What hand were you dealt?


On Wednesday mornings, I head over to 174 King (aka 174), which is one of House of Friendship’s addiction programs. This program is a 6-8 month residential treatment facility for men who desire to overcome an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. There are approximately fifteen men who stay in the house at any given time, providing them with a supportive and substance-free environment to help them in their recovery.

The environment and sense of community at 174 absolutely astounds me. The residents are committed to making lifestyle changes and are incredibly supportive to one another. Initially I was unsure if how I, a female in my mid twenties, would be received at a program such as 174. Most of what I do while at this program involves sitting in on the group therapy sessions, and I get the privilege of observing, listening to, and occasionally participating in the groups. I was worried that the men in the group wouldn’t open up as much with having someone new who is younger and of a different gender in the group.

What I found was that the men in the group have done exactly the opposite of what I had been concerned about. They have been incredibly open and honest in sharing their thoughts, feelings, and the history of their childhood and subsequent addiction(s). Not only that, but there is freedom to joke and laugh with them, and I am always greeted warmly by all of them.

I sit in on two group sessions on Wednesdays: one on the topic of Relapse Prevention, and another dealing with Family Issues. The addictions counsellors who facilitate the group sessions are exceptional at creating a safe space for sharing, healing and recovery. It is amazing to see the group members support each other and advocate for each other and for themselves.

One of the many things that I appreciate about the men in the program is the strength and determination that they possess in order to move through this program and face the things (whether in their past or present) that have contributed to their addictions. They are often incredibly open and raw with their thoughts, questions or struggles. I often feel that I am learning/benefitting more from them than they are from me being there.

Recently I have been learning much from the residents about their experiences and anticipations of the holiday season. Many of them have talked about how being in the midst of potential unhealthy family dynamics during the Christmas season could possibly be dangerous for their sobriety and recovery. As a result they have had to make a difficult decision, as to whether they will spend time with their family or remain at 174 over the holidays.

It is in seeing these men’s committment to a lifestyle change, and honesty about their lives, that I have been learning how similar our lives can be. It just so happens that they were dealt a different hand in life and thrown different challenges than I was.  The way the men are using their voices and strength to bring about positive changes in their lives continues to amaze me, and makes me look forward to seeing the progress that they are making from week to week.

Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “What hand were you dealt?”

  1. Michael Hackbusch Says:

    Well thought and well written, Sarah. Very insightful. mh+

  2. Taylor Martin Says:

    I am constantly amazed and inspired when I talk with people who struggle with addictions. Many have had to live through very difficult life experiences. Their resilience is encouraging and their determination to change what they can inspires. Some have spent much time looking inward and have a very strong awareness of who they are, motivations, strengths and weaknesses. They work hard to make change and to live with integrity. Their is much to learn from those who are on that journey.

    We all face challenges that can become all-consuming, disallusioning, painful, and create brokenness. Being aware of how we act and react and how well we cope with life can help us with healing and wholeness. The message of ‘One day at a time” is good advice for all of us.

    “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa

    “Fall seven times, stand up eight” Japanese Proverb

  3. capergirl Says:

    Words well spoken SARAH!! You have amazing insight and your presence at the program provides a valuable contribution to the recovery of the residents.

Leave a Reply to Michael Hackbusch Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: