“They saved my life.”
Denis Seguin is being treated for his addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling. He has been in and out of treatment facilities in search of help.
He claims he has finally found it.
The Broadacres Addiction Centre is a privately owned facility. It was opened a mere two months ago after Zuhair Akbar, Licensed Practical Nurse and CEO of Broadacres, purchased the building from Addiction Canada.
Addiction Canada was forced to close their doors following investigations into the owner and a labour dispute, where local employees were filing with Alberta Labour against the company over unpaid wages.
Although Broadacres is in the same building Addiction Canada used, Akbar couldn’t emphasize enough that there is a significant difference between the two.
Knowing the community was still tender after the issues with Addiction Canada, he understands that he has to prove Broadacres is different.
“If someone would come and see me, see how passionate I am about what I do, and what I love to do here, I think their perception would definitely change,” he said.
As someone who has watched friends struggle with addiction, he knows first-hand how hard it can be to find help. This was his main motivation for purchasing the facility and opening his own treatment centre.
“Growing up I had the same group of friends since kindergarten, so almost 24 years of friendship. There was seven of us, and almost all of my friends are addicts,” Akbar said. “I lost one (friend) four years ago to addiction, and that’s when I knew I wanted to become an addiction nurse, or at least specialize in addiction.”
Akbar worked for Addiction Canada in 2015 for four months, and again in 2016 for six months.
“There were some things I didn’t like about (working for Addiction Canada), but it was for the clients,” he said, adding it was also about gaining experience.
“When I found out (Addiction Canada) was shutting down, I thought it would be a great idea to jump on it and help the community,” Akbar described.
Akbar re-hired some of the old staff that had been let go by Addiction Canada, and took some of his experience from an addiction facility in Vancouver to integrate a five-step program.
“The staff I re-hired, they’re the good apples of the tree. They were the ones who were let go or fired when they worked for Addiction Canada. The only reason they were is because they couldn’t be manipulated to do horrible things or act horribly, or they left on their own accord,” he added.
The five-step program offers clients the bare bones of the more common 12-step program. It gives Broadacres clients an overview of the whole process instead of the first few steps.
Akbar explained, “Getting the meat and potatoes of the program while you’re here is more beneficial than learning one to four steps and then learning the rest on your own.”
Laura Safeoniuk was a program counsellor for Addiction Canada for over a year, and now works for Broadacres. She described the difference as night and day.
While working for Addiction Canada, Safeoniuk said the staff was unhealthy, resulting in poor quality of care for clients. At Broadacres, the staff is happy and enthusiastic about what they do.
“They have the passion. They don’t do things just a third of the way, they go all of the way.”
Seguin noticed how the upbeat attitude of staff impacted his overall care and healing. He said his mindset has been different from previous treatment facilities, because he could tell the staff cared, so much in fact that they let him in for free.
Seguin was ready to give-up on getting over his multiple addictions, when his mother told him to call Akbar. That one phone call saved his life.
“I’m just so happy to be here,” exclaimed Seguin.
One of the biggest differences is the ability to alter programming based on the client’s needs.
“We’re all individuals. We’re not all the same. Personally, I’m not very good at reading or writing. Sitting me in a room and telling me to read a big book for an hour straight by myself doesn’t work for me… Here, they’re able to work with us and design a plan that will give us the most information,” Seguin stated.
The treatment centre can take up to 20 clients in their program, and 15 in detox. They have a staff of 22, and are currently serving six people in need of help.
The centre is currently going through the process of being accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), but it’s a long process.
Akbar encourages the community to stop by the facility, meet the staff and experience the difference first-hand.
“I know a lot of people were hurt about Addiction Canada, especially the community. I know that there was a bit of black lash there. I just want to help and make a difference. I want to make things right,” he said.