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U-Turn raises addiction awareness with walk, information session

U-Turn Drop-In Centre executive director Jeffrey Bourne speaks during a national addictions week information session at the Knights of Columbus last Tuesday.
U-Turn Drop-In Centre executive director Jeffrey Bourne speaks during a national addictions week information session at the Knights of Columbus last Tuesday.

There was a time when the U-Turn Drop-In Centre’s reputation wasn’t held in the highest regard.

It was several years ago and drug addiction had yet to come out of the darkness in the Conception Bay North region. Addiction was on the rise and people felt like U-Turn was doing more harm than good.

“When we first started, someone approached us and said we had created a monster in the community,” said U-Turn executive director Jeffrey Bourne. “Tammy (Bourne’s wife) said, ‘The monster is already here, we just have it out of the closet.’

“Addiction has been around here for a long time. When I started my recovery 11 years go, it was bad then. But, it’s gone beyond now.”

It was several years ago and drug addiction had yet to come out of the darkness in the Conception Bay North region. Addiction was on the rise and people felt like U-Turn was doing more harm than good.

“When we first started, someone approached us and said we had created a monster in the community,” said U-Turn executive director Jeffrey Bourne. “Tammy (Bourne’s wife) said, ‘The monster is already here, we just have it out of the closet.’

“Addiction has been around here for a long time. When I started my recovery 11 years go, it was bad then. But, it’s gone beyond now.”

Judging by the people who came out to it’s awareness night at the Knights of Columbus in Carbonear last Tuesday, there’s been an attitude change regarding the work Bourne, his wife Tammy and others at the centre do for those in need of help. U-Turn helps thousands of people a year by guiding them on their road to recovery.

The centre kicked off national addictions week last Tuesday with a walk to raise awareness for the issue in the region.

More than 50 people left the U-Turn building on Powell Drive and made the 15-minute walk to the Knights of Columbus building. Surrounded by emergency vehicles, the large group was a mixture of young, old, families, community figures and others hoping to raise the centre’s profile and the work they do to help people struggling with any number of addictions.

Once, Bourne turned around to see how many were taking part in the walk and he was surprised to see so many people walking with him.

“I thought it was a huge success,” he told The Compass afterwards. “I thought we’d get 15 or 20, but when I looked back and saw 40-odd … it was really good. I was shocked but I’m glad people are coming out and speaking about addiction.”

The U-Turn addictions centre in Carbonear hosts a Narcotics Anonymous meeting every week for those affected by the drug abuse of family members.

When the walk reached its final destination, the night did not end there. Coupling with the Open-Door Ministries, U-Turn held an information session for anyone involved.

There were speakers from the Grace Centre in Harbour Grace, the RCMP, health professionals and others who touched on what they see in the area when it comes to addiction and where people can turn to get help.

“At least today, we’re talking about addiction,” said community policing officer John Clarke. “Having 50 people walk tonight is saying, ‘We’re hear and we want to fix this’ and I think that’s great and awesome thing to do.”

Bourne hesitated to call the meeting call to action for people who want to help eradiate addiction. He pointed to some of the excellent programs being offered by the provincial government and other community groups that are helping in the fight.

He’d still like to see more done and implores those struggling to seek out any help they can get.

“For us, speaking out and raising awareness around addiction … I always say this is a community thing,” said Bourne. “We’ve got to come together as the community of Conception Bay North and start raising awareness around addiction.

“It affects everyone. It’s a disease. Help is out there.”

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

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