Mak­ing a u-turn to re­cov­ery


Jeff Bourne of Vic­to­ria is a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic and ad­dict who has no qualms about mak­ing him­self trans­par­ent and, if nec­es­sary, vul­ner­a­ble.

Last Wed­nes­day, an idea he helped spear­head fi­nally came to fruition. U-Turn Drop-in Cen­tre in Car­bon­ear, a pro­ject of the Com­mu­nity Aware­ness Ad­dic­tions Com­mit­tee, was of­fi­cially opened to peo­ple who strug­gle with ad­dic­tion is­sues.

Four years ago, Bourne, 39, asked his clergy, Rev. Jesse Bown of the Vic­to­ria/Fresh­wa­ter United Church pas­toral charge, “ You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?”

To­gether, they set out on a jour­ney to es­tab­lish what Bourne calls a place for peo­ple to “get a lit­tle bit of hope.”

A few short years ago, hope was the far­thest thing from Bourne’s mind.

As an ad­dict, he had reached his own per­sonal bot­tom, “ei­ther life or death. One morn­ing, I was on my way to kill my­self.”

How­ever, wi t h the sup­port of his church and clergy, he took a de­ci­sive uturn to re­cov­ery.

The cen­tre, which is lo­cated at 46 Pow­ell Drive, is a tribute to the te­nac­ity of the hu­man spirit to rise from the depths of de­spair to the heights of, well, hope.

As good as Bourne and Bown’s idea was, it was dead in the wa­ter with­out set-up and op­er­at­ing funds. En­ter the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy said, “we found the pro­vin­cial fund­ing to start the pro­ject.” All $50,000. Now the cen­tre is off and run­ning.

Too of­ten, ad­dic­tion is­sues, like men­tal health chal­lenges, are swept un­der the rug, as though they don’t ex­ist or, if they do ex­ist, they are less se­ri­ous than some peo­ple make them out to be.

Four years ago, Bourne could have hid­den his per­sonal demons and strug­gled to han­dle them on his own. How­ever, he chose to go the pub­lic route and en­list the help of in­di­vid­u­als who were in a po­si­tion to help.

There is ob­vi­ously a very real need in our so­ci­ety for such a fa­cil­ity. As more and more peo­ple with chal­lenges step for­ward, per­haps the Car­bon­ear tem­plate will be repli­cated else­where. There may yet come a day when ad­dic­tion is­sues take on a stigma-free pub­lic face. At least, one can hope.

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