Back from the brink of hell

Former addict credits RVH’s program for giving him a second chance at life.

Billy has been to hell and back. For five days every bone in his body ached, his mind raced, and his stomach churned, as he lay in a sweat-soaked bed ridding himself of the drugs that had held him captive for years.

“Withdrawal is hell,” says Billy, 33, (whose last name has been withheld for privacy). “It’s like having a bad flu bug times a million.”

But for Billy, whose life has been a downward spiral caused by addictions to both drugs and alcohol, it was worth it.

 “I’ve been clean now for 86 days,” says Billy. “I feel 100 per cent different. I used drugs everyday. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to shave or brush my hair because I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.”

Now, Billy has no problem with his reflection. He finally likes what he sees and credits Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s Withdrawal Management Services and the new 21-day Residential Treatment Service for giving him back his life.

RVH’s Withdrawal Management Services provides a safe environment for individuals to withdraw from substances. The average length of stay is three to five days, after which clients can head down the path to full recovery by participating in the 21-day treatment program.

“We know overcoming an addiction is very difficult and that people will relapse – it’s just part of the illness and the recovery process. But when we get calls from former clients, like Billy, who tell us they are still clean and sober, that is reaffirming to us that treatment can have a positive impact on a person’s recovery,” says Angela McCuaig, manager of Addiction Services, RVH. Before RVH established this unique program there were no local residential treatment options in our region, meaning clients had to travel outside the area for this type of specialized care.

The program is designed to help individuals who struggle with addictions and mental health issues, which often go hand in hand. During the 21 days, clients participate in group therapy focused on loss and recovery, relapse prevention, healthy relationships, life management and coping strategies. People can self-refer to the program and a thorough assessment will determine if the program is right for them.

For Billy, this was the fix he needed. A drug user since his early 20s, his habit eventually cost him his house. It was a wake up call – he wasn’t going to lose his wife and three children as well. They were counting on him succeeding this time.

“I’ve tried to deal with my addictions before, but I just wasn’t ready to talk about the underlying issues and I put up walls,” says Billy. “This time it was different. The program helped me realize my drug use was the symptom of a greater problem and that’s what we worked on. My life is like night and day now. I can’t say enough about the RVH staff. They are really good people.”
Today Billy is clean
Billy is preparing to move into his new home. He’s clean, but he’s not taking that for granted. He attends Narcotics Anonymous as often as seven nights a week.
“I took drugs every day so I need to attend the meetings as often as I can,” says Billy. “My goal now is to be a role model for my children. I want to lead by example. I’ve never done that before.”

For more information or to schedule an intake interview for RVH’s 21-day Residential Treatment Service or Withdrawal Management Services, please call 705-728-9090, ext. 24323.