Lila Corcoran has been sober for more than 20 years.
The Watson Lake resident went through the Yukon’s live-in treatment program in August of 1989, back when the program was called Crossroads.
“The treatment centre doesn’t cure you, it more or less gives you the tools to work with,” she said.
“They taught me that there is help available if I wanted to continue with sobriety.”
A number of tragedies in Corcoran’s life led to her trouble with alcohol.
“When my late husband committed suicide, I went off the deep end,” she said.
“For 17 months I just drank and worked and drank and worked.”
One morning she decided that enough was enough and sought help.
Luckily, Corcoran was able to get into the month-long treatment program quickly.
“If they didn’t say come in right away, I would never have made it.”
For Corcoran, one of the most difficult moments in the program was when it came to an end.
“That was scary,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave.
“You’re not going to leave there and have everything be hunky dory. You’re going to have to work if this is what you want. But I had a lot of support from my family too.”
Aftercare is the most important thing, said Corcoran.
A recovering alcoholic needs to be set up with an Alcoholics Anonymous program and a treatment counsellor.
Twenty years ago, a two-week refresher program was available to those who felt they were going to relapse.
Corcoran used this refresher program twice.
Unfortunately, these types of programs no longer exist in the territory.
“I learned in the treatment centre that I had to change friends,” she said.
“Another thing they taught me is that you have so much time on your hands. How are you going to fill that?”
Corcoran filled her time by going back to school to become an educational assistant.
She also began doing a lot of volunteer work, returning to the treatment centre as a guest speaker and holding Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Watson Lake.
She left her number with the Whitehorse-based program, saying she was available to help anyone who would be returning to Watson Lake after going through treatment.
One woman who contacted her in this way ended up becoming a very dear friend, she said.
“I always tell people I owe a lot to Crossroads.
“But the government can only do so much. They gave us the tools to work with and from there it’s entirely up to you.”