An NHL Legend, A Physician & a Canine Assist Addicts Discover Hope


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Aug. 19, 2022 — Amongst hockey followers, Kevin Stevens is a legend. A member of a number of groups, together with the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers, the now 57-year-old was particularly identified for being a Pittsburgh Penguin through the workforce’s Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992.

However the Bostonian can also be a recovering addict whose life modified dramatically when he was 28 years previous and made “one unhealthy resolution” one night time.

“I had by no means finished medicine in my life, however somebody caught cocaine in entrance of me,” he says. “I didn’t know what it was, however I attempted it and that modified my life for the subsequent 24 years.”

Stevens cast a protracted and infrequently well-publicized battle for sobriety with many challenges alongside the best way, together with an opioid dependancy due to an enormous hockey harm (in addition to persevering with to make use of cocaine) and an arrest for dealing oxycodone in 2016.

When he entered a responsible plea in 2017, he vowed to show his life round. Ever since, he has devoted his life to assist others by Energy Ahead, a nonprofit he began in 2018 that’s targeted on elevating consciousness about dependancy.

Convey on the Canines

As we speak, Stevens, who presently works as a Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) scout, and one in every of his board members, Michael Hamrock, MD, a main care and dependancy drugs physician at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a novel therapeutic technique to the listing of choices for folks in restoration.

Known as the DOER (Canine Possession Enhancing Restoration) program, a skilled assist canine — on this case, a golden retriever named Sawyer — can be despatched to reside with 12 males residing in a sober dwelling within the Boston space, in a program that’s the primary of its form within the U.S.

“For the whole lot of my observe, my sufferers have advised me again and again how a lot their pet canine have improved their bodily and psychological well being, so I believed we should always add this to one in every of our choices,” Hamrock says. “I do know this may assist.”

The day Sawyer was launched to the residents as a part of a pilot program was a joyful one, Hamrock says.

“We introduced Sawyer to the yard and, whereas on a leash, he went to every resident individually,” he says. “They began patting him and taking part in with him. I may see the large delight of their eyes.”

The purpose: So as to add extra canine to this system, over time.

“I imagine conferences, drugs, religious care and having a sponsor assist with restoration,” he says. “However canine can present security, stop loneliness, make it easier to reestablish relationships, make it easier to discover goal and worth and provide unconditional love.”

And with overdose deaths within the U.S. reaching file ranges final 12 months, Hamrock says the time is now to persevering with innovating.

“We all know the chance elements for coronary heart illness, however we’d like a greater understanding of the mind illness of dependancy,” he says, noting that the acronym GAMES gives a great way to quantify the 5 danger elements: G (genes), A (age of first drug use), M (handled or untreated psychological well being points), E (publicity to opioids as a remedy for, say, persistent ache) and S (stress, particularly from hostile childhood occasions) is an efficient technique to quantify danger elements.

However a well-trained canine can mitigate a few of these elements.

“We all know canine can scale back stress and improve psychological well being,” he says. “We additionally know that pet canine can assist with accountability, create a caring surroundings, and fill the void of nurturing. We will actually see a distinction.”

Ask Stevens and he’ll inform you he’s enthusiastic about how service canine may play a task in serving to addicts keep in restoration.

“I believe what Michael is doing is fairly neat,” he says. “When he introduced this concept to the desk, it made sense. Canines are so nice for folks they usually’re that shiny spot in your day. Providing these residents the prospect to handle one thing will make all of the distinction.”

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