It’s nearly five years since Trish (not her real name) walked through Tamarack’s door, looking for help with a substance addiction, yet she recalls it like it was yesterday.
“Oh my gosh, I was so scared! But the clients and staff all took me under their wing and welcomed me,” she reflects.
“I even remember being told ‘we will love you until you love yourself’. That was so important to hear, especially at that time when I wasn’t sure anybody cared.”
In the eight weeks that followed, Trish threw herself into the Tamarack addictions treatment program, learning the tools and skills she would need after graduation to stay sober and have a healthier life.
“I realized that I needed to get rid of my using friends and set healthy boundaries with others. I got to know my triggers and understand about relapse and how that can happen. I learned that I can have fun sober.”
However, as Trish puts it, “Recovery doesn’t happen in a bubble.” She knew that despite making great strides within the program, some of the hardest times would begin after treatment as she returned to her community, family and friends and tried to fit back in.
“I was so happy that there was a way to stay connected after graduation,” says Trish who began Tamarack’s weekly aftercare group as soon as she was able.
“Our experience has shown that when a person leaves treatment, having made significant changes to their lifestyle and outlook, their return to their family and community can be challenging,” says Joanne Riedle, Forward in Recovery (FIR) Program Coordinator at Tamarack.
“As well as practical issues such as finding housing, employment, education, and medical care – areas of their lives which may have been impacted by their addiction – their family and friends must now learn to reconnect with someone who may seem fundamentally different from the person who was in their lives before treatment. This process can be really stressful if you don’t feel supported.”
That’s why Tamarack decided to create an enhanced aftercare program aimed at graduates’ families. The Forward in Recovery (FIR) Program includes weekly meetings for family members, individual case management and referrals to support services, as well as opportunities for families, friends and graduates to socialize in a safe, sober environment to help people reconnect and rebuild healthy relationships.
The program is the result of Tamarack’s client-driven approach and its focus on developing treatment excellence.
The idea emerged from feedback provided in graduate surveys and in the weekly case conference meetings where positive impacts of involving family members or close friends in a client’s recovery was often discussed. It inspired the creation of a program that’s giving clients more of what they need to achieve long term recovery.
After securing part funding from The Winnipeg Foundation and Manitoba Community Services Council, Tamarack is now offering the program as an enhancement to its existing aftercare provision and is expecting demand for both areas of aftercare to increase as awareness of the offering grows amongst former clients, their family members, and referral sources.
“We’re always really excited to be able to offer new services to clients, and if the positive response to the first new group session was anything to go by, we think we’ve got the program features pretty spot-on.” says Riedle. “But we constantly want to do better so we’ll be putting an evaluation plan in place to review and develop the program as we move through this year.
We’re also looking forward to reconnecting with former clients and their family members who have lost touch with us and hope the launch of this program lets them know that we are always there for them throughout their recovery journey.”
For Trish, winning the battle to get sober was just the beginning. Fighting the war to stay that way has been an even greater challenge.
“I have been coming to aftercare almost every week for over four years. I have a place to go where I can talk about anything, with no judgment, and everybody circles around you in support. Realistically, in early recovery, we don’t trust many people, so to be able to work with our family, with the help of people we already know and trust is huge.
Thanks to aftercare at Tamarack, I am staying sober.”
To read Trish’s full story, click here: http://www.tamarackrehab.org/images/pdfs/ourprogram/TRC_Testim_News_5.pdf
More information about the program can be found at http://www.tamarackrehab.org/our-program/aftercare-program or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamarack Recovery Centre is a private, non-profit, federally registered charity providing residential abstinence based addictions treatment and recovery services in Winnipeg. Tamarack’s facility, based in a historic house in a neighbourhood setting, is co-ed with up to twelve clients participating in a rolling 60 to 78 day treatment program.
Tamarack accepts referrals from a variety of community and health service providers as well as Corrections Canada, employee assistance programs, and self-referrals.
Tamarack has been serving the community for nearly 40 years and is accredited with exemplary standing by Accreditation Canada.