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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Benyamin Bresinger


From adolescence into my 20s, I found it truly challenging to summon the enthusiasm to be around other people. The anxiety seemed like too high a price to pay for the level of connection I’d feel talking to someone through a filter of endless self-doubt.

My introduction to cocaine seemed like the solution to all my problems. It unlocked a world of nightlife and parties that had always seemed unfathomable to me. Socializing became a way to release anxiety, rather than amplify it. Unfortunately, it lowered my inhibitions to the point where I would say any dumb or mean thing that crossed my mind. The regret I would feel the morning after would ratchet up my anxiety, and I would count the minutes until I could escape it again.

Late nights became all-nighters, desperately clinging to the chatter generated by doing more lines until the sun came up. As a freelance writer, I took on less and less work until paying my rent while maintaining my habit became impossible. Also seemingly impossible at the time: tempering my habit in any significant way. I asked my parents for help, and they agreed to make a monthly deposit for an amount that was probably more than they could afford.

Without telling them, I moved out of my apartment, and started a series of stays at friends’ places. As you might imagine, even the most patient friend has limits when it comes to housing a cocaine addict who doesn’t contribute anything in the way of rent or chores. Eventually, I was facing down the end of a stay on a friend’s couch with no idea where I was going to go next.

I moved in with my parents, and despite my initial attempts at concealing my daily coke use, the ruse quickly unraveled. They gave me an ultimatum: get help or get out. I called Chabad Lifeline that afternoon.

I’m writing this a week after I graduated treatment at Lifeline. I spent a year under the care of an Addictions Counsellor, who became my lifeline as I navigated sobriety, attending meetings at the centre and around the city. It was incredible to feel the anxiety lift as I opened up in counselling sessions and during meetings. I could feel the lack of judgment, and that made a profound difference to me. It was as though I was getting practice not feeling nervous and self-conscious until I could do it on my own as it spread throughout the rest of my life.

I now have a nine-to-five job and just moved into my own apartment, taking comfort from my daily routine and relationships rather than approaching them with dread. And I still attend two meetings a week. There’s no other way to say it: reaching out for help saved my life.

*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved, as the story was adapted after being told to a Lifeline staff member with permission to share. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Jill immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.

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