I have come through treatment multiple times generally succeeding while immersed in the bubble of first stage treatment. I falter in the transition from First Stage Treatment to Second Stage Living. It is a precarious situation fraught with a variety of challenges. Challenges that have, in the past, taken me out of recovery. I always left first stage treatment feeling anxious, wanting to catch up for lost time but my feverous need to fill my days was overwhelming and I crumbled every time. I lacked the skills they teach us in treatment and as a result I fall victim to my illness over and over again.
I returned to begin the cycle of detox and treatment over again, only this time I was lost, confused, and broken to a far greater extent. I came back through TWC not knowing what would come of this next attempt and skeptical that I may end up relapsing. I made an effort to plan out my transition from first stage to second stage Instead of jumping into full-time employment. I’ve chosen to split my time between working and volunteering at TWC in the Volunteer Aftercare Program. It has helped me stay connected and involved at the center. I feel like I am contributing to other people`s recovery in a positive way and giving back to the place that changed my life. With an illness that`s primary intention is to isolate and kill those who suffer it, it is paramount that I am constantly surrounded by healthy, like-minded individuals. The Volunteer Aftercare Program combined with Second Stage has allowed me that opportunity.
I have no illusions around the fact that I am still vulnerable in my early recovery and that is why I chose Second Stage supported living following treatment. I have become more adept at identifying ego-driven behaviours but I can easily lose that awareness and in my second stage house I live with other men willing to call me out on the behaviours I may not see.
“I would advise anyone who is on a similar path to take their transition out of treatment back into the real world very seriously. A solid Non-negotiable Aftercare Plan is definitely essential for all who are transitioning from first stage treatment to second stage living.”
Music has the ability to uplift, invigorate, and touch us on a level that cannot easily be reached through standard, conventional therapy. At TWC we recognize that music brings people together to share in an experience of connectedness and appreciation. Matt Rands, a group facilitator at Together We Can and former guitar instructor, has introduced a Music Therapy Program that has been hugely successful for TWC’s current clients and alumni. No experience is necessary, anyone who wishes to participate is welcome to come down and sit in. Music Therapy currently takes place every Sunday at 12 pm.
“Music Therapy is an excellent opportunity for guys to tell their story and relate it through music.”
Are you a musician with a desire to compose and “jam” with other like-minded people? TWC also has a Music Composition Program for those interested in getting involved in our monthly live music event which we currently call The Rush, a hugely successful open mic event held at the Vancouver Recovery Club. Poets, singer/songwriters, and bands converge in an epic display that leaves the audience laughing, crying, and simply blown away. The next Rush will be taking place this Friday, April 24, at the Vancouver Recovery Club. Tickets are $5 at the door and the event begins at 9 pm. If you’re interested in being entertained and moved while experiencing a strong sense of camaraderie, then join us this Friday at the VRC!
“I didn’t know what to expect at first but I was happily surprised by the amount of amazing talent.”
Steve W, first stage client at TWC.
Weekend Warriors is a recovery league and Together We Can sent over 20 gentlemen to attend their Icebreaker Slow Pitch Tournament at Bolivar Park in surrey last weekend. This was a life changing event for many involved. With sunshine from Friday through Sunday we could not have asked for a better weekend to play ball.
I had the pleasure of helping put together the TWC Pelicans with counsellor Matt Rands and support worker Scott Reeves. For myself, one of the biggest tasks in recovery was to learn how to have fun without the need to drink or do drugs so i jumped at the opportunity to help. When the men here at Together We Can were told about the tournament they jumped at the opportunity as well!
The team was made up of all skill levels including some ladies that were more than willing to play with the TWC Pelicans. In my opinion Together We Can defines unity and to see the men pulled together as a team and play their hearts out was an amazing sight!
Saturday was a bit of a struggle for the boys as they lost their first two games and tied their third. However, going into Sunday’s playoffs they had high hopes and were not about to give up. Much like these men are ready to battle for their lives, they were ready to battle back on Sunday. They lost their first game Sunday morning to the Bomb Squad however, they won their next 3 games over the course of the day, beating the Bomb Squad in a re-match and advancing to the championship game. Beaten, bruised and bleeding they put on a great show playing with honor and integrity right till the bitter end. They didn’t win the championship but they sure played like champions!
The opportunity to be part of an amazing weekend meant a lot to the guys and to me as well. It is a huge deal to be able to enjoy ourselves without the need of substances and to learn how to be “part of”. Even though I played with another team it was an honor to watch the TWC Pelicans play like they did, I was rooting for them the whole weekend. On behalf of all the guys, we would like to thank the women who played for us and to the Weekend Warriors for allowing the TWC Pelicans to be part of a very special weekend.
By Peter Bachetti
Check out our Spring edition of Recover – Together We Can’s community newsletter.
By Robbie Edgar
I grew up in Coquitlam. My father was a carpenter and my mother worked at the bank. I got good grades and I played soccer because that was what society seemed to expect of me. I admired my dad for getting home from a hard day of work and having a few beers. I thought it was cool to drink. Somehow I never connected drinking to the DUIs, or the family arguments or the hangovers. The first time I drank was with my grandma, she would always let me have some of her vodka tonics. I remember how cool I felt having drinks with my grandma. I became accustomed to drinking with her at an early age as long as I promised I wouldn’t tell my dad about it.
