Five years after opening the New Roads Therapeutic Recovery Community, Our Place is looking to expand and create a similar addiction recovery program for women.
The New Roads Therapeutic Recovery Community opened in 2018 for men who have recently dealt with incarceration, homelessness and addiction.
Forty to 50 participants live on site for up to 24 months and have access to various recovery programming, including counselling and integration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous healing approaches.
New Roads director Cheryl Diebel says this long-form recovery program format has been very successful over the last five years with about 55 per cent of participants successfully completing the program and moving back into the general community.
“People would say, well 55 per cent, is that high enough?” Diebel said. “If you held me to account to say how many men have made 30 days, I could tell you a good 80 per cent, but we are doing more than that. We are bringing men to, I think, a higher level of healthiness and so I’m really happy with the results we’re seeing.”
With this success, Our Place is looking to expand New Roads and add a women’s program.
According to Our Place CEO Julian Daly, there is a desperate need for a centre like this for women.
“There is nothing like this available for women on this Island and women I think are dying because they can’t get into places like this,” Daly said. “The only [place] there is for women like this is on the mainland.”
Our Place is hoping to open a 20-bed therapeutic recovery community exclusively for women on the same site as the men’s program.
Daly said the two programs would be completely separate from each other and there wouldn’t be any interaction between the two.
He said there are a number of reasons to ensure the programs stay separate, with the main one being some women would be arriving having experienced some domestic violence.
“I think for, especially in the early days of recovery, to put them in an environment where there are men around would be, I think, counterproductive and also might mean some women would never consider coming into recovery because they knew men where there,” said Daly.
He said women also approach recovery differently than men and so you would want programing that was more specific.
Some of the men currently in the recovery program would like to see this start as well.
Tyson Airaksinen, who has been in the program for three months, said it would be great to give women facing addiction an opportunity to recover the same way he has been.
“I know people who could really benefit from that that are in my life, so I’m really hoping for that,” Airaksinen said.
He said his alcohol and drug addiction started in his early 20s and ultimately landed him behind bars.
When he was released, he went through an outpatient program and stayed sober for eight years.
“Around year seven I kind of got complacent with my recovery and life hit me with two significant loses in my life,” Airaksinen said.
He explained that his father and best friend passed away around the same time, which sent him into a dark relapse.
“That relapse lasted about two and a half years and I ended up back in the justice system again,” he said. “This time around I met with an addictions counsellor who told me about New Roads, and two and a half months later I found myself here.”
He said the longer program is working well for him as it is giving him more time to correct old habits and thought processes.
“It allows for more accountability, to build up the vulnerability it takes to look inward, to take a look at things, share things and start to heal and grow,” Airaksinen explained.
He hopes that’s something women will be able to experience in the future.
The New Roads facility operates with provincial funding and donations.
Daly said Our Place has applied for more provincial funding to start a women’s program and should hear a decision by November.