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News Articles: HOME PROVIDES NEW START FOR ADDICTS
Personal Stories Treatment Centres Offer A Chance To Recover In Dignity

Kevin Craig sits in the living room of his new home at 512 Cecelia Rd., a room with fresh buttery yellow paint, newly restored woodwork and hardwood floors. He's far from one of the lowest points of his life just over a year ago, when his home was on the streets of Victoria, a prisoner of his alcohol addiction.

Craig, who once held a job in the furniture-making industry, looks at his work with pride. He refurbished the badly worn-out wainscotting while other recovering addicts took on the paint job and much-needed cleanup for the house, which for the next several months will provide what their counsellors call the "de-institutionalized setting" for their long road to recovery.

"Here the guys feel they are part of something. They feel part of a community, part of a brotherhood," said David Mitchell, facilitator and counsellor for the Vancouver Island Addiction Recovery Society.

The two-storey home is a new residential treatment centre for men, bought after a two-year search by the society in an attempt to ease the strain of a long list of addicts waiting for their turn to recover. It will add another 10 beds to the existing 18, which are located in two existing supportive recovery homes in Victoria.

The original home, called Foundation House, opened seven years ago, offering a 10-bed recovery facility -- also located on Cecelia Road - -- for men who have been on the streets, in prison, treatment facilities, emergency wards and mental institutions. The new centre will act as a second-stage house for men who are further along in their recovery and are given more freedom and responsibility, such as cooking and cleaning for themselves.

"They are completely responsible for their recovery here," said Ken Thomson, also a facilitator. No drugs or alcohol are permitted and employees check in at each house several times a day.

The home will be a bridge to the third stage of recovery, an eight-bed house where men live while working or going to school.

After reading a story in the Times Colonist about the society's desperate need for a third home, two private donors, who prefer to remain anonymous, pledged $150,000 each to buy the early 20th-century home.

Far from the "crack shacks and shooting galleries" that some detox facilities resemble, the home is fit for a family, which instils the sense of pride lost during life on the street, said Mitchell, himself a recovered heroin addict.

Craig, 52, has been alcohol-free for a year and one month, his longest time clean since he started drinking when he was 16 years old. He eventually wants to go back to work, and said renovating the house reminded him that he hasn't lost his skill. "When people come in and say 'Boy, I sure like the house,' it gives you a sense of personal satisfaction."

Five men have been living here since April and five more will move in when the basement is furnished, work which will be done by the residents themselves. But there are still about 50 people on the waiting list, said Thomson.

Men can stay for as long as they want and pay $475 a month for room, food and counselling. Men living in the homes are recovering from a variety of addictions, from crystal meth, cocaine, heroin or alcohol.

The next step is to secure funding for an after-care program so counsellors can track the progress of former addicts. He said several men who have gone through the program are now thriving in successful positions in the community.

"When they leave here we hope they take enough pride in themselves to work to having a house like this," said Mitchell.

Anyone can donate to Foundation House by calling 250-480-1342.


 
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