U-Turn raises ad­dic­tion aware­ness with walk, in­for­ma­tion ses­sion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

We’ve got to come to­gether as the com­mu­nity of Con­cep­tion Bay North and start rais­ing aware­ness around ad­dic­tion. Jef­frey Bourne

There was a time when the U-Turn Drop-In Cen­tre’s rep­u­ta­tion wasn’t held in the high­est re­gard.

It was sev­eral years ago and drug ad­dic­tion had yet to come out of the dark­ness in the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion. Ad­dic­tion was on the rise and peo­ple felt like U-Turn was do­ing more harm than good.

“When we first started, some­one ap­proached us and said we had cre­ated a mon­ster in the com­mu­nity,” said UTurn ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jef­frey Bourne. “Tammy (Bourne’s wife) said, ‘The mon­ster is al­ready here, we just have it out of the closet.’

“Ad­dic­tion has been around here for a long time. When I started my re­cov­ery 11 years go, it was bad then. But, it’s gone be­yond now.”

Judg­ing by the peo­ple who came out to it’s aware­ness night at the Knights of Colum­bus in Car­bon­ear last Tues­day, there’s been an at­ti­tude change re­gard­ing the work Bourne, his wife Tammy and oth­ers at the cen­tre do for those in need of help. U-Turn helps thou­sands of peo­ple a year by guid­ing them on their road to re­cov­ery.

The cen­tre kicked off national ad­dic­tions week last Tues­day with a walk to raise aware­ness for the is­sue in the re­gion.

More than 50 peo­ple left the U-Turn build­ing on Pow­ell Drive and made the 15-minute walk to the Knights of Colum­bus build­ing. Sur­rounded by emer­gency ve­hi­cles, the large group was a mix­ture of young, old, fam­i­lies, com­mu­nity fig­ures and oth­ers hop­ing to raise the cen­tre’s pro­file and the work they do to help peo­ple strug­gling with any num­ber of ad­dic­tions.

Once, Bourne turned around to see how many were tak­ing part in the walk and he was sur­prised to see so many peo­ple walk­ing with him.

“I thought it was a huge suc­cess,” he told The Com­pass af­ter­wards. “I thought we’d get 15 or 20, but when I looked back and saw 40-odd … it was re­ally good. I was shocked but I’m glad peo­ple are com­ing out and speak­ing about ad­dic­tion.”

When the walk reached its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, the night did not end there. Cou­pling with the Open-Door Min­istries, UTurn held an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion for any­one in­volved.

There were speak­ers from the Grace Cen­tre in Har­bour Grace, the RCMP, health pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers who touched on what they see in the area when it comes to ad­dic­tion and where peo­ple can turn to get help.

“At least to­day, we’re talk­ing about ad­dic­tion,” said com­mu­nity polic­ing of­fi­cer John Clarke. “Hav­ing 50 peo­ple walk tonight is say­ing, ‘We’re hear and we want to fix this’ and I think that’s great and awesome thing to do.”

Bourne hes­i­tated to call the meet­ing call to ac­tion for peo­ple who want to help era­di­ate ad­dic­tion. He pointed to some of the ex­cel­lent pro­grams be­ing of­fered by the pro­vin­cial government and other com­mu­nity groups that are help­ing in the fight.

He’d still like to see more done and im­plores those strug­gling to seek out any help they can get.

“For us, speak­ing out and rais­ing aware­ness around ad­dic­tion … I al­ways say this is a com­mu­nity thing,” said Bourne. “We’ve got to come to­gether as the com­mu­nity of Con­cep­tion Bay North and start rais­ing aware­ness around ad­dic­tion.

“It af­fects ev­ery­one. It’s a dis­ease. Help is out there.”

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/TC ME­DIA

U-Turn Drop-In Cen­tre ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jef­frey Bourne speaks dur­ing a national ad­dic­tions week in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at the Knights of Colum­bus last Tues­day.

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