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'You are not alone': Audience wipes away tears during recovery stories

In 2019, Michelle Boissonneault was struggling to survive addiction in downtown London, Ont.

“I was sleeping at the corner of Dundas and Wellington. I was sleeping in my own filth. I had not showered in days. I literally did not care about my life anymore,” she recalled.

It was a rock bottom moment for Michelle, which led to her recovery.

Michelle shared her story with over 600 people at the 15th annual Addiction Recovery Breakfast on Friday.

The crowd, a mix of those recovering along with their families and supporters, listened intently, while others wiped away tears.

Michelle thanked them all for attending, and acknowledged how far she had come from a time when she only cared about her drug of choice.

Michelle Boissonneault at the 15th annual Addiction Recovery Breakfast in London, Ont. on Sept. 22, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London) “I would have done absolutely anything to stay high. I would lie or cheat anyone, including my family and those who loved me dearly,” she said.

Michelle was in and out of recovery 27 times before staying clean for months in 2020.

During that time, she started working and volunteering to help others with addictions through 519 Pursuit.

But her demons returned, and it would take seven months before she found her way back.

Since April 25, 2022, Michelle has been clean, and she has also returned to work part-time.

“Today, my life has balance, and no matter what, recovery must come first and remain first,” she shared.

It is a message Linda Sibley knows well. After a four-decade career in addiction care, she is retiring from the London chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

But Sibley, honoured with a lifetime achievement award, turned the focus back to those who battle addiction.

“To hear you tell you stories and to speak about the beauty of your life is stigma crushing,” she said.

The stories have also helped get the attention of community leaders — at all levels — in recent years. Addictions, mental health, and homelessness are now a top political priority.

But sadly, far too many are still on the streets, leaving Michelle to give this impassioned plea.

“You are not alone. Please reach out and do not suffer in silence. There are so many people who love you and care for you and want you to do great,” she said. Top Stories

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