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An Open Letter to the City of Surrey

Have you ever seen Arrow? Yeah, that thing where he says “You have failed this city”, you are doing that right now by trying to close down recovery homes instead of trying to regulate them as you should.

Here’s a list of what proper recovery homes should have been providing in return for minimum $500 per month per client.

  • A Commercially accepted kitchen
  • Counselling
  • A support system of men and women who can connect and count on each other for sobriety.
  • An on staff nutritionist to help people come down off of drug addiction safely in a healthy way. And to teach people how to make healthy meals to repair some of the damage caused by drugs and alcohol.
  • A Safe place to put their heads at night. This might include a trip to a local detox center instead of being dumped out on the street after one relapse.

Here is what most of them get however:

  • A Bed until they relapse

As someone who worked in addictions as a volunteer, and later as a member of Surrey Urban Mission Society I have a unique view into the world of recovery homes, never having been in one my self.

I have placed hundreds of people into recovery homes however, only to hear stories that are nothing short of nightmares for people trying to reach out for help.

It takes 36 hours for someone to actively decide to go out and use, I know this from personal experience, from the moment a triggering event occurs to the moment they go out and use you have 36 hours before you lose them back to the streets again. 36 hours in which friends, family and allies actively try to change the trigger from something negative into a positive, and often times they don’t succeed.

It’s not a choice, it is a biological need for the brain to escape the pain caused by the event that the drugs and alcohol are a symptom of.

You cannot sit on that fucking Dais and tell me that you want to end homelessness why simultaneously kicking people out on the street in the same breath.

What Back on Track is doing is unheard of in the City of Surrey, they are fighting for their right to stay in a safe dry place and help others do the same. Between 50-60 people are about to be homeless if the City of Surrey closes them down and forces Police and RCMP to kick the men living there out onto the streets.

So here is my question: Do you have some where these people can go? These “Drug Addicts?” these the bane of our society? These people who are LITERALLY fighting for their lives in order to get healthy? to get strong enough to be able to give back to the same society that is literally in this moment trying to decide if they deserve the right to have a safe place to be?

What Cole Izsak is doing is putting a huge spotlight on what he is trying to accomplish, that means people who support him, such as myself, are watching. With the posting of this letter it is my hope more around the city pay attention, wake up and see that there are real people trying to solve the problems of addiction and homelessness, and you’re not only telling them their work isn’t good enough, you’re telling them that it doesn’t fucking matter.

You have a responsibility to PROTECT this city, to DEFEND it and to AVENGE those who have suffered at the hands of drug addiction and trauma that is a revolving but solvable problem.

You could if you choose to offer to keep them open for a single year on a probationary period. You could offer that they work with other already approved recovery homes to get to the same level. You could have a monthly check in to keep track of those who are succeeding, and use the model of other homes like Pathway to Freedom – still open – Trilogy or by the freaking way THE PHOENIX CENTER WHICH WAS STARTED BY A PERSON WHO DEALT WITH DRUG ADDICTION AND TURNED IT INTO THE BEST RECOVERY CENTER IN THE CITY.

You could work with these recovery homes, and take the time to go into them, to listen to the stories of these men and women who are fighting for their lives, who are in my eyes, every inch the hero’s I was told that “Drug addicts” aren’t.

What is more heroic than having a problem and reaching into a place that offers hope, for help? What greater super hero action is there than men and women working together in Recovery programs around the world to help each other?

We’re not supposed to talk about Narcotics Anonymous, because we’re supposed to keep the stories we hear to ourselves – granted – but what we can do, those of us working together to help each other stay sober from the pain and sorrow is go to the Rally in front of Surrey City Hall on July 8th at 3:00 Pm.

We can do so without shame, understanding that there was always going to come a time that we would have to stand up and fight for our brothers and sisters literally living in the middle of the war on drugs, and we can support the Back on Track Community with our presence and our voices. Anything less is a broken promise to every single person who believes that drugs and alcohol are the only solution.

Be proud of these people for not only admitting they have a problem, but that they also used drugs and alcohol to deal with that problem. It’s not easy to admit you aren’t perfect, but it’s even harder to stand in front of a building filled with “good salt of the earth citizens” who think you are nothing more than a piece of dirt because you didn’t end up high in the glass tower.

July 8th 2019 is the moment that I see hundreds of members of the NA Community come together to stand by those who are not only asking for help, but doing so as publicly as possible.

Perhaps if we admit that we have a problem in our community of not ENOUGH good Recovery houses we can keep Back on Track open and helping as many people as I am sure that Cole and his team are capable of.

For some people, Recovery in all it’s beautiful and weird forms is their religion, there is no greater deed than helping another person recover. – Kenny said that. I’m allowed to say so.

Good luck, I’ll see you there.

Devon J Hall

 

 

 

 

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