Deborah Carter of Vancouver is the 2017 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the Addiction category.
In Winnipeg in 1997, Deborah’s car lost control on black ice, flipping several times along a highway – leaving her children unharmed, but Deborah with severe whiplash and a blood clot in her neck. This added onto the trauma she had undergone a few months earlier when she contracted Hepatitis C and HIV as the result of a sexual assault.
After the accident, Deborah and her kids moved in with her mother in Vancouver. She had trouble sourcing the same pain medication she had been prescribed in Montreal which led her to begin abusing prescription drugs and eventually using heroin to treat her physical pain from her accident, and to numb her emotional pain from her assault. She became addicted and after several unsuccessful rehab treatments, Deborah was kicked out of her home, spending the next four years living on the streets. During this time Deborah became pregnant, and upon giving birth, her daughter was placed into foster care.
Motivated to regain custody of her daughter, Deborah joined and successfully completed a 6-week outpatient program. She also joined the YWCA Crabtree Support Group – a safe place where she was able to build a support network and to gain a deeper insight into the issues that impacted her mental health. She began to volunteer there and eventually applied for a work position.
By joining the support group and successfully completing treatment programs to kick her addiction, Deborah was able to regain full custody of her daughter by her 1st birthday.
Deborah been able to share her personal journey with others, and with compassion, empathy and understanding, has become a vital resource for women in need. She currently works at YWCA Crabtree Corner Family Resource Centre in the Downtown Eastside Area as a Homeless Prevention Worker, Single Mother’s Facilitator and Outreach Worker. As well, she’s on on-call program assistant at WISH (a drop-in centre for women’s involved in the sex trade).
Deborah is committed to grow professional and personally and continues to take self-care courses. She worked with an alcohol and drug counsellor and has kept her sobriety for 10 years now. She is a dedicated mother, grandmother, and caregiver for her elderly mother and a positive influence on women battling addiction and violence issues in BC.
Photo credit: Dan Toulgoet