“When COVID-19 hit, our program participants were hit hard,” reports Mission Services’ Director of Addictions Services. “Other supports in their recovery were essentially shut down – from programming to 12 step meetings. People were isolated and with isolation comes fear, boredom, and anxiety. They typically mask these feelings by using. Using shouldn’t be an option but they were faced head on with all of the feelings and little support.”
Despite the pandemic, there are some, like Bill, who are celebrating.
The pandemic has been a time of struggle and hardship for so many people in Hamilton. At Suntrac, staff have received more calls from people asking for help than ever before. For those already in the program, this has been a trying time. Staff have worked hard to support all participants, but for many the stress has proven too much.
That is why Bill’s story is so encouraging; celebrating 7 years in recovery during a pandemic.
“I want to start by thanking all the staff; the front desk people, kitchen staff, and of course my counsellors. They know who they are,” Bill laughed.
Bill began his recovery journey with Mission ill Services over 7 years ago when he checked into the Men’s Shelter, and met Cortney, his current support worker in our Addiction Supportive Housing (ASH) program. Bill decided he’d had enough with his addiction. “I brought myself through those doors. They were the best doors that I opened up in my life,” he reminisced.
Soon after, he entered the Bearinger Place (BP) program and took part in addiction recovery treatment at Suntrac while he stayed at BP. While at BP, Bill loved to volunteer in the kitchen. “Mission Services gave me my life back, so I wanted to give back to them. It was a big part of my sobriety,” Bill said. He continued to volunteer until recently.
After the BP program, and participating in Suntrac, after Bill entered the ASH program in 2014. On June 5, 2020, Bill celebrated 7 years of sobriety. He has also accomplished many personal goals including getting a place of his own, building deeper family relationships, and securing employment. Bill attributes his accomplishments to keeping busy with work, volunteering, and hobbies, and to his support system through Mission Services, friends, and family.
Bill made deep connections with many people at ill Mission Services, and loves to connect with them whenever he can.
When he talked about how the pandemic affected him, he said, “The pandemic stress is not going to change my outlook on life. With addiction, every day is a challenge. Well, this is a challenge that we have to face, and I’m facing it. Every day is recovery. Recovery has no holidays, no days off, and no vacation time.”
With Bill’s confident outlook on recovery, and with his tenacity, he has tried to help many others struggling with their addictions, including his own daughter, who recently celebrated 5 years of sobriety. When speaking with those who feel overwhelmed, he gives many points of advice. “You have to do treatment for you, not someone else. When you have a craving, reach out to someone, leave where you are, and ask yourself the three W’s: Where were you? Why did you feel that way? What made you think of it? Then, go back to what we learned in treatment and pinpoint one thing to help you through the urge.”
If Bill’s story helps even one person, he says that’s enough. He urged people to think, “If you’re thinking of going out to drink or use again, just remember – do you want this to control your life, or do you want to control your life? How bad do you want your life back?”