Only three percent of persons with addiction show up on skid row. The others walk among us. Addiction is often seen as a problem to be tabled, something to be put away, a behaviour to change, or even as rebellious disobedience with a touch of social disregard thrown in for good measure. My son is an avid cyclist, my friends ride bikes. Both will tell you that when the wheels of a bike get into a rut on a mud road and you struggle for control, balancing the bike is almost impossible, and falling becomes the norm. However, if the rider sees the rutted road as a path leading to the right destination, looks ahead, and sets his mind on the way, the rut becomes a groove and a steady sense of direction and a pathway to destination can be found. It’s time to get out of our rut of thinking about addictions, and begin to see the groove of recovery. The results are life-changing and treatment isn’t reduced to a housing issue.
The earliest signs of addiction can be mood swings; those subtle changes in behaviour that seem irrational, from short and snappy to pout and sputter. They are gradual and often missed by the closer observers. They are also easily discounted as, “she was having a bad day.” The next sign is usually financial unmanageability often presenting as a request for cash advances, cheques cashed at yellow banks, requests for overtime, repossessed vehicles, and uninsured vehicles.
Addiction by prescription looks like the proverbial medicine cabinet comes to the office. People are taking an upper to get started, a downer to manage a mood, a psychedelic at the bar and seeing three different doctors for the same medication with different symptoms presented in each case. Prescription addiction is difficult in that normal conditions have been amplified by drug-seeking behaviour and the constant seeking for designer and psychotropic drugs.
We need to open the doors to helping people who suffer. In the last 30 years, New Westminster has become a national destination for recovery services, with two internationally-renowned treatment centres, some of the largest 12-step fellowship meetings (such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous) in North America, and a disproportionately large number of young people living clean and sober in New West. Those are each solid foundations for life in recovery.
Sometimes, recovery starts with a coffee and a conversation. The coffeeshops at Sixth and Sixth in Uptown New West have become a stage for people in recovery to meet, mingle and talk recovery before a 12-step meeting. When you chat with someone over coffee and talk about what’s really going on… talk about and with others who have found the solution… This location makes it the ideal stage for the 5th Annual Recovery Day BC. The Festival moved to Uptown New Westminster this past September 10th, featuring Health and Wellness Booths, a Main Stage with headliner Bif Naked, a Kids’ Zone, and a Memorial Tent for those lost.
One of the most practical things about recovery in New Westminster is that people recover in community, with peers. Recovery in an urban setting allows for client health and recovery development in a supportive community because, very simply, that is their reality when they return home. People are afforded every communal opportunity to develop skills in recovery that promote participation, encourage active social and recreational life, and interact with their family, colleagues, and friends in a normalized way as their recovery progresses.
Addiction Support and Recovery Programs in New Westminster include: Last Door, Westminster House, Fraserside, Fraser Works, Lookout Shelter, Purpose, Sigma, Last Door Youth Program, as well as over one hundred 12-step meetings every week.
The mathematics of recovery is that any addict seeking recovery can stop using and find an abstinent way to live and that way saves money in the medical, criminal justice, and social care. The creation of the Recovery Capital in New Westminster has created supportive, crime-free housing, supportive 12-step fellowships, medical and mental health supports, and treatment centres all delivering an integrated, seamless approach to recovery that is enduring for persons seeking recovery, endearing for their families and hopeful for communities.