Giving someone from Glace Bay a new chance at life

Glace Bay harbour

In the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, it says that “the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.” It’s a powerful affirmation of the feeling of community, the relief from the chains of addiction, and enables those in recovery to stay clean by guiding and helping others. After completing treatment, and changing their lives dramatically, two young men from Glace Bay, Troy Currie & Jeremy Tanner, talked one night after work about how the chance to come out west for treatment at Together We Can saved their lives, and now they want to save the life of someone else back home by giving them the same opportunity.

By all accounts, Glace Bay in Nova Scotia seems like any other east coast Canadian town. A population of less than 20,000 people, it has been home to hard working coal miners and fisheries staff that fueled the Canadian Economy for hundreds of years. And yet, like many other small towns, all across Canada, it is being ravaged by addiction, drinking and the Opioid Epidemic.

Small town living isn’t easy for anyone, the disconnected rural life, where one economy controls almost everything that comes and goes, including the population. It builds a sense of community, where everyone knows everyone, yet no-one talks about the disproportionate number of people that addiction is affecting. 

The Marconi Transatlantic Radio Tower in Glace Bay, 1902

In December 1902, the first trans-atlantic radio signal was sent from Glace Bay, across the ocean to England, but now, almost 120 years later, there’s a different kind of call coming, a call offering support & help, and it’s coming from across Canada from two Together We Can alumni who are hoping someone will answer it.

Troy and Jeremy, two young friends called the town of Glace Bay home. They grew up facing harsh winters, the realities of living in a place where the only escape at the end of the day was drinking and drugs. Both men, friends since grade 11, walked a similar path, struggling to live and trying to face the Demons of addiction. 

These aren’t the first young men from Nova Scotia to come to Together We Can, one of Canada’s leading inpatient residential drug and alcohol treatment programs. In fact, Together We Can has seen a large number of Glace Bay residents come through it’s doors, and a few, have stayed on after completing treatment to work with us, including our Operations Manager, Daniel MacEachern.

Troy knew of Together We Can, because his brother-in-law is another TWC alumni, Keith McNeil, who is now our Operations Coordinator. Keith arrived from Glace Bay almost 3 years ago, and overcame his own lengthy struggle with addiction. Keith now oversees the flow of information between staff, volunteers, and our 300 residents, and his success is what drove Troy to fly over 6000km to Vancouver for help. 

For Jeremy, his path to Together We Can happened when Troy reached out to him, knowing Jeremy was struggling and was also desperate to seek help. Treatment options in Glace Bay were limited, a tiny facility named Talbot House, houses 15-18 clients at a time for up to a year. Like many rural regions across Canada and the United States, they aren’t equipped to handle the sheer volume of people seeking help to battle the disease of addiction. Because of a small number of beds, a remote location, and a long waitlist, people are often forced to wait for help as the severity of their addiction grows stronger. When an addict decides that they need help, that help needs to come now, not in a few months time. With Troy’s help, Jeremy made the same journey across Canada that his high school friend made. They arrived separately a few months ago at Together We Can, and became even stronger friends in our program, as they worked to save their own lives. 

In Troy’s own words, “TWC became a family that I never had, a family that showed me love compassion and hope as soon as I walked in the doors, since attending treatment I’m able to feel alive again, with the help of TWC I’m about to reconnect with my son after a year of being without him, there’s no lengths this family won’t go for you.”

Now, both young men are sober, living productive lives, and calling Vancouver home. Both recognize the need to get someone who needs help into treatment the moment that person asks for it. They came up with a plan, and that plan was to offer the same help they received at TWC to one of the many people in their hometown. Talking to each other between shifts, they decided that out of their own pockets, they could afford to pay for 30 days of treatment for someone who needed it, they made a post on their social media pages announcing their desire to help someone, and people took notice. Someone who wants to recover from addiction has another option, they just had to find a way out to Vancouver, and they can make a fresh start.

People have shared that message across Facebook, and word is slowly getting out. As the word of their offer of help spreads across Canada, so do offers of support, and more help. Now, a few days have passed since their offer, and people have stepped up to help pay for the flight from Glace Bay that will change a life. Together We Can’s Executive Director, Stacy Wilson, also took notice of these two young men, and using donations made to it’s All Together Fund, TWC has matched their offer. Now that person who is ready to make a change will come to Together We Can for 60 days of treatment, and support is still growing. 

Together We Can’s mission statement is ‘Rebuilding lives, healing families, and strengthening communities.’ Alumni Troy Currie and Jeremy Tanner are examples of this mission in action, and how like the Basic Text of NA says, “One addict helping another is without parallel.”

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For media inquiries, please contact:

David Penny, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Together We Can
[email protected]

David Penny

David Penny is Together We Can's Marketing and Media coordinator. Learn more about him & read his articles here.

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