Each year at Rock ‘n’ Roll Vancouver many participants walk, or run the 10K or Half Marathon.  On race day many stand at the start line in Vancouver ready to  display to the world how well they’ve prepared for this fabulous race, an end similar to what Kelsey, a student and fellow runner at John Volken Academy (JVA), hopes to accomplish with her life transforming experience while training and recovering from addiction at JVA .  Learn about her story and how John Volken Academy, Rock n Roll Vancouver charity parnter has helped her change into a woman ready to blossom and conquer the world.

kelsey-runningMy downward spiral into the bottomless pit of addiction started at the early age of twelve. My older sister invited me out with some of her friends and to go to the mall. I felt so excited that they were including me in their outing and that they thought I was cool enough to hang out with them. On the way to the mall, they asked if I minded if they smoked marijuana. I really didn’t think much of smoking because I saw everyone else doing it and thought it looked like a good time. The fact that it took away all my emotions and made me not care what was going on around me gave me incentive to continue using. Anything to escape from myself seemed like an okay idea. After consistently smoking marijuana for about six months I gave it up so that I could focus on being a pre teen and continue doing what I loved most, playing soccer. That little break from using was just that, little. It didn’t take long for me to miss escaping the parts of me that I didn’t like and the parts of me that I just didn’t want to deal with.

In tenth grade I started partying and I was off to the races. Very rarely did you catch me at home spending time with my family or at any kind of family function for that matter. If it didn’t have to do with me getting high, it was a waste of my time and an inconvenience.   For the next eight years, my life became less and less meaningful. One bad decision lead to another and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. At age eighteen I had managed to get into a pretty good college and I began to study there. I moved out of state and started my new life away from where my using was a problem. I was convinced that my using was a direct result of my circumstances as well as my environment. I was far from the truth.

While in college, I couldn’t stay sober for a single day, let alone an hour. I skipped classes took federal grants to support my habit and continued to lie to my family, telling them that all was well and that I was living clean and sober. But once the grades were shown to my mother, she quickly realized I was skipping classes and was probably not sober. After numerous chances I was asked to leave the school. I came home to my mother’s house the summer of 2012 and had no idea how I had ended back up where I had started.

I remember sitting on my bed in my room with clothes all over the ground. The paint on my walls had a yellow tint to them from smoking in the room. I remember thinking how I just didn’t want to live anymore but I didn’t have the strength to kill myself. I wanted to die. I believe that’s when I hit bottom. I would do anything to escape myself. Instead of suicide I decided to try injecting heroin. At least this way if I died it would look like an accident.

I lost all my morals and all my boundaries. I would do anything and everything for my next high. This continued for about 6 months. I was in and out of short term treatment programs wondering why I couldn’t stay sober. During one of my many attempts to get sober I was told I was severely and physically ill due to my addiction. I relapsed that same day and gave up on the idea of living a healthy successful life. My family had been looking into long term treatment programs for months and stumbled across one that seemed different than the rest, as well as suitable for my specific case.

The place was The John Volken Academy and it was a six hour plane ride from the east coast. I honestly thought it was going to be somewhat of a vacation for me so I agreed and flew out there that same week.  During my stay here I have learned many job skills, I have learned how to have structure throughout my day and I have learned how to set goals for myself, most importantly how to achieve those goals. I have also been given the tools to deal with difficult situations, deal with my emotions and communicate to others how I actually feel. I can honestly say today thanks to this program I know who I am and I love myself. I am finding out what my true passions are and pursing goals that I never thought I could.

One of my many passions is running. Last year I walked the 10k and found it to be soothing and a great view. I was two months clean then and now I plan on running the half marathon as well as the 10k. I have been training rigorously and love the challenge of running my first half marathon. Running is a tool I use to relieve stress and clear my head.  Now a year into my program, I can honestly say the John Volken Academy has given me my life back and by sharing my story today, I hope to pay it forward and help the still suffering addict who doesn’t think recovery is possible for them.  By participating in this half marathon and/or 10k you are giving someone out there a chance to change, a chance to find out who they really are and to meet their full potential. This is all about spreading the word about addiction. It is real and affects millions of people out there, and there is treatment for those affected. The treatment that I know works is the John Volken Academy and that’s why I think anyone reading my story should support Team Volken.