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Doing it for the kids: Parents confronting addiction


Pregnancies or new babies have provided an impetus for some people to kick drugs to the curb.

Author of the article:

Heather Polischuk

From left, Logan Badley and her child Havyn Badley, Tyler Seminuk and his child Mary-Jo Seminuk, and Jean Rice and her child Victoria Watkin all stand together for a photo in the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021.
From left, Logan Badley and her child Havyn Badley, Tyler Seminuk and his child Mary-Jo Seminuk, and Jean Rice and her child Victoria Watkin all stand together for a photo in the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Confronting addiction — particularly to drugs like crystal meth and fentanyl — is hard.

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Not everyone succeeds. But for some, leaving their old lives behind and finding new, healthier ones is crucial. Sometimes they do it because they don’t want to face a future behind bars or risk a fatal overdose. And sometimes they make the choice for others — particularly their children.

According to Amanda Carlson, managing director and one of the founders of Kate’s Place — the Salvation Army’s answer to much-needed stable, transitional housing for women trying to overcome addiction — 20 babies have been born so far to residents of the centre since it opened in 2012.

“The motivation is always to have a drug-free baby …,” Carlson says. “That’s what keeps them sober once the baby is born as well, seeing a healthy baby and making sure that they’re there for that baby.”

In other cases, parents confront addiction issues so they can get their apprehended children back.

Often, the mothers staying at Kate’s Place are successful. Carlson says 61 per cent of the moms who come through the centre and its programming have been able to regain either full-time or part-time custody of their children.

Additionally, Carlson says Kate’s Place moms are often drug- and alcohol-free within 30 days of moving in.

“They get clean very quick when there’s children involved, whereas a single person, it sometimes takes months for them to truly get clean and not relapse once in a while,” she says.

Carlson points out that getting clean can be very difficult, particularly when the addiction is to drugs like fentanyl and meth. Add in the reasons people become addicted in the first place, such as significant past or ongoing trauma, and it can be even harder to work through.

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Because of that, a 61-per-cent success rate is considered huge.

“They’re also learning how to be moms again,” she says. “So that’s a tough thing to accomplish given the level of addiction that these women have. (It’s) a lot of hard work.”

Kate’s Place works hand-in-hand with Regina’s Drug Treatment Court (DTC), which provides participants with a chance at a significantly reduced sentence upon graduating. Like Kate’s Place, DTC has compiled a variety of success stories of people — many of them parents — who managed to get healthy and stay that way.

Three parents, each a current or former participant with DTC, shared their stories of addiction and recovery and talked about how their children have provided a strong incentive to get clean and stay that way.

Logan Badley and her child, Havyn Badley, sit together in the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021.
Logan Badley and her child, Havyn Badley, sit together in the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Logan Badley started using alcohol and drugs as a teenager for the same reason so many start: Her friends were doing it. Eventually, addiction took hold and she found herself turning to harder drugs like cocaine and meth.

Addiction ultimately led to drug charges and the possibility of her first jail sentence. She was given a way out through DTC, but it was finding out she was pregnant that really turned things around.

Badley remembers the exact date: March 8, 2020 — the day she learned of her pregnancy was also the day she quit using drugs.

“I felt really, really guilty because I had been pregnant and using and not knowing it,” she says. “I didn’t want (her) to have a parent that was using. I wanted to get clean for (her). I wanted (her) to have a good life.”

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Havyn came into the world while Badley was still attending DTC. She was born clean and healthy.

Badley admits it wasn’t easy. DTC and confronting addiction are massive challenges even when not pregnant.

“But once I actually gave birth to my daughter, that’s when things started to get better for me,” she says. “I was very happy.”

Without DTC and the incentive her daughter provides daily, Badley believes she’d be in jail.

“She’s my biggest motivation,” Badley says. “If I didn’t have my child, I think it would be a lot harder for me to stay clean … I know you’re supposed to do this for yourself, but a lot of it is for my daughter …

“She’s made me a better person, gave me a purpose to life, which is something that I didn’t have before.”

Jean Rice holds her child, Victoria Watkin, at the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021.
Jean Rice holds her child, Victoria Watkin, at the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Like Badley, Jean Rice’s drug use started as a teenager with party drugs and gradually morphed into something far worse — including an addiction to meth.

“I just couldn’t be without it,” she says.

Fortunately, like Badley, Rice found salvation in her new baby.

Rice was already at a low point by the time she got pregnant. Her older child, a boy, had been apprehended from Rice — her partner, also a drug user, was suffering from a life-threatening illness — and she’d been criminally charged with drug-related offences.

She started DTC in May 2018. Her daughter, Victoria, was born the following year while she was still in the program. Victoria was, in fact, born a year to the day after Rice stopped using.

Right from the moment she learned of her pregnancy, Rice says her daughter became her major reason for staying clean.

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“Since I found out that I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to have a clean baby …,” she says. “I’ve seen the trauma that my son has faced just going through the system … I would never want to have him have to face any of that again, and I wouldn’t want her to have to feel the same way that he has felt.”

Rice now shares custody of her son with his father.

Tyler Seminuk and his child, Mary-Jo Seminuk, sit together at the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021.
Tyler Seminuk and his child, Mary-Jo Seminuk, sit together at the Drug Treatment Court building in Regina on Aug. 25, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

It’s not only moms who find the strength to battle addiction through their children. Dads, too, can find the biggest reason to quit drugs in their kids.

Tyler Seminuk was once a promising hockey player, actively involved in sports his whole life. A car crash didn’t just end his hockey career, it led to his addiction, beginning with drugs he was prescribed to help with the pain.

“It just progressed from there,” he says.

Unable to work, Seminuk started going to the bar instead. And he began using other drugs.

Criminal charges soon followed, and Seminuk found himself spiralling further, both in terms of substance abuse and in the company he was keeping.

“I was heavily into the lifestyle, involved in all the drugs, the criminal aspect of it,” he says.

He tried DTC twice but failed both times.

Seminuk was ultimately picked up on a warrant. By then, he’d learned his partner was pregnant.

Seminuk already had three daughters, 17 and older, raised in a stable home by their mom. The chance to do things right for his then-unborn child guided him back to DTC.

This time, the situation was different.

“I knew I wanted to get sober and so did (my baby’s mother) …,” he says. “In the first two weeks I was out (of custody), the mother of my daughter and I made a plan to go to detox and get clean together.”

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After Mary-Jo was born, she initially went to stay with her grandma. Since then, Seminuk — currently working his way through DTC — has been able to gain custody.

He credits the staff at DTC but is also thankful for his daughter in helping him reach this point in his life. He has overdosed and nearly died more than once. He knows his future, without the changes he’s made, would be bleak.

“With Mary-Jo, she’s literally changed my life …,” he says. “She saved my life and I know she’s changed her mother’s life too.”

hpolischuk@postmedia.com

twitter.com/LPHeatherP

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