Don (not his real name) started using drugs and alcohol when he was 12 years old.
“After eight years of using I hit bottom,” he said. “I always felt lonely and shameful about the stuff I did,” he said.
Don’s entire family struggled with addictions and he was always in trouble with the police while under the influence. He heard about the Second Chance Recovery House for men in Campbell River and decided to do its 28-day Supportive Recovery program. Unfortunately, he relapsed after just one week of completing the program. A friend of Don’s who had also gone through Second Chance kept tabs on him constantly.
“He was making sure I wasn’t going to enjoy my relapse,” said Don.
When he discovered Don had started using again he phoned Second Chance for help. Staff told him the process was to go to see a Crisis Nurse at the Campbell River Hospital and they would admit him to a Crisis Stabilization Bed (CSB). Such beds are most often used for non – medical detox and clients remain under the care of the Crisis Nurses while in that bed.
The Crisis Nurses are available seven days a week, 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Don’s relapse lasted only 24 hours because of his friend’s help and his awareness of Second Chance.
“The Crisis Nurse was able to get me in right away and she was very helpful,” Don added. “I felt tremendously depressed. The rate I was going, death was where it was going to take me.”
He spent nine days in a CSB and then transitioned into the 28-day Supportive Recovery program.
“A lot of people think people in detox just sleep for a week,” said Don.
“They are quite sick, but they have a lot of work to do while they are here in detox,” said Executive Director Tessera Brooks.
Second Chance staff help detox clients connect to other community organizations, such as Mental Health and Addictions Services, Public Health, Ministry of Social Development, Aids Vancouver Island, North Island Liver Services, Advocacy Service and the Salvation Army shelter/housing.
During his detox period, Don started seeing a counsellor at Mental Health and Addictions Services, went to his first NA meeting and was introduced to the person who became his sponsor. He also saw a physician who diagnosed him with anxiety and depression. Now instead of self medicating, he is taking proper medication and is monitored on a regular basis. Don also sees a counsellor at the North Island Survivors Healing Society.
He continues to meet with his sponsor to work on his step work and attends three NA meetings each week. He also attends the daily support groups three to four times a week at Second Chance.
“I like to share my experiences, strength and hope,” Don said.
Before clients leave Second Chance, staff try to ensure they have a safe place to live.
Brooks said the social safety net does not provide adequate funds for housing and food.
“A lot of the men entering a crisis bed will often have very little or no belongings,” noted Brooks. “Some have been living on the streets or couch surfing and have lost their belongings or had them stolen”.
As this is “Homelessness Action Week” in Campbell River she added the public can help by donating new or gently used twin bed-size bedding, and men’s winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves and shoes.
Through donations Second Chance is able to supply clients with toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, razors, shaving cream, new underwear and socks, shampoo and soap. Call Second Chance at 250-830-1103 to arrange for drop off or pick up.