Carli Rothman will present “Dirty Little Secret: Addiction in the Jewish Community” on Sunday March 5th at 4:00 p.m. at this year’s Limmud Winnipeg at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. (Appropriate for all ages.) Rothman says, “Growing up in Winnipeg’s Jewish community, addiction was not something we heard much about. But addiction does not discriminate based on neighbourhood, faith or family.”
Rothman is a certified mental health and addictions professional, journalist, yoga instructor and a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who will discuss the need for open dialogue about addiction in Jewish homes and schools.
Rothman grew up in a typical River Heights Jewish home with her two step brothers. She went to Jewish school, went to BB Camp, participated in BBYO, played baseball, took swimming lessons, etc. like many of her peers. But despite the similarities between her and her peers, she always felt really different.
Rothman had any early introduction to alcohol and drugs. She explains, “At around 12 or 13 I was introduced to liquor. It started at bar and bat mitzvah parties, where I'd run around drinking everyone's unfinished cocktails, and graduated to helping myself to the contents of the liquor cabinets at my friends' houses. I smoked weed quite a bit, too. There was something very freeing about being drunk or high. I felt I could say or do anything in front of anyone, without any fear of being judged.”
“At the Collegiate at U of W for Grade 10, the partying continued, I tried ecstasy, prescription pain killers, and benzodiazepines. I tried cocaine for my first time at 16 and knew immediately that this was something I needed more of in my life.”
“I was a functional user all throughout university, until suddenly I wasn't. And then I was in hell. Looking back on things now, I can see that my patterns of using were always different than my friends. I drank the most, smoked the most, tried things first, and liked that about myself. This was a blessing for me, actually, to have something about myself that I liked, because deep down, I had never liked myself.”
Her substance abuse went from bad to worse throughout her twenties until she nearly took her own life in a substance-induced psychosis. After many failed attempts at getting clean, she went to her third treatment program in BC where she stayed for 6 months and finally became clean and sober in December 2014. Now, she has refocused her life to educate others about addictions and mental health.
Rothman says, “I currently work in harm reduction, employed as a substance use counsellor for street-level IV drug users, many of whom are homeless, prostituting, and involved in crime. My office is located at a methadone clinic in downtown Nanaimo, which currently has the highest reported overdose rates per capita in Canada.”