The Canadian Mental Health Association says people with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population.
Londoner, Evonne Sullivan, is a registered yoga teacher and a certified human resources professional. Sullivan struggled with alcohol addiction in the past and battles with anxiety. She is a person in long-term recovery for nearly five years.
Sullivan says her definition of addiction is when “you feel more normal with that substance or that behaviour than you do without it. You’re going to work, you’re doing things as far as regular society but all you really want to do is go back to that substance or behaviour that’s going to give you that relief.”
She says she realized something was wrong with her substance use when she could no longer hide her struggle.
“I was a functional alcoholic, I was still participating in life…but in the end it was that I needed alcohol to even function. It became to the point where I was losing things I worked very hard in life to achieve. I was very unhealthy. I knew I had to stop drinking alcohol to save my life.”
Sullivan says her lived experience with addiction allows her to share her journey of recovery with the community that helped her. She shares her journey to recovery through yoga and meditation. Sullivan teaches yoga classes in London for people struggling with addiction/mental illness and those who are affected by addiction/mental illness. The first forty five minutes of her class discusses recovery based on self care topics, following a yoga class.
This past summer, Sullivan lost a close friend of hers to opioid addiction. Roger Wong, came to know true joy in recovery, but ultimately the disease of addiction overcame him. Although Sullivan was unable to speak to me about her tragic loss, she brought me to a table with a picture of Wong and his favourite hat sitting next to it. She encourages people who are struggling with addiction to reach out because success stories do exist.
“You don’t always hear of successful cases of recovery you only hear about the people on the streets or you hear about the people who have lost their lives tragically or the people struggling, and so part of what I do is explain what I’ve been through and that success and health is possible and there is a long term recovery.”
Mental Health and Addictions Crisis centre: 519-433-2023
Evonne Sullivan: https://www.evonnesullivan.com/