Welcome to Ask an Addict, a column penned by a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict.
The column is meant to inform and help, which is particularly important as we remain mired in an opioid crisis that continues to claim thousands of lives each year. If you have a question you would like answered, email it to editor@ kamloopsthisweek.com. Anonymity is guaranteed.
We recently received a touching, insightful letter with a useful suggestion — of trying to expand this column to other publications — that is being examined.
The person who wrote the letter reads this column, so I want to reach out personally to him. I want to thank him for outlining his thoughts.
As an addict, I know our ideas and our thoughts are often not heard.
Based on your letter, I made a brief assessment about you (as a past academic, I was required to evaluate written work). You are articulate with insight and you know what to do. You care about others and want to give back. Your creative suggestion reveals this to me. You say you are going to Baldy Hughes, which I think is an excellent idea.
For our other readers, Baldy Hughes is an incredible, one-year, 65-bed in-patient, 12-step addiction program for men. It provides intensive counselling, health, fitness, animal and horticultural farming, vocational training and leadership activities.
It is located on a former military base about 30 kilometres southwest of Prince George. In 2015, Baldy Hughes received $1 million in provincial funding to add 20 beds. The facility hired three full-time registered nurses and an occupational therapist. It is a vital life-saving program that offers hope to men who once suffered and led meaningless lives.
I want to let this fellow know he is on the right path. I support you in making this great change in your life. You have chosen wisely.
Many rehabs are costly and too short in their nature.
Addiction is not “cured” in a mere 28 days. It takes years for addiction to grab hold and, sadly, one or two months cannot quell this nasty beast. Most programs cost more than $10,000 per month, which irritates me. Granted, funds are needed to run specialized centres, but greed can play a part. I commend the government for helping Baldy Hughes as long -term approaches are needed for this complex, life-long problem.
This is one reason I believe the 12 steps are vital.
When I left my first rehab, (out of three), I had nothing to go home to. During my five-hour flight home, and felt shaky, insecure and incredibly scared. This was a shock to me. After all, I thought I was “cured.”
I knew at any moment I might crash and pick up that drink.
Rehab gave me the rooms of AA. When I arrived in Vancouver and no one was there, I found a meeting, went in and sat down. I heard the familiar preamble and warmth and comfort, just like a big drink, settled into my soul.
For one hour, I knew I was safe. AA is a lifeline. When there is nothing — no money, no family or friends — there are the rooms of AA. Today, anywhere I go in the world — France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Africa — I find meetings.
I am no longer alone. We addicts are lucky that we have a secret society. When I walk down the street and see a familiar face from the rooms (a millionaire, a street person or a nurse), our eyes lock as we smile. Our heads silently nod while nothing is said.
We know how lucky we are.
Oh yes, before I forget, that lovely fellow who wrote me the letter, the articulate, insightful one who wants to give back? Did you judge him to be an inmate at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre?