Using art to recover from addiction

Tyler Sullivan King addresses attendees of an addiction recovery breakfast; Hamilton, September 24, 2014


The stroke of a paint brush — the power of words — and the magic of music are all being used to help people in Hamilton recover from addiction. This is the powerful story of a how one woman who was addicted to crack put down the pipe, picked up the pen and changed her life.

Lisa Colbert is a PTA mom who ran a successful daycare business until the lure of crack cocaine came knocking: “Let me in, I’m knocking gently at your door. I’m waiting for you and your need for more.”

That’s part of a poem Lisa wrote about her addiction. She says the need for more crack cocaine cost her custody of her child and she would have eventually paid the ultimate price: “Drugs can completely overtake your life and the obsession and the compulsion that comes with them is like a love affair like no other.”

Except the love for your children. Losing custody of her daughter prompted Lisa to go into treatment. And writing poetry has helped her stay clean for 18 months: “When I write a poem I’ll see the progression of starting out in maybe some negativity maybe some things from the past and by the end I’m back in the solution.”

For 19-year old Tyler Sullivan-King it’s music that’s keeping him clean: “I can be as dark as I want, I can express the suicidal thoughts, I can express the demons inside myself and people congratulate me on my talent and other people can relate to it they don’t feel as alone.”

He says he began drinking at the age of 8 and by 14 was doing drugs: “I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t go a day without thinking of suicide or without use. My only option was suicide. I took the extreme’s and I’ve been in treatment since then.”

Tyler and Lisa were two of a number of people who told remarkable stories of using art to overcome addiction on Wednesday. Some paint pictures, others play music or tell jokes. But the one thing they all have in common is they’re overcoming their addiction.

This is the eighth year for the recovery breakfast, celebrating people who are working toward wellness. The main message of today’s event is that people do recover from addiction. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction here are links to a number of services available in the community.

St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton

Hamilton Health Sciences


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