NEWS

Carole James says son's addiction nearly ended political career

08/24/2012 02:01 EDT | Updated 10/24/2012 05:12 EDT
Former B.C. NDP leader Carole James says she nearly quit politics many times because of her son's struggle with alcohol addiction.

James's son Evan struggled with alcoholism throughout her seven-year NDP leadership term, and even attempted suicide several times, including the day before she debated Gordon Campbell on live television in the 2009 election campaign.

She told CBC News that on several occasions she offered to quit politics if it would help her son quit drinking.

"Certainly Evan and I had that conversation many times about whether I should quit. I certainly offered up many times just because you want to do everything you possibly can," she said.

"It was a very, very difficult time," she said. "You feel guilty, you wonder whether your public position is making it more difficult for them to get help."

From the Downtown Eastside to recovery

Evan said he started drinking heavily in high school in Victoria, sometimes even feeling the need to drink before school started in the morning.

"I'd be partying on the weekends with friends and they'd be able to drink just as much as me, but come Monday morning they'd put it down, get up, go to work. Whereas Monday morning I'd be looking for more drinks to stop the shakes," said Evan.

After high school he moved to Vancouver and eventually ended up on the Downtown Eastside.

"It was horrible. It was hell. By the end I was drinking around the clock from when I first woke up. I would have to start drinking to steady my nerves and stop the shakes. I couldn't sleep unless I had alcohol... It dominated my life."

After years of struggle and suicide attempts, Evan eventually got help from a small recovery agency based in Victoria in 2010.

Carole and Evan said they decided to go public with their family's struggle in order to help others in similar situations.

"As Evan reminds people, this is a story that is common in many, many families. We are share our story in the hope that it will bring some comfort, some hope, to other families."

Carole James stepped down as the leader of the B.C. NDP in December of 2010, after leading the party for seven years.

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