Trilogy House president Susan Sanderson stands with her house manager Gord (left) and clients (left to right) Steve and Devinder.

From death’s edge to new hope

Steve was planning to commit suicide a few weeks ago after being bounced around six sketchy recovery homes

Sunday, May 10 – Mother’s Day – Steve resolved to toss himself in front of an oncoming semi-truck on the King George Boulevard.

The 37-year-old addict had burned through three marriages, alienated his family, and had few people in the world who trusted him.

With good reason – he’d stolen from most of them.

For about 20 years, Steve battled with addiction to “crack, speed, weed and alcohol.”

His life had long since spiralled out of control, despite many efforts to stop the plunge.

Steve had been to half-a-dozen Surrey recovery homes looking or help.

Shortly after arriving at his first, he found that drugs were being dealt freely within the home.

There was a strict rule to take the pot down the block and use it there, so as not to bring heat on the house.

The first house he got into was run by his brother-in-law, who was dealing drugs. Steve was soon helping him distribute.

After some time, police descended on the home and his brother-in-law was arrested and thrown in jail.

Steve was back out on the street.

The next five homes were similar, some of which Steve ended up managing while using drugs and dealing to clients.

The drugs flowed freely and recovery wasn’t part of the routine, even though the place was described as a recovery home.

For a drug addict meaning to stay in his disease, this is Nirvana.

For someone looking to get well, it’s pure hell.

On May 10, Steve wandered out to the King George Boulevard to end the cycle of abuse and self-loathing.

For reasons he still can’t explain, he instead took a turn to a home of one of his last remaining friends, a woman who just lost her husband, also a friend of Steve’s.

He told her about his plan and she began to cry. She explained that would be the last thing her late partner would have wanted.

One last shot at recovery landed him at Trilogy House, run by the Realistic Success Recovery Society (RSRS).

It was started by the late Gary Robinson, who was once a Surrey city councillor, and it continues under the direction of Robinson’s widow, Susan Sanderson.

RSRS is also the first organization in the province to be registered under the province’s 2012 mental health and substance use regulations.

Sanderson takes pride in how the three houses are run, and as her late husband did, focuses solely on recovery.

There are strict rules of conduct; clients surrender their phones for the first little while and are expected to keep their rooms tidy. They are expected to stay there about a year, and while there, learn life skills they’ll take out into the world when they’ve stabilized.

This is new for Steve, and he feels like there’s been a shift.

Although he’s only been clean and sober for 17 days, he has a whole new perspective.

“I listen. I don’t want to die today,” he says. “I want to see 40.”

Learn about the history of recovery homes in Surrey: The rocky road to regulation.