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Chabad Lifeline blog

These heroes ignored their son's calls for help


Niagara Falls.

Powerful. Beautiful. 

A picturesque town. Its jail though, is nothing to look at.

For Jeremy*, trying to reach his parents through a collect call 14 years ago, life was about to get much harder.


Jeremy hung out with the "party crowd" of his high school in Montreal's West Island. Athletic, self confident and good looking, he was very popular.

It started with alcohol, then Jeremy found escape in drugs. An occasional joint of marijuana with some friends led to heavy drugs until he was out of control. His home life suffered and his grades dropped significantly.

Then Jeremy started disappearing.

The first time, he was found the next evening near the Jacques Cartier bridge. But things grew steadily worse.


Neil* and Sandra* had heard of Chabad Lifeline after opening up to a close friend in recovery. They met with our Clinical Director and Family Counsellor Karen Bresinger MSW to discuss their son Jeremy. He was out of control, blacking out for days and reappearing with no memory of where he had been or what he had done. 

The suffering parents began attending our family program, receiving guidance, advice, and support. Then one day Jeremy went missing for a week.

It was 2:00 in the morning when they were woken by the long distance ringtone of their phone. Neil lifted the receiver. Police. From Niagara Falls, Ontario. Their son had just been arrested. He would be calling them soon.

When Neil put the receiver down, he started crying. He spoke it over with Sandra. Recalled the advice from the family counsellor not to accept collect calls from their son. Their son had to hit rock bottom. They could no longer continue to be his crutch. 

The phone started ringing. Long distance. The two clutched each other, fighting back the urge to lift it. Sobbing. Knowing their decision was the right one.


Jeremy couldn't fathom the possibility that his parents wouldn't have his back. He kept calling. But no one picked up the phone.

In jail, he broke down. The breakdown led to a dual diagnosis (a condition of suffering from a mental illness and substance abuse problem). He was an addict with bipolar disorder.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 12% of those living with a dual diagnosis get the help they need for both disorders. That is why it is essential for someone with a dual diagnosis to be treated for both the addiction and the mental illness.

Jeremy returned to Montreal and started getting the help and healing he needed. At Chabad Lifeline he learned that he was not a bad kid. He was just a young man with mental health and addiction problems. 

With proper psychiatric care and our treatment plan working hand in hand, and thanks to the strength of his parents, Jeremy was able to turn his life around.

Jeremy has been in recovery for 14 years. He now runs a successful business in downtown Montreal. Last summer, he took his wife to see the majestic Niagara Falls. When he FaceTimed his parents from Canada's wonder of the world, they answered on the first ring.


*Please note that names and certain details were changed to protect the identities of the people in this true event.

Lew Lewis invites Rabbi Bresinger to present to EMSB Guidance Counselors

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People don't speak enough about the children living with the addict.

The quiet child whose older sister keeps stealing her mother's medication and disappearing for days. The silent kid doing well in school but rocking his mother to sleep at night because she's a crack addict. The young girl with twelve bottles of alcohol in her closet that she managed to hide from her brother.

These are the innocent victims, and they often suffer silently. If untreated, they grow into people with serious underlying problems that affect their relationships and lives.

Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger is the Director of Chabad Lifeline. He recently developed a provocative PowerPoint presentation to bring awareness to the plight of these innocent victims.

Following two successful "innocent victim" presentations to an audience of 200 educators at the English Montreal School Board, Lew Lewis, EMSB's Director of Student Services, invited Rabbi Bresinger to speak to a team of 30 Guidance Counselors.

"On March 14, 2018, Director of Chabad Lifeline Rabbi Bresinger and Addictions Counselor Laurie Baum made an inspiring as well as very informative presentation to the EMSB Guidance Counselors on the issue of drugs and other addictions and its impact on adolescents," said Lew Lewis. "In addition, they spoke about the nature of the very valubale services offered by Chabad Lifeline and this was very much appreciated by all."

To view photos from the presentation event, click here.

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