I forget how old I was, but I had these crazy stomach pains and my dad told me to go see the doctor. At first, they gave me a non-narcotic medication that did nothing for the pain. Later, I was hospitalized with appendicitis and it was then that I was introduced to opiates. The rush was unlike anything I had felt before, way better than grandma’s vodka tonic. I didn’t become a heroin addict right after that but I always remembered how good it felt to be on morphine.
As I got older things began to progress; I remember those sips of vodka tonic turning into beers with the soccer team and getting drunk on weekends. In the 12 step program they talk about the unmanageability in the first step but at that time I thought things were still manageable. I didn’t consider the times I came home so drunk I could barely function. It was at this point I began to separate myself from the more forward-focused crowd because they didn’t drink on weekdays. The friends I began to associate with were those who weren’t as driven to do well in school and wanted to drink during the weekdays like I did. I wanted to have people in my life that would co-sign my drinking.
I went to Centennial high school in Coquitlam and my friend and I would pool our money and stand outside the John B. Pub in Coquitlam to get someone to boot for us because we were underage. My addiction progressed and I started using other drugs to keep me up from excessive drinking. One of my low points was when a new Eminem CD was released. My friend had just got his license and a new car and we wanted to cruise to that album but couldn’t afford the CD. I decided I would steal it from the Walmart and after grabbing it from the shelf I headed out the door where I was tackled to the ground by a security guard. My friend just took off running, those were the type of friends I had acquired. I injured my shoulder when the guard tackled me and to ease the pain I was given Tylenol 3 with codeine. The Tylenol gave me the same feeling I had in the hospital on morphine. I was left feeling ashamed and it was easier to escape my problems with opiates and alcohol than it was to face the feelings.
Entering grade 12 I was young and lost. My dad had labelled me a junkie and my mother was quite disappointed in me. I remember having decent grades but lacked motivation to continue and ultimately decided to stop attending class. I was using drugs but had a full time job, and was determined to show my family that I could successfully use drugs and maintain a good life. I was not going to be one of those kids who ended up in treatment. Unfortunately, things did not play out as I had planned.
The reason I got clean was not some magical moment. I never had that cloud-parting moment where suddenly I realized I needed to change my life. It wasn’t my mother’s tears or when my sister had to point me out on our high school camera for stealing MacBooks. I decided to get clean because I was dope-sick and didn’t want to feel that way again. I didn’t know how to move forward so in desperation I called my mother and asked for help. Her friend worked at a treatment center on the Bowen Island and I was admitted shortly after. The experience was great, I was so young in recovery and most of the other clients were older. I did make friends with one of the counsellors and he set me up at a place in New Westminster where i was able to meet people of the same age. The first centre on the island introduced me to the steps and the second centre showed me how to apply the steps in my life. It was an amazing experience to get that taste of recovery. Unfortunately it didn’t last; I stopped practicing recovery and was asked to leave the center. Instantly, I went back to being the Robbie who was going to show everyone that I could do it on my own.
I remember working on a construction site with an old friend from the centre in New Westminster and I remember he was drinking a beer. The way the sunlight hit the beer can captured me and I drank with him that day. From there things went downhill quickly. I felt ashamed because I had failed in my efforts to prove everyone else wrong. I had learned so much in recovery but i wanted to do it all on my own, it was a bad combination. My life became about work and drugs; I had nothing else going for me. One day I overdosed At Insite around 3:00pm and was woken up on a respirator around 10pm that day. You think someone would want to quit after an incident like that but I still had dope in my pocket so I used it.
I learned about Together We Can while at Cordova Detox. I spoke with Stacy Wilson who told me he would get me into treatment as long as I was willing to do what it takes. I was ecstatic to come out of detox. It was hard to believe I wound up on the downtown east side; I was still young in recovery but that pain motivated me to do what ever it took this time around. I did exactly what the staff at Together We Can told me to do and I so desperately wanted to get to the one year mark.
Following treatment I began volunteering in the upstairs office through the Volunteer Aftercare Program and it was the best decision I ever made. To see guys come in and beaten by addiction reminded me why I wanted to stay sober and it motivated me to help in any way I could. It gave me purpose. Service is one of the most important pieces of any individual’s recovery and it saves my life every day.
In my sobriety I have learned to treat myself to all the things I never could while in addiction. Since I have been clean and sober I’ve made a point of going to concerts with my friends at work and taking trips with my girlfriend. It is so rewarding when I look back at where I came from. My life today is something i could not have imagined a year ago. Today I reap the benefits of living clean and sober and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If there is something I can say to help other men find what I have found it would be:
“Follow the direction found in meetings, treatment and the literature and do your absolute best to implement it into your everyday life. Don’t worry about being perfect, it isn’t possible. Be the best you can be, strive to better yourself every day and always make sure to have fun and laugh a lot.”
