November 22, 2017 9:00 am

Rising-up from rock bottom: Winnipeg man’s first step to recovery started at HSC

WATCH: Global's Eva Kovacs speaks with a Winnipeg man who fought his way from rock bottom, and his first step was at HSC.


Every year more than 500,000 patients rely on Health Sciences Centre for medical care.

The Winnipeg hospital was the place Roland Vandal turned to for help when he hit rock bottom battling addiction and mental health issues.

It’s been a long road to recovery and the first big step was walking into HSC 15 years ago.

“I was living in hotels and living on the street and I was such a broken person, addicted to drugs, alcohol I just couldn’t stop. I just pushed everyone out of my life,” Vandal said.

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Unable to pull himself out of the darkness, Vandal hit rock bottom.

“I wrote a suicide note to my son Jessie apologizing and I drank a bottle of methadone and I went to sleep.”

The next morning Vandal woke up. Lying on the bathroom floor, having thrown up, he reached out to his mother for help.

“I called my mom and she dropped me off at Health Sciences Centre and hence that’s my sobriety date May 15, 2002.

Vandal said he was admitted to the addictions unit and spent most of the time asleep. He remembers waking up hooked up to an IV with a nurse by his side.

“I remember this nurse patting my head saying that everything is going to be okay, you’re okay now. You’re safe now.”

When he was younger, Vandal was abused by six different people. He was battling addiction and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Life was a struggle.

His time at HSC was a turning point for Vandal. After being released from the hospital he took part in long-term rehabilitation but continues to stay connected with his doctor.

“I’ve used the resources to the max and I still see my doctor every month. It changed my whole life I don’t feel alone anymore.”

Vandal has remained clean and sober for 15 years. He has written a book of short stories about his life, Off The Ropes – My Story. Dozens of articles and awards are hung on his wall at home, a reminder when things get tough of how far he’s come.

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He’s traveled throughout Canada and the United States sharing his journey with others. As an advocate, his goal is to inspiring people and raise awareness about mental health and addiction.

“I believe in paying it forward,” Vandal said.

He runs a group home for at risk youth and spends time in the boxing ring coaching young athletes.

“Now that I lead a good clean sober life I believe the possibilities are endless.”

Vandal is sharing his story to help support HSC, the hospital that was his first big step to turning his life around.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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