An NHL Legend, A Doctor & a Dog Help Addicts Find 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 recognized for being a Pittsburgh Penguin throughout 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 previous and made “one dangerous choice” one evening.

“I had by no means achieved medication 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 sometimes well-publicized battle for sobriety with many challenges alongside the way in which, together with an opioid dependancy due to an enormous hockey damage (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 way of Power Forward, a nonprofit he began in 2018 that’s centered on elevating consciousness about dependancy.

Convey on the Canines

At this time, Stevens, who at present works as a Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) scout, and one among his board members, Michael Hamrock, MD, a major care and dependancy medication physician at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a novel therapeutic methodology to the checklist of choices for individuals in restoration.

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

“For everything of my apply, my sufferers have informed me over and over how a lot their pet canine have improved their bodily and mental health, so I assumed we must always add this to one among 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 taking part in with him. I may see the great delight of their eyes.”

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

“I imagine conferences, drugs, non secular care and having a sponsor assist with restoration,” he says. “However canine can present security, stop loneliness, show you how to reestablish relationships, show you how to discover goal 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 components 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 threat components: 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 adversarial childhood occasions) is an effective technique to quantify threat components.

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

“We all know canine can reduce stress and improve psychological well being,” he says. “We additionally know that pet canine may help with accountability, create a caring setting, 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 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. Canines are so nice for individuals they usually’re that vibrant spot in your day. Providing these residents the prospect to deal with one thing will make all of the distinction.”

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