HV-GB woman understands addiction from both sides

Teri Drosch of Happy Valley Goose Bay uses her experience with drug addiction to help others.


Published on March 3, 2017

Teri Drosch of Happy Valley Goose Bay uses her experience with drug addiction to help others.

©Submitted

Teri Drosch of Happy Valley-Goose Bay has lived both sides of drug addiction. Drosch spent almost a decade working in the field of mental health and addictions. What most people didn’t know was that, while reaching out to others, Drosch was batting her own addiction.

By the time she reached rock bottom, anything and everything that Drosch had ever loved was gone: her children, her husband, her home, her job.

“This time two years ago I didn’t know where I was going to get my next ten dollars from,” Drosch said during a recent phone interview.

Drosch’s story dates back to her childhood. It wasn’t a good upbringing, she said.

As a pre-teen she experimented with alcohol and street drugs.

Drosch moved to Alberta at age 15. She gave birth to her first child while still in her teens.

“My children are now almost 18 and almost 13 now. I was a baby having babies,” the 34-year-old said.

Drosch lived in Alberta for about four years before moving back to Labrador.

The young mother began using cocaine while in her mid-twenties.

“My husband (Franz Drosch) is a recovering drug addict as well. Before I met him, he was in Halifax going to university and that’s where he got introduced to cocaine,” she said.

Drosch said after seeing her husband use cocaine for a couple of years, she decided to give it a try.

“At first I’d do it recreationally... when we’d get a babysitter and go out. Then, within a year, it was using it every evening when my children would go to bed.”

In time, cocaine took on a whole new importance in Drosch’s life.

She started showing up late for work.

“Then, I’d feel so messed up I’d stay home from work. And before I knew it I was using it all day long and all night long.”

The time came when Drosch couldn’t take care of herself or her children. She and her husband had become strangers.

“We were in two opposite ends of the house and didn’t even know who each other were.”

By the time she’d reached her late twenties, Drosch was battling a morphine addiction after she was given a prescription for the drug following surgery.

After her prescription pills were gone, someone suggested they could get Drosch morphine pills on the street.

Drosch hoped taking the pills regularly could help her beat her cocaine addiction.

“In my sick, addict brain, that’s what I thought.”

The cocaine and the pills went “hand-in-hand” for a year or two, she said.

“Then, I just started using the pills for five or six years. And about three years ago I started using cocaine again and was using both.”

Opiates such as morphine are more expensive than cocaine, Drosch said.

“We were paying a dollar a milligram and when you’re taking 700 or 800 milligrams a day so you don’t get ill, that’s seven or eight hundred dollars a day.”

Before addiction, she said, her family had a great life and all that two well paying jobs brings.

But, at times, she said, the addiction to both cocaine and morphine came with a price tag of almost $2,000 a day.

“We started taking some of our mortgage money and putting it towards the drugs. We started dipping into our savings for drugs.”

The addiction left both Drosch and her husband without an income.

However, the couple lost much more than their salaries.

The children were removed from the home and placed with relatives.

Drosch said she and her husband knew, at the time, that they could not care for their kids and agreed that they be taken from the home.

“I was providing for the kids. Getting them their breakfast and their dinner and their supper... we were providing them with the necessities of life but we weren’t giving them their sense of belonging and loving.”

After the children left, she said, things got really bad.

“We never had no reason to hide (the drugs) anymore. I didn’t have a reason to get up and clean the house. I didn’t have a reason to cook or to hide my addiction. To go into the closet and do a line of coke. Everyone knew at that point we were drug addicts... And we didn’t care anymore.”

Drosch’s husband ended up in jail for crimes related to his drug addiction. The couple’s relationship ended.

Her husband moved back into their home once released from jail while Drosch got her own apartment.

“The bank was ready to take the house. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have anything. I had to give my two dogs to the grandparents. I couldn’t even afford to buy them food. I couldn’t afford to pay my rent in my apartment.”

The side effects of morphine withdrawal are “horrible” she said.

“I tried to quit. I went two days lying in my bed, with cold sweats. Peeing and pooping myself. There is nothing you can do.”

Drosch said she comes from a large family. However, she said, her drug addiction kept them apart.

“I woke up one day and I went to Labrador Grenfell Health for help. They told me they’d put me on a wait list and call me in a few months. I got really depressed and I attempted suicide.”

Her cry for help bumped her to the top of the mental health list, she said.

Drosch began seeing a counsellor every week and was eventually accepted into an out-of-province treatment centre.

“I haven’t looked back since,” she said.

Drosch has been sober since the summer of 2015. She is back with her husband and her children have been returned to their care. They are living in the home they almost lost.

“Our mortgage is paid up. We have two vehicles again... This is the happiest and healthiest we’ve ever been. I really do feel fulfilled.”

Drosch now reaches out to other addicts to let them know recovery is possible.

A Nunatsiavut government beneficiary, she hosts the weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings (Wednesday at 7 pm) at the Nunatsiavut government building at 218 Kelland Drive in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

She has also set up a Facebook page (Goose Bay Recovery) for people battling drug addictions.

Drosch said she feels much support from the community. Many people understand that addiction can happen to anyone, she said.

Sharing her story helps people realize what their loved ones who are dealing with addiction are going through, she said.

“And knowing how I’m doing gives drug addicts and recovering drug addicts a little bit of hope,” she said.

danette@nl.rogers.com