Fighting addiction, going to school, healing trauma in lockdown

Jeremy Raven is a Winnipeg man who openly shares details of his efforts to break a lifetime cycle of crime and addiction. He is actively in recovery and hopes by sharing his story that it will help others in crisis “start the process of change.” Here is his latest update.

My name is Jeremy Raven.

I am 36 years old and was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

I needed to change my lifestyle so I looked at my options and started searching for ways of getting the help I so desperately needed. I signed up for a program that dealt with childhood traumas, enrolled in counselling sessions and started doing the work.

Prior to this, while incarcerated, I attended a program that helped me connect with other second stage sober living houses. I applied at something called “addiction recovery incorporated” (A.R.I) and within two weeks I was accepted.

After serving two years at Headingley Correctional Centre, I was released. It was December 2019.

I have found myself and a way for making my dreams fall into place.– Jeremy Raven

Upon my release, I enrolled in a program called Re-Act. The program deals with complex trauma, co-dependency and boundaries. I also attended counselling sessions once a week. I completed this program and accepted a certification of achievement. 

I knew I needed to stay busy, so I also signed up at the Adult Education Centre, where I am currently working on obtaining my education so that I can receive my high school diploma. 

Due to COVID-19 and my lack of education, I’ve been going through the uncomfortable days dealing with sobriety and life in general.

I found a few support groups that I stay connected to. I also try to volunteer as much as possible, to help me stay on the straight and narrow. I need to stay busy.

I believe in myself.– Jeremy Raven

In the process of all my work, I have found myself and a way for making my dreams fall into place. For me, school was the answer I needed. I put thoughts into action making this all possible. Letting go of all of my unhealthy habits and replacing them with healthy new habits has been the key to my success.

I have been soul searching and getting back to my Indigenous roots to reconcile with the person I truly desire to be.

Raven says working toward a Grade 12 education has been one of his biggest milestones. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

I have changed my whole outlook on life — after going through the uncomfortable transformation from incarceration to sober living. I am growing through the learning curves of every day living, and connecting with people that are on the same journey as me.

I believe in myself. I am taking the proper steps necessary, making the right choices to be the man I want to be. Life doesn’t get better by chance. It gets better by choice. 

In this time period, I have completed the Re-Act program, monthly counselling, and I’m working towards my Grade 12 diploma. My greatest achievement, though, is being a role model and positive support to my children.

These have been my biggest milestones — as well as learning the importance of being independent and following through with my short- and long-term goals, one day at a time. 

I have accomplished 14 months of sobriety on the outside, surpassing the one year milestone.

One year sober.

WATCH | Jeremy Raven on why he’s sharing his story:

Winnipeg’s Jeremy Raven has been sharing details of his efforts to break a lifetime cycle of crime and addiction. He is actively in recovery and hopes sharing his story will help others in crisis. 2:53

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.