge Re­hab Cen­ter — where he spent two months — that he be­came suc­cess­fully sober.

“I left Jan. 10 (2015) to go up there for Jan. 11. I wanted to quit but I loved it too much, I loved do­ing it and (at the same time) I didn’t want to (quit), I went up there to shut my par­ents up, but when I got up there I changed it and did it for me,” said Saunders

As of Aug. 11, 2017 Saunders has been sober for 31 months, but he said ev­ery day is hard. He still strug­gles and it takes a lot of willpower not to fall back into that life of ad­dic­tion. Ev­ery morn­ing when he wakes up he makes the con­scious de­ci­sion to stay sober.

So­bri­ety has en­abled Saunders to see straight and to en­joy life and his new daugh­ter, he said.

Some­times Saunders will share pho­to­graphs of him­self dur­ing his ad­dic­tion on so­cial me­dia, “and peo­ple will say, ‘Why do you share this — you look sick in this pic­ture’ and I say, ‘ Yea, but it mo­ti­vates me to not want to go back there,’” he ex­plained.

Dur­ing the Ad­ver­tiser in­ter­view with Saunders his eight­month- old daugh­ter was coo­ing and laugh­ing in the back­ground. The pho­tos of smil­ing faces of Saunders, his daugh­ter and her mother covered the walls.

On the day his daugh­ter was born Saunders was 23 months sober; she be­came his main rea­son and mo­ti­va­tion to stay sober.

Ten years ago Saunders would never have imag­ined he would be a fam­ily man with an eight-month-old daugh­ter, although it was some­thing he al­ways wanted in the midst of ad­dic­tion.

“I would have had to give up a buzz and I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “I know if I goes back it’s just go­ing to be straight giv­ing her and I’m not go­ing to be there for (my daugh­ter) and life is too good,” he said.

Saunders has built a new life for him­self but said he still has friends who are ad­dicted to drugs.

“I can’t worry about other peo­ple (though), I got to worry about my­self and me stay­ing sober,” Saunders said, “I’m here if they wanted help though. I can’t help ev­ery­body but if I can help some body some­where, (that’s great).”

His fi­nal words of ad­vice to any­one who may be in the midst of an ad­dic­tion now and are try­ing to quit is, “Don’t give up, do it for your­self.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ryan Archie Saunders has been sober for 31 months now. He is pic­tured with his daugh­ter who is his main mo­ti­va­tion for him to stay sober.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ryan Archie Saunders pic­tured here in the midst of his co­caine ad­dic­tion, six months be­fore his suc­cess­ful trip to re­hab.

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