No one tries drugs for the first time hoping to become an addict. At a young age, Tausha Scott watched her dad die from a drug-induced heart attack, and swore she’d never walk that path.
But then Tausha fell in love with a guy. He was a drug user, and he was abusive, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
“I told myself I would get high to see if he would love me,” the now 34-year-old recalled. “It spiralled down from there and it took me down a very dark hole.”
Tausha and that guy were together, off and on, for 14 years and had four children together. Tausha sobered up for the first pregnancy and was doing really well until he cheated on her. In her despair she ran back to drugs and back to him.
At times they were homeless. In the dead of a Saskatchewan winter they lived in a tent in a neighbour’s back yard, which Tausha jokingly called their ‘baller tent.’
“We had a little plate for cooking. We had heaters. We had everything in that tent,” she said.
Tausha’s children were taken away from her and placed into government care, but not before they saw a lot of bad stuff. Her memories of their early years are hazy because of the drug use, but she knows they were surrounded by addicts who came and went and used around the kids. They witnessed physical and mental abuse.
“It was the pain from losing my children that kept me using because I felt defeated. Waking up and feeling that pain every morning, that was the lowest point,” Tausha said. “I tried to get them back several times, but every time I’d be doing well and I’d be clean and get my kids back, somehow my ex would know that I was happy. He’d call me and there I was going back to him and spiraling down again.”
Before she came to B.C., Tausha met a different guy. He sold her drugs and they liked each other, so they sold drugs and did the homeless addict thing together. But Tausha had become very abusive toward men and she treated J.P. so poorly that he abandoned her and moved to B.C.
He did well on the West Coast. He cleaned up and got a job and had his life on track until Tausha followed him. Remember all those times her ex reeled her back into using? She did the same thing to J.P.
“I missed him so much and I called him constantly, and finally he said I could join him if I was ready to put the lifestyle behind me,” she admitted. “But I brought drugs with me and I got him right back into using.”
Looking back now, Tausha thinks she would have ended up dead if not for an ultrasound and a phone call.
The ultrasound was for her fourth child, Abbey-gayle. Still in the throes of addiction, feeling hopeless and overwhelmed, Tausha and J.P. had decided to not bring a baby into their world. But when they saw her heartbeat, they couldn’t go through with an abortion.
But in July 2021, around six months into the pregnancy, their lifestyle was the same. Tausha was living in a car. She continued drinking and using drugs. She didn’t eat well, didn’t do anything to take care of herself or her unborn child.
Then came a life-changing phone call from Vancouver Women’s Hospital and Health Centre. She secured a spot in the FIR (Families in Recovery) program, and spent close to a year living in the hospital. Prescribed methadone and hydromorphone, she battled through the horrible dope sickness that comes with withdrawal.
“A big reason I kept using was because of that sickness, and the people at the hospital did so much to make me comfortable,” Tausha said. “If not for the phone call that got me into that program, I think I’d probably be dead right now. I know for a fact that my daughter wouldn’t be with me.”
It’s said that recovery doesn’t work until an addict is ready, and Tausha said that is 100 per cent true. She was ready.
“I’ve tried this so many times. I’ve tried to do it so many times for my children, but you can’t do it for anyone else,” she said. “You have to do it for yourself and you have to honestly be sick of that lifestyle.”
It took a strongly-worded ultimatum from Tausha to J.P. to get him to follow her into recovery.
“I told him, ‘You can have this lifestyle or you can come to be with me and your daughter, but we can’t be around that,” she said.
Tausha and J.P. applied twice for RAN’s Family Centre and moved to Chilliwack in 2022. Opened in May 2019, the Family Centre provides 36 affordable rental apartments with wrap-around services and programming. The building includes a teaching kitchen, multi-purpose rooms, a childcare centre, and a medical clinic offering medical, pharmaceutical, counseling, and chiropractic services. Dental services are coming soon.
It was the supportive environment Tausha and J.P. needed to stay on track, with Tausha calling it the best thing that’s ever happened to them. On a sunny Thursday morning at the Family Centre, with Abbey-gayle running around the room with a big smile on her face, Tausha said counselling and a faith-based approach have been essential to her recovery.
“I believe anyone who wants to be in recovery needs a higher power, and for me it’s God,” she said. “Every morning I wake up and pray. I spend an hour with God before bed and that’s what keeps me level and balanced.”
Talking to God is one thing. Talking to people is another.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but me and my partner, we shoved things down,” she said. “When you do that, it gets you back to using, so you have to talk about things. There are a lot of amazing people in this building and it’s a family. We feel so welcome and pretty much anything we need, they’ll get it for us.
“We feel like we belong and we’re loved, and a lot of us didn’t have that until we came here. I have so many loving people here that I don’t want to disappoint.”
J.P. now has a well paying full-time job and Tausha is loving life as a mother. People around her say she’s great at it. She is also a go-to volunteer at the Family Centre.
Recovery is an ongoing and never-ending process for an addict. The danger of relapse is always there. There have been times when Tausha’s felt the pull, but she knows where the dark path leads. Abbey-gayle is the biggest safeguard Tausha could have. The idea that she can stay clean and re-connect with her other children is another.
Sharing her story keeps her accountable and she hopes it provides hope for other addicts who are where she was.
“I want other addicts to know that it is possible and they’re not alone,” she said.