Vital People: Recovery Victoria sober houses are changing lives

Vital People: Recovery Victoria sober houses are changing lives

Recovery Victoria house manager Peter Barry knows first-hand how important a calm and safe environment is for people in addiction recovery.

“There’s a misunderstanding that you go to treatment and all of a sudden, you’re cured or you’re better, and that’s not the reality of it,” Peter says.

Peter struggled with addiction for 25 years, using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“I owned a home here, I had a good job,” he says. “I had everything going for me, but on the inside, I struggled with a lot of pain that went all the way back to my childhood.”

But despite the toll substance abuse was taking, Peter couldn’t stop.

“I knew that I was dying, but I don’t think I really cared,” an emotional Peter admits. “My doctor told me I had maybe three months left to live using the substances I was using, and I kept going.”

When he finally reached out for help, Peter realized recovery would be a long process — and he’d need support.

“As great as treatment is, it’s such a short time frame,” he explains. “I spent 25 years in addiction. I’m not going to fix myself in 30, 60, 90 days. It takes years to get better.”

Peter went to a sober recovery house run by Recovery Victoria, part of Together We Can, which has three homes in Victoria, including a women’s house.

“Being in treatment is a bubble, so coming back to a place where you can kind of chill, you don’t have to worry about going to get food, you don’t have to worry about paying bills, you just need to worry about getting stable again,” explains Together We Can Vancouver Island operations manager Trevor Franklin.

Trevor was a cocaine addict. He started working in outreach after getting sober and convinced Together We Can to open its first house in Victoria 10 years ago.

“Everybody gets tested once a week in our houses and we have a zero-tolerance policy, but even more than that, they come back, and if they’ve had a particularly tough day, they can talk to the guys in the house about it,” Trevor says.

“Some of the guys that come in here, they come from such a place of sadness and pain,” Peter adds. “To see them grow and change, it’s amazing.”

Peter has no doubt his transformation saved his life.

“Somebody was there for me when I needed the help, and to a large degree, I feel a debt of gratitude,” he says. “Without treatment, without recovery, I wouldn’t be here.”

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