Adventure program shows Metro Vancouver man a life beyond his addiction

Burnaby Now

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When Chris found himself in the depths of his addiction to crack cocaine, he says he would “isolate” himself.

He’d close all of the doors. Turn off all of the lights. And then he’d sink inside himself.

Chris says going kayaking and doing other summer adventure activities has helped him see a different future for his life. Photo submitted

These days, however, he’s out of the darkness. He’s actually basking in the sunshine of the summer in the wilderness.

Chris (we’re keeping his last name private) has been kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and more.

And it feels great.

“To be so free in nature and so close to God is surreal,” Chris says.

All of this is possible through the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, which, as part of its nine-month in-patient treatment, has an “adventure program” that takes clients on trips kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking and more as a form of therapy for their mental health and substance use issues. The program is run in partnership with a non-profit called Power to Be.

The clients sometimes describe it as finding a new “natural high.”

Chris tried to get clean before. He did 12-step programs and went to some Christian-based recovery centres.

“But even with God’s support, I still succumbed to my crack cocaine addiction because it was so extreme,” he says.

“I can tell other people that from my experience, even after three payday loans, anything I could pawn was pawned and the next step you are considering is armed robbery or prostitution in order to fill your impulse to this white demon.

“I encourage those of you that are hurting to start to scream that you need help – and don’t stop screaming. I guarantee you that someone will listen and eventually give you the help and love that you deserve. At first, you can’t see any way out, you think nothing will stop your insanity, and that there is no hope or a life with happiness at the end of the day. Come to BMHA to get knowledge, medication, friends and love.”

Chris, who has completed his property management diploma while at the Burnaby centre, says the outdoors adventure program is part of the reason why he’s been able to see a life beyond addiction. It shows him all of life’s possibilities.

And that’s why he’s sharing his story. To help others see a future.

“I hope my story can reach just one person to give that dream of freedom that you will get everything out of life if you just ask for it.”

Run by the Provincial Health Services Authority, the Burnaby centre can be reached by calling 604-675-3950.