“It’s not about staying out of jail anymore, it’s about getting my life back.”
When he entered the Calgary Drug Treatment Court (CDTC) a year ago, Dave (not his real name) had no intention of succeeding in it.
“I was using [CDTC] as a way of getting out,” he says. “I had plans to leave.”
Dave was assigned a place in Simon House Recovery Centre, a key community partner of the Calgary Drug Treatment Court. Simon House provided Dave with a 12-week residential addiction treatment program where he would learn about addiction, start to heal, and also connect to and support others in the program.
Many CDTC participants enter our program so depleted of their personal resources from years of addiction and criminal lifestyles, they see no hope of getting sober, drug-free and crime-free. Part of the program’s intervention is to help them see hope and start to take positive steps forward.
Our community residential addiction treatment partners play an important role in the early stages of drug treatment court participants’ experience in the community.
The fellowship Dave experienced at Simon House changed his heart and his mind.
“I premeditated [leaving] for months, getting in a cab,” he says. “I don’t know if I wanted it that bad. You have to want it to do this program.”
Two other CDTC participants, also living at Simon House, recognized and discussed Dave’s urge to flee, one later told him. The discussion went something like…“I better stick close to this guy ‘cause he wants to run. We can make him feel like [doing the program] is possible.’
Dave would not have stayed without the support of his two new friends.
“There was nothing positive when I got out that door at Remand,” he recalls. “I was terrified. I was lost, overwhelmed. The fear of the unknown, whether I can make it and truly do this… In my heart I felt I wasn’t going to do anything in this program. I knew nothing about getting my life together. I was terrified of treatment.”
Simon House taught Dave “not only that I’m an addict, but everything else that comes with that: dealing with my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings impacting my life, being a sexual assault survivor and leaning on that as an excuse to use. When we got grief counselling at the house I was carrying a lot of useless guilt around – there’s true guilt and then there’s bullshit.”
Once driven by the fear of returning to jail, Dave now sees “it’s not about staying out of jail anymore, it’s about getting my life back. All the things I’ve damaged, things I’ve lost, my family. I got pictures of my baby I lost.”
Research underscores the value of positive social relationships as one of the most important factors in sustaining recovery. Another is participation in an addiction treatment program.
Dave is forever grateful for CDTC “getting me out and giving me this opportunity, showing me that you guys care, for the friendships I got in this program – true friendships I’ve never had in decades. We share our stories, our experience, our strength and our hope and that alone helped me get through. Getting my family back, showing my folks that I’m a better person and that I can be a better person. Getting my health back, enjoying good things in life. Going fishing, camping, things you never do in addiction.”
Now Dave pays it forward.
“I talk to the new guy who just came to Simon House,” he says. “I told him my story — just give it some time and you’re not going to be doing this just to stay out of jail but you’re going to be doing this to change your life.”