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Weekly Speaker Program

December 7, 2020: Earl Thiessen, Executive Director of Oxford House an Addictions Recovery Centre

Bryden Horwood introduced today’s program featuring Earl Thiessen from Oxford House, a centre for assisting people in states of addiction from alcohol and other substances.

Highlights of the presentation included the following:

  • Earl was an addict who was homeless, on the streets for many years, and resident at Alpha house before he entered Oxford House (OH) and then found his way over eleven years, out of his situation, and into main stream life. Now he is the executive director at OH, and someone who is always willing to assist others in this predicament.
  • OH has 19 homes in Calgary, 18 in Edmonton, three in Drumheller; and is in the process of developing pre-treatment centres to assist in the acceleration of treatment preparation for addicts. Their homes are rehab centres for those working their way out of addiction.
  • OH has an indigenous program that works with spiritualist, smudging, powwow and healing circle treatments for those from the first nations that seek alternate healing methods.
  • Some homes have been dedicated to the mission of women of our society who needed this assistance and perished as a result of not receiving the help.
  • The pre-treatment centres provide detox and mandatory meeting with agencies in advance of going into treatment centres.
  • Alcohol is by far the biggest contributor to addiction because it is legal and accessible.
  • The decriminalisation of drugs is not, in his opinion, the solution. More treatment centres would provide greater impact to this problem.
  • Addiction is a family disease because it impacts the whole family. There is a great deal of shame and guilt attached to addiction and it needs special treatment. AA is a complement to what they do at OH.
  • Funding is 70% self-sustained by the residents and 30% from other sources.

Steve Rickard provided the thanks of the club.

reported by Saadat Keshavjee

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