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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Benyamin Bresinger


Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Looking back on the journey that took me from the depths of marijuana addiction to a place of sanity, hope and healing, a wave of gratitude washes over me. My life had plummeted into an abyss of paranoia, isolation, and shame, and the remarkable team at Chabad Lifeline were there to lead the way out.

I started smoking weed as a teenager to suppress the unnameable tensions in my family home. But even as I entered adulthood and set out on my own, it lingered as a salve for every moment of discomfort, every vague dissatisfaction. Over time, things deteriorated to the point that leaving my apartment became a gruelling challenge. Picture me, a perpetual overthinker, descending slowly into a seemingly endless loop of paranoia. The world around me seemed radioactive. Going outside? No thanks — I’m good! Talking to people? An infinite source of judgment and inner anguish. My world shrank to the size of my studio apartment, and even that remained a battleground. Texts from friends and family felt like overt threats. The idea of answering a phone call seemed laughable. Amid a particularly intense bout of anxiety, a realization dawned on me – I was utterly lost and I desperately needed help. That's when Lifeline stepped in with an intensive crash course in reclaiming my life. An especially remarkable facet of the program was the psychoeducation. You may be shocked to learn that I am not a neuroscientist, but my counsellor was nevertheless able to explain to me the brain’s potential for recovery despite the toll my marijuana use had taken. And that it would recover in a tangible, physical way. Acquiring knowledge about the science of addiction and recovery was like switching on a lightbulb. I had always assumed my addiction was a result of my personal inadequacies, which made it nearly impossible to talk about. Our discussions around the brain's capacity to rewire itself and regain equilibrium gave me a glimmer of hope. Trust me, in the depths of darkness, even a faint glimmer can feel like salvation. It was as though I had been given a permit to be kinder to myself and a goal to aspire to at the same time. Also integral to my treatment were the group sessions at Chabad Lifeline. By meeting others who understood my pain, I not only started to heal, but gained an enthusiastic momentum that would have seemed impossible just months earlier. Sharing our stories, fears, and hard-won wisdom allowed me to reconnect with people and start trusting others again. Chabad Lifeline's influence extended beyond merely helping me overcome addiction; they equipped me with the tools to rebuild my life. I’ve developed a fresh perspective and rekindled a self-love that had long lain dormant. So, for anyone dealing with their own battle, please know that there is a way out, even if you can’t see it right now. The key is to find those who know the path.

*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 Jenny 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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