WE DO RECOVER: Drug addicted Kamloops mom gets her life back | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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WE DO RECOVER: Drug addicted Kamloops mom gets her life back

Jaimie Lynn Burt (left) holds a poster for the Out of the Ashes bursary in Kamloops with her former counsellor Leann Kopytko

Jaimie-Lynn Burt is a cheerful, vibrant woman in her 20s who is raising three small children and looking forward to continuing her university studies in the future.

There was a long period of time in her young life where happiness and success seemed impossible.

Burt fell into a devastating cycle of drug addiction that began when she was young following the separation of her parents, and it took years of hard work and help from the community to recover.

“I had a pretty good, structured life until my parents split up, I feel like I already had morals instilled in me at a young age.” she said. “My mom was an alcoholic and I saw how she was coping so I started drinking when I was 11.”

When Burt was 12 years of age she started using cannabis and by the time she was 15 she was using cocaine and other harder drugs.

A year later, Burt got pregnant. She was able to stop the drug use temporarily, but it didn’t last.

“I wanted to be a good mom so I stopped using and didn’t drink or take anything during my pregnancy,” she said. “When he was six months old I started going out on the weekends and I still had a lot of my old friends. I kind of slowly fell back into the drugs, partying too hard on the weekends.”

Then Burt lost her job after failing a drug test and she fell apart emotionally and mentally. She started using more drugs to cope and got addicted to opiates.

“I kind of just lost everything,” she said. “I lost my baby, I overdosed many times and ended up in a coma.”

This was rock bottom for Burt, and she’d had enough. She decided to detox at the Phoenix Recovery Centre — now called Day One Society — and although it took her several attempts, she didn’t give up and eventually got through it.

It was there she began working with youth councillor and program supervisor Leann Kopytko, who encouraged Burt to apply for the Out of the Ashes bursary, a program that supports young people struggling with substance use and helps them achieve academic and vocational goals.

Applicants have to have a minimum of one year of sobriety, write a testimonial and enrol in school program.

Burt said she was terrified when she applied for the bursary.

“I never completed high school so I was really nervous, I didn’t think I could go to school,” she said. “I was intimidated, you have to be a year clean and thinking about staying clean for a year was terrifying, but I wanted to give my child a better life.”

Burt’s application for the program was accepted and she started working on a Bachelor of Arts degree after successfully completing an entry exam and a few basic courses.

In the meantime, Burt continued her counselling.

“The program gave me something to work towards, it was a lot of hard work, struggle and perseverance, you have to put in the effort to show you’re committed to your journey.”

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Burt’s is just one of the success stories Kopytko has witnessed since the bursary program started in 2007.

“Every single person that has gone through it has done something with it,” she said. “To these young people when you tell them they’ve won a $2,000 or $2,500 bursary, for them that can be life changing and help them make those initial first steps they need to make. It can give them that support around the books or computer, sometimes it’s for daycare.”

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Burt and Kopytko both said the bursary is more than money, it provides people in recovery with hope and confidence.

Burt completed her second year of her degree before getting pregnant and later giving birth to twins. She's currently taking online courses to be a support worker helping children and adults in sex trafficking, and will be working on completing the arts degree in the near future.

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She wants to pay it forward and use her hard-earned lived experience to help others.

Day One Society is accepting applications for the Out of the Ashes bursaries until June 30.

Sponsors and donations for the program are needed, with all proceeds going directly to the bursaries.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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