50 years of Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres: Helping people recover from addictions

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Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres helps people heal from addictions
WATCH ABOVE: (From Dec. 23, 2023) Alberta's opioid crisis has proven deadly and drug users and the health system continue to struggle with more and more overdoses. There's a push to find new ways to battle the addictions problem in Alberta. The Poundmaker's Lodge Treatment Centres has been helping people recover for 50 years. Sarah Komadina takes us inside to look at the commitment to culture, spirituality and recovery – Dec 28, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: Global News has agreed to replace the names of some people interviewed for this article to protect their identity in accordance with the treatment centre’s policies.

The Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres have been helping people recover from addictions for 50 years.

The treatment facility focuses on using Indigenous culture to help people heal.

There are several programs people who are struggling can take, including services specifically for women and for youth.

“Where I am right now, I can feel again, and I am inspired to stay sober,” Jason said.

Jason has had a difficult life. He started using when he was 15 years old. Now 36, he was been caught in a cycle of drug abuse.

“I got kicked out of my house when I was 15 years old, because of my own behaviour and my own issues.”

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Jason said he used a “plethora” of drugs. From weed and alcohol to methamphetamine and cocaine.

“I had the same go around multiple times. I had a job, then I would be doing good at my job, and I would get financially sound. Next thing you know, I’d start using again. Then I’d lose my job,” he said.

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Jason said he would sometimes not have anywhere to sleep.

“It was the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity.”

This isn’t the first time Jason has been at a treatment centre, but this is the first one where traditional Indigenous values are used. He feels optimistic he can stay sober.

“I feel more complete, and I feel like I am taking it seriously,” he said. “I am doing the work that you need to do in order to stay sober, and have a good after-care plan. That is something that Poundmaker’s provides.

“When I was out, there were times I didn’t have a place to stay for a week, or I didn’t shower for a week. (I) come in here and they treat you like you’re a human being again. They remind you that you are worth something.”

Elder Peter Nippi has relied on his culture to guide him and stay sober for more than three decades. He now helps other people who are struggling with similar issues.

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“What has alcohol done to our people? What has pot done to our people? And now we see the garbage out there … The crystal meth and what that’s doing,” Nippi said.

Nippi said being able to use culture gives people a sense of belonging and is a big part in the healing process.

“The hardest thing was to get into contact with my identity — today that is where I shine and that is where my strength is,” Nippi said.

“The spiritual program in terms of rituals, in terms of smudging, in terms of ceremonies and what’s around them, you look at the centre and you see the native art that is around, you see the pictures … It’s all about recovery.”

Deena Latta is a women’s counsellor for the 42-day program. She said it is amazing to see the growth in people from when they first arrive.

“It’s just amazing because not only is it their recovery growth, it’s also their spirituality,” she said. “Some people have not ever smudged before or been to a ceremony and this is the first time they have (turned) to their culture.”

Latta said it is important for people to be able to feel comfortable to open up about their feelings, and Poundmaker’s works on giving people a safe place to do that.

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“Everything that is said and done is behind you, and when you go into treatment, you have the support of being able to let these things go in a healthy way.”

As for Jason, he is thankful he is at the treatment centre, and hopes moving forward he can use what he has learned to stay sober. He wants other people who are struggling with addictions to know they are not alone.

“Just know that you’re not the only one out there and here we pray for people that are dealing with their issues.”

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