Calgary Herald

Addictions centre to help women, too

- CLAIRE YOUNG NEIGHBOURS

In the past 30 years, 1835 House has helped hundreds of men dry out, sober up and build productive lives. Now Recovery Acres Society, which runs the rehab facility in the heart of Marda Loop in the city’s southwest, wants to offer a program for women.

1835 House, named for the building’s street address, has 30 residentia­l beds and eight out-patient spots for men. They’re generally full, with about a two-week waiting list.

“(Addictions help) is a dire need in the province. It’s about four weeks and longer for any program,” program manager Peter Conroy says. And the will to change can be a time-limited window of opportunit­y.

“They’re ready to come for help, but there’s no room, so they go back to drugs and alcohol,” he says during a recent visit to the spare but comfortabl­e facility.

Recovery Acres Society wants to rectify the situation. It is raising funds to build a second, slightly larger facility to move the men’s program to, and turn 1835 House into the home for a women’s program.

To support the 45-bed, $11 million project, the society is bringing the Moscow Ballet to Calgary as part of an eight-city, 16-show tour in November. The troupe will also perform in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

Executive director John O’Reilly met Akiva Talmi, the Moscow Ballet’s producer, at a musical conference in New York. Upon learning that the ballet does one charity tour per year, O’Reilly quickly convinced Talmi of the program’s worthiness.

The ballet fits with a policy the board adopted 11 years ago, that fundraiser­s must be addictions-free: no casinos or bingos.

“We started our golf tournament, then worked at developing fundraiser­s other than the gambling,” O’Reilly says. Recovery Acres turned to Stage West theatre, ballet and music production­s to raise funds.

The Moscow Ballet will be performing Swan Lake on Nov. 19 and 20. Tick- ets are available through Ticketmast­er and through 1835 House.

1835 House’s clientele — about 300 men pass through its doors a year — cuts across the socio-economic board.

“Labourers, journeymen, some who own their own business,” Patrick, an alumnus of three years, says. Public relations manager Jim Calverly adds to the list of those helped, “Doctors, lawyers, an Indian chief, rock stars and a movie producer.”

Those in the residentia­l program stay one to six months, while the outpatient program is two weeks long. Key to the 1835 House model, developed here in Calgary, is that participan­ts must abstain from alcohol and drugs and get a job.

There are different models of treatment, but none offer an abstinence and work-based program for women in the province, says Conroy.

Between working — which gives each day a purpose, helps build selfesteem and provides a living — and abstaining, the success rate for clients is high, says Conroy. A survey in 2005 of past clients showed that 82 per cent had continuous abstinence six months after the end of their program, while 74 per cent made it sober through the first year. Their statistics show that if clients made it one year, they were almost sure to make it a second year, too, as 73 per cent were abstinent for two years.

Recognitio­n of making it an entire year hangs on the walls

Membership in the select club of those who have made it one year clean is recognized with a plaque. Rimming the top of the walls in each common room, 1,200 names twinkle in success.

“For the new fellow, the first thing you see are the plaques,” says Patrick, who just marked his third year of sobriety. “These are all the guys who sat in these chairs and made it. It makes you think that maybe one day I’ll get one, too.

“I’ve been fortunate to have some recognitio­n in my life,” says the man who holds a PhD and accolades in his field. “But there is nothing, nothing I’m more proud of than having my plaque up in 1835 House.”

 ??  ?? John O’Reilly, executive director of 1835 House, left, and program manager Peter Conroy are all smiles outside the Marda Loop facility.
John O’Reilly, executive director of 1835 House, left, and program manager Peter Conroy are all smiles outside the Marda Loop facility.

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