Robbie has worked with TWC since 2014. Robbie is a mainstay of the office and his dynamic duties range from answering phones, to driving clients to and from detox facilities, and doing peer support around the facility. Robbie also manages one of our first stage treatment homes, helping the clients with step work, and teaching the skills needed to live a clean and sober life. Robbie can be seen in his spare time dirt-biking and being an active member of the Greater Vancouver Recovery Community.
Calling all Rockstarz – are you ready for the next Rush?
The upcoming Rush, hosted by Together We can Alumni, is nicknamed ‘Rockstarz’. It will feature some of the best talent you’ve seen yet at our Rush Events. Come down and see our gifted musicians take to the stage on Friday April 24, 2015 at the Vancouver Recovery Club. The show begins at 9:00pm and tickets are $5.00 at the door. Dont be late!
Are you a budding musician or performer just itching to try out a live audience? Give us a shout at www.therushmusic.org or come to our Music Therapy program here at TWC to get all the information you need to be a part of Rockstarz or other The Rush events.
At Together We Can we have an amazing community of alumni and supporters. It’s events and programs like these that fuel our passion here at TWC and keep us excited to see what might be around the corner. Thank you to all our supporters, alumni, clients and friends. You are all Rockstarz!
Easter weekend has come and gone and for myself, the holidays can be tough. I was born and raised in Toronto; it’s where my family resides. I came to BC roughly a year and a half ago to start a new life, a clean and sober life, and the hardest part was leaving my family back on the east coast.
The amazing thing about my time at TWC is that I have found a different kind of family. TWC offers an environment full of men fighting to better their lives and these men have welcomed me into their lives at the center and their family lives at home. I’ve found that in this wide circle of people I never have to feel alone again. I have gained so many great friends that I can proudly call family today. Friends that I never imagined I would have just over 5 months ago.
This Easter weekend I had a great time with some of my second family. We enjoyed the simple things in life like hiking the Grouse Grind. Not to mention the North Shore Round up where I danced for the first time in my sobriety! We receive so many gifts when we choose to get clean and sober and for me, my most treasured gift is the second family i have gained.
I wish you all another 24 and a big thank you to all the amazing people in my life that have helped make me an extremely happy and grateful man today!
This Easter weekend, Together We Can provided over 100 of its clients and alumni with tickets and transportation to and from the 44th Annual North Shore Roundup . Our goal was to show the new members of recovery how to get out, have fun and meet new people in a safe and sober environment.
The first North Shore round up was held in a small church in North Vancouver in 1972 with only 30 people in attendance. Since then, it has grown to sell over 2000 tickets a year and bring in people from all over. The round up unites the community of Alcoholics Anonymous and inspires growth on an individual level.
Events began Friday night with a countdown – a tally of the total combined days of sobriety of all the people in attendance. At the end of the tally, all attendees with one, two or three days clean were asked to step on stage and receive a new “Big Book” – the iconic 12-step manual of Alcoholics Anonymous. Two of our newest clients from Together We Can were among those lucky people and, along with their new book, they received a standing ovation from over 2600 people. What an absolutely amazing way to be introduced to the rooms of alcoholics anonymous. On Saturday, the grand total of the countdown was revealed with an amazing 9500 years of clean time.
This year at the round up the key-note speakers came from all over North America to impart their wisdom on the importance of step work. They reminded me that substance abuse is merely a symptom of a much more complex disease. The real problem lies in the negative core beliefs we develop through life and step work is the answer to these beliefs. It frees us from our past and provides us a new way to live. In this we gain a sense of relief, more confidence and motivation to help others find the same freedom.
The weekend was an absolute blast! From the al-anon meetings to the key-note speakers to the dances on Friday and Saturday night. I could not have asked for more from the North Shore Round Up and I look forward to next year.
See additional links below:
On March 27th The Together We Can Alumni Society in partnership with Vancouver Recovery Club hosted the tenth Rush event. Every month The Rush brings out some of the most incredible talent Vancouver has to offer. These musicians are artists in recovery and The Rush is a clean and sober stage for them to play on.
The Rush has grown substantially with the help of talented musicians from both the Together We Can Music Therapy Program and the recovery community throughout the greater Vancouver area. From it’s humble beginnings almost one year ago The Rush is now host to well over one hundred audience members every month!
Behind the scenes are a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time freely to make this event the huge success that is has become. Sound engineers, stage crew, hosts, performance coordinators, and various members of recovery are the amazing team that make this event possible. Performers for the Rush come prepared for this live show, with beautiful cover songs and original work. At 7pm a soundcheck commences where The Vancouver Recovery Club comes alive in a cacophony of symphonic sound. One by one artists are run through a quick soundcheck where they work out their pre-performance nerves, and the sound engineers work out all the bugs from feedback to stage malfunctions.
When 9pm rolls around the lights go out and our talented host Bazil walks on the stage and announces that show is about to begin. The theme for March was appropriately titled The Journey Continues as each performer throughout the night took our audience on a journey with their music and personal stories of recovery.
We look forward to seeing you at our next The Rush set for April 24th. Please visit our facebook page or website for details.