My story of Brian begins during the summer months of 2010. That’s when I started working with Brian’s team. New to the team and certainly overwhelmed, I found myself having countless discussions with Brian’s support team. We were hoping to find a way to prevent Brian from continuing to fall between the cracks as a result of his substance abuse and unstable living situation.
A Lifetime of Substance Abuse & Dependence
Brian was in his early forties and had spent the majority of his lifetime entrenched in the world of substance abuse and dependence. Consequently, he was often bouncing between shelters and rooming houses in the city. His current residence was pest infested and injuries from physical assaults were continuing to appear. There were reports of Brian being both a perpetrator and victim of violence as his alcohol and substance abuse was accelerating. Brian was also starting to spend periods of time in custody for theft and assault charges. And then there was the evidence of his rapidly deteriorating mental health; at times, Brian was unable to recognize familiar faces or recall what day of the week it was.
Crisis Team Plays Instrumental Role
Though I was new to Turning Leaf, I was able to complete training with the crisis team. They played an instrumental role in helping Brian with getting off the streets. I witnessed their persistent positive regard for him throughout each visit. This positive regard was visible particularly while Brian was incarcerated and we spent hours reminding him that he was ‘a man of peace’, that there was another positive, healthy and sober life waiting for him when he was ready to take it and that he had a team prepared to help him get there.
Sobriety For The First Time In Years
It was after months of incarceration and weekly visits from our team that Brian finally decided he was ready for something different in his life. Although for the next year or so, Brian moved between residential placements and had short stints in custody, his rapport and ability to trust others grew while he began learning more about himself. We watched Brian experience a new confidence and sense of accomplishment as he began to taste a life free from substance abuse, a life of sobriety, which he had not experienced in years.
Turning Leaf Provides Sober Living Arrangement
Brian would later be accepted as a patient at a Psychiatrist‘ office where a stable and long-term psychiatric support team was put into place. He began taking medication daily. His Turning Leaf team helped him practice his anger management techniques and that played a significant role in reducing the violence in his life. It was after Brian and his team found a sober living arrangement that worked best for him that he truly began to thrive.
‘Living Like A King’ Free From Substance Abuse & Shelters
In his new safe residence, Brian was seen by his Turning Leaf team 2-3 times a day to assist with his independent living. They helped him with medication, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and talking through anger and frustration. But what they really did was help him say goodbye to the “old” Brian and welcome the new, happy, healthy Brian.
In 2012, Brian completed his probation and had no further conflict with the law. During his last court appearance, Brian was called to the stand and the Judge inquired about how he was doing. Brian reported that he was ‘living like a king’ and was proud to share that he was living on his own and using his supports and making safe, healthy decisions.
Reunited With Family, Living Alcohol and Drug-free
Brian also reconnected with his mother and siblings who resided in Thompson, Manitoba. Because of that, he learned that he is, in fact, an uncle. He started speaking to his family regularly. Brian’s mental health drastically improved. He practiced his literacy and social skills daily.
The most prominent component to Brian’s success was his strength and ability to overcome what had been almost a lifetime of addiction. Although Brian had experienced a few short-lived relapses within the past two years, he was proud and happy to report that he lives without alcohol and is drug-free.
– Originally written by Marina Wilderspin, Senior Community Support Case Manager
Capital Fundraising Campaign For Addictions Treatment Centre
Turning Leaf is currently raising funds for an addictions treatment centre in Winnipeg for those experiencing mental illness, intellectual challenges, and addictions. People living in these residences will receive medical and therapeutic treatments for their addictions and mental illness. A housing program of this kind ensures safe, supportive housing for people like Brian to heal from addictions and acquire the skills they need for the workforce.
In order to make this possible, we need your help. If you can, please help by donating cash, gifts-in-kind, volunteering your time, and/or helping us to spread our message by sharing our stories.
Together we can help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Thank you for your support!
If you or someone you know needs help from Turning Leaf, review our admissions and referrals information and fill out a referral form here