When an Okotoks couple found out their youngest daughter was hooked on crystal meth their world fell apart.
She was in her early 20s, working, living on her own and going to school part-time when a friend suggested she try something to keep her awake. She had no idea what she was taking was the highly addictive and highly toxic drug crystal meth.
It took more than a year of being hooked on the drug before her family found out what seemed like only an exaggeration in the woman's usual bubbly personality, was actually a potentially lethal addiction. It took her committing a crime before the truth was found out. After stealing from her employer to feed the addiction, the girl was arrested by RCMP and facing a lengthy court ordeal, she finally turned to her parents.
"We closed the door and we closed the blinds because we had to deal with it inwardly because our hearts were so hurt," the woman's father said. "Panic, fear, anger, helplessness - all the emotions began to surface. It was a major tailspin."
Watching their daughter walk back out the door and into a world of uncertainty was crushing, he added.
"We didn't know if she was going to be alive or dead," he said. "She fell below 100 pounds. We had to resolve in our hearts that we could get a phone call telling us our daughter is dead and try to be strong enough to deal with that."
Prayer and time gave the couple the strength they needed to move on from their grief and turn their attention to their ailing daughter.
As they began to look for help, they soon realized that the only one who could help them was the same girl struggling with a serious drug addiction.
"We tried - we even looked at the possibility of getting her put away somewhere and realized there was no way," he said. "They have to get to the point of wanting to help themselves."
It was when they realized that they could not force their daughter into rehab that they changed their tactic.
"You have to be able to love from a distance," he said. "A lot of these kids and young adults need unconditional love and sometimes it is hard to give. We would just go and visit her and buy her groceries and take her out for dinner and stay the weekend with her."
The loving attention finally got through. Even drug addicted friends were questioning why she was using drugs when her family cared for her so much.
After another year of using Crystal Meth she moved home and sought help from psychiatrists who specialize in drug addictions and is even looking into ways of sharing her experiences with others in an effort to stop others from making the same mistakes.
With a clean and sober daughter back at his side, the girl's father said he thanks God that his family made it through one of the darkest periods of their lives.