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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Benyamin Bresinger


Updated: Jul 26, 2023

I’ll start by being as open as I can about my situation. For years, I have battled a demon that slowly consumed me: marijuana. It all began as a desperate attempt to cope with the dysfunction that plagued my family, a dysfunction rooted in my older sister's tumultuous relationship with drugs. Her addiction drained us emotionally and financially for decades. It was like a wildfire that swept through our lives, leaving destruction and a noxious atmosphere in its wake.

Growing up, I idolized my sister. She was charismatic, daring, and seemingly fearless. But as she fell deeper into drug use after leaving home for college, she lost herself, and her actions began to tear our family apart at the seams. Witnessing her downward spiral was heart-wrenching, and after several fruitless attempts to support her while I was still in high school, I felt powerless to help. The chaos at home pushed me toward despair, and I needed an escape route, a way to survive emotionally.

I turned to marijuana as a way to relax and forget the troubles that plagued my family. But as the years passed, I found myself relying on it more and more. It became my refuge, my buffer from reality. It got to the point where I could hardly eat or sleep without getting high. Even so, I never realized that this escape would lead me down a path with have far-reaching consequences.

As I descended deeper into my marijuana dependency in adulthood, I failed to recognize the profound impact it was having on my two young sons. My addictive behaviors and emotional absence were trickling down to them while they were at their most impressionable, and they began displaying their own unhealthy coping mechanisms.

When I finally acknowledged the toll my addiction was taking on my sons, I knew I had to get them help. I mustered up the courage to get in touch with Lifeline. To my surprise, they didn't just offer help for my sons; they offered support for me as well. And not just as a parent, but as an individual. I resisted at first, rationalizing that my kids were the priority. But the Lifeline team was invested in helping me identify and deal with the core of my addiction. In addition to providing me with addiction counselling, they introduced me to Jennifer Kotry, a trauma therapist who would become a crucial part of my journey to healing.

During my time with Lifeline, I learned coping mechanisms that didn't involve self-medication. I discovered healthier ways to process my emotions and confront the challenges life threw at me. Jennifer helped unravel the painful memories that I had buried deep inside. It was a challenging process, tending to all these unhealed wounds. But Jennifer was there every step of the way, guiding me through the darkness with compassion and empathy.

As I started to heal, I also saw positive changes in my sons’ behaviour. The relief brought on by this development is almost indescribable: knowing they can be spared the path I took means everything to me.

I want to acknowledge that our journey is ongoing. There are moments when the allure of marijuana still tempts me. But now, I have the tools and support to resist its grasp. I know that my life doesn't have to be in a constant state of crisis, and I don't need to turn to substances for solace.

Lifeline gave me the gift of hope, the belief that I can rewrite my story and be a source of strength for my sons. Together, we are freeing ourselves from the narrative of past dysfunction. If my journey teaches anything, it's that it's okay to ask for support when life feels overwhelming. And with the right guidance and determination, it's possible to break free from addiction and embrace a future filled with promise.

*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 Ken 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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