Updated: Dec 20, 2022
It has to be said. The folks at mens' recovery program Discovery House, led by former client turned executive director Jerome Abraham, know how to keep the DH name in the public eye. And that's a critical skill when you're constantly trying to raise bucks.
Another in a long line of well-publicized 2022 Discovery House events unfolded late Saturday afternoon at the organization's 633 Winnipeg address with the annual Shed the Light on Addiction Light-Up, where all those twinkling lights we saw the guys install last week were officially switched on.
As an added post-pandemic bonus for 2022, the evening's program included an indoor segment where clients and guests alike could all hang out together and grab a warm drink and a little food in the lower floor living room and kitchen.
And that's where we also ran into a guy named Tyler Garrett. We walked into the kitchen and he immediately said hello. So we sat down and chatted with him.
Garrett, 38 and rather articulate, arrived in a state of "desperation" at the primary care Winnipeg Street Discovery House address on Aug. 27th. He's adhered to the program ever since, and just two days ago graduated to the secondary care facility on Lee Avenue for another 90-day period.
He is, as he should be, thrilled with the progress. But he's not forgetting about the demons that plague him.
"I lost my family over this," he said. "I lost my child. I abandoned all responsibility in my life and gave up on them. I lost the relationship with my child because I chose drugs over him."
When he arrived at Winnipeg Street, Garrett, who's a lofty 6' 4", weighed just 140 pounds. His skin, he claims, was "grey." And he sincerely believes he would have died in the span of a couple weeks had he not made it into Discovery House when he did.
Today, already, he's put on a few lbs -- in a good way -- and his skin looks great, not grey. And he's feeling mentally strong.
But the journey wasn't easy.
"I've never been able to find value in myself," said Garrett. "My thinking takes me places that are scary and dangerous. Stuff like I'm a loser, my family hates me. I trained myself to think that my entire life.
"And it's only worse if you keep pounding drugs into your body."
Garrett freely admits he was "drinking at 7 (years of age) and drugging by 12." He was clean from 29 to 33, but has been "in and out of recovery" a whole bunch, trying to find "some semblance of a soul within myself."
"I've moved all over," said the North Vancouver native. "I've screwed up relationships in Kelowna, screwed them up in Langley, screwed them up everywhere. You always run away from yourself."
He has, however, managed to keep his job through all of it. He builds occupational health and safety programs.
And his girlfriend has stuck with him too. In fact, she went into recovery when he did. He says she's also four months clean.
We asked why the abstinence-based Discovery House plan has worked for him (so far) when prior attempts have not.
"They taught me here that by involving myself in recovery, I can find value in myself again," said Garrett. "That my soul isn’t gone. And I put in the work, I volunteer my time, and I keep showing up."
Garrett knew from the moment he arrived that the Discovery House staff meant business.
"They looked at me when I got here and asked, 'What would you do for your drugs?' And I said 'Anything.'
"And they asked, 'What would you do for recovery?' And I said, 'Anything.' And they said, "Good. Then don’t ever say no to anything recovery puts in your path.'"
"And from that day on I haven’t said no to anything."
Later, amongst the speakers waxing poetic about the facility was graduate Adam Rice. Rice is one of many alumni to show up for functions such as Saturday's.
And on this night, Rice, as he's done in the past, went beyond words. The LNG pipeline worker also donated $1,000 of his own money and challenged other grads to buck up too.
"I came here in June of 2020," he said. "I stayed in this house for 273 days, then I moved to the Edna Avenue house and lived there for another eleven months."
Today, Rice's life has turned completely around. He makes exceptional money working on the pipeline between Chetwynd and Kitimat and credits Discovery House for keeping him on the straight and narrow.
"I am a success story," he said when we asked him just that. "And this house gave me the tools and the skills to go it on my own. There's a lot of substance abuse up there, and with the tools I gained here, I've had no temptation to even dabble back in that life."
"Everything I have today is because of that house."
Discovery House is still gladly accepting donations for its 2022 Shed the Light on Addiction campaign. It was looking to raise $153,300 by the end of December, the exact number needed to fund four currently unfunded treatment beds for one year at its Winnipeg Street home.
Executive director Abraham told us Sunday they still have $63,000 to go, adding "Miracles can happen, right?"
To donate, go here.