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How I kicked my addiction: Toronto woman shares story of alcohol recovery

Sunday event geared toward sharing stories of addiction and recovery, to show it's possible to sober up

Annie McCullough is one of the Recovery Day organizers. It’s been eight years since she started the journey of recovery from alcohol addiction.

Eduardo Lima/ Metro

Annie McCullough is one of the Recovery Day organizers. It’s been eight years since she started the journey of recovery from alcohol addiction.

Annie McCullough doesn't look back at her teenage years — and much of her adult life for that matter — with pride.

At the tender age of 14, she picked up drinking habits that quickly escalated into addiction. That was three years after her father died of alcoholism.

“I had a very chaotic upbringing in an alcoholic home,” she said. “I was left to my own devices a lot of times and started into partying very early.”

Things got even worse when she moved to Vancouver in 1994 and worked as a DJ. She wasn't a daily hard drinker, but her nights and weekends were always filled with binge drinking and drug use.

Eventually, after 23 years of excessive drinking, she "hit rock bottom" about eight years ago. 

“I was very sick, I was very hung over all the time,” she said. “Then there was that moment of clarity when I looked myself in the mirror and realized that’s not who I am.

“I just knew in my gut that I was done drinking.”

McCullough is the former national marketing director for Edgewood Health Network, a project helping people find their way out of addiction. She’s also the co-founder of Faces and Voices of Recovery Canada.*

Over the past four years, McCullough has been helping organize Toronto Recovery Day, an initiative aimed at spreading hope about addiction recovery through sharing stories of people who’ve overcome the challenge.

“We want to show people that recovery is possible,” she said. “All you need is to raise your hand and say ‘I need help.’ There should be no shame in that.”

McCullough will be one of the people speaking at this year's Recovery Day, which takes place noon Sunday at Mel Lastman Square.

Dubbed Sober In The 6ix: The Stories Of Recovery, the event will include medical experts speaking about addiction. 

*Correction, Sept. 16 10:01 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Annie McCullough is the current marketing director for Edgewood Health Network. Metro regrets the error.

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