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

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 recognized for being a Pittsburgh Penguin through the crew’s Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992.

However the Bostonian can be a recovering addict whose life modified dramatically when he was 28 years outdated and made “one dangerous choice” one night time.

“I had by no means accomplished 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 solid a protracted and sometimes 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 Power Forward, a nonprofit he began in 2018 that’s targeted on elevating consciousness about dependancy.

Carry on the Canine

In the present day, Stevens, who at the moment works as a Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) scout, and one in all his board members, Michael Hamrock, MD, a main care and dependancy medication physician at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a singular therapeutic technique to the listing of choices for folks in restoration.

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

“For the whole lot of my apply, my sufferers have advised me over and over how a lot their pet canines have improved their bodily and mental health, so I assumed we should always add this to one in all our choices,” Hamrock says. “I do know it will 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 enjoying with him. I may see the large delight of their eyes.”

The aim: So as to add extra canines to this system, over time.

“I imagine conferences, drugs, non secular care and having a sponsor assist with restoration,” he says. “However canines can present security, stop loneliness, allow you to reestablish relationships, allow you to discover objective and worth and provide unconditional love.”

And with overdose deaths within the U.S. reaching record levels last year, 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 affords a great way to quantify the 5 threat elements: G (genes), A (age of first drug use), M (handled or untreated mental health points), E (publicity to opioids as a remedy for, say, chronic pain) and S (stress, particularly from opposed childhood occasions) is an efficient solution to quantify threat elements.

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

“We all know canines can reduce stress and improve psychological well being,” he says. “We additionally know that pet canines will help with accountability, create a caring atmosphere, 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 canines would possibly play a task in serving to addicts keep in restoration.

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

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