© THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong
Allan Livingston holds a photo of his daughter Jodi who is seeking support to attend the North American bodybuilding championships in Pittsburgh at the end of August. Livingston says his children have been able to excel because he turned his back on addictions and encouraged his kids to do the same.
Allan Livingston has been successfully battling addiction for years and seeing how that has helped his children, he worries for others on the same journey.
He wants Island youth to get direction, to have hope and have support.
“Direction means a lot in today’s society,” he said.
Livingston said the departure of his first wife soon after the birth of their first child some 30 years ago turned his life around, starting him on a long and difficult battle to maintain sobriety.
“I have over 20 years in now,” he said during an interview with The Guardian.
That battle allowed him to raise two daughters by his second wife after she also left Livingston.
Now the Livingston family, formerly of Cornwall, is reaping the rewards of that addiction battle, he says.
“All that I am saying is that if you give a child an opportunity, and tell them the right and wrong and show them the options, they can do anything.”
His daughter Jodi went to university in Halifax where she took up bodybuilding three years ago after retiring from competitive gymnastics on P.E.I. She won bronze in her class in the fitness division at this year’s bodybuilding nationals in Edmonton, qualifying her for the North American championships in Pittsburgh at the end of August.
Jodi, 22, is studying a university program in rehabilitation for children while also running a bodybuilding team.
His youngest daughter is heading to university in Edmonton.
Livingston’s first daughter Coralee is a teaching assistant.
“She was only in my life for six months because that was when I was in my addiction pretty heavy,” said Livingston. “When her mom left I got sober. She actually did me a favour. I was out of my mind and unemployable. No direction.”
There was addiction in his family causing him to grow up in dysfunction, said Livingston, and he just carried that on.
Suddenly he was faced with a demand to care for two of his daughters alone and he had some hard choices.
He showed them Sleepy Hollow jail and said they could choose living with him and his rules or end up there.
“I had to buy things I didn’t want to, like a washer and dryer, and a car,” said Livingston.
He worked alone in the building trades and attended AA, imparting wisdom from the meetings back to his girls. He sees younger and younger people attending AA.
“There is so much addiction today in youth that it’s an epidemic, is really what it is,” said Livingston.
Everyone, especially parents are focused on worldly gratification and often ignore the needs of their children, said Livingston.
He wants government to ensure youth and parents get effective help trying to get addictions under control.
“Only an alcoholic can help an alcoholic,” says Livingston. “Anything addictions, it takes those kinds of people to understand what you are going through. I think there should be centres where you can go, that parents can bring kids to talk to someone who has been there,” said Livingston.
The current treatment of a few days to a week, than back out isn’t working, he said.
“When I take a look at my kids, and see what they accomplished, I think there should be more done for families with addicted kids, a place where parents can go and everybody meet and talk to the people that are there.”
Livingston said he wants his daughters to be an inspiration to the youth.
“You only have one chance at this, maybe. If you get directed the right way, kids can become anything.”