An NHL Legend, A Doctor & a Dog Help Addicts Find 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 in the course of 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However the Bostonian can be a recovering addict whose life modified dramatically when he was 28 years outdated and made “one unhealthy resolution” one evening.

“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 an extended and sometimes well-publicized battle for sobriety with many challenges alongside the way in which, together with an opioid habit 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 via Power Forward, a nonprofit he began in 2018 that’s targeted on elevating consciousness about habit.

Carry on the Canines

Right now, Stevens, who at present works as a Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) scout, and one among his board members, Michael Hamrock, MD, a main care and habit drugs physician at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a novel therapeutic technique to the record of choices for folks in restoration.

Referred to as the DOER (Canine Possession Enhancing Restoration) program, a educated assist canine — on this case, a golden retriever named Sawyer — might 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 variety within the U.S.

“For the whole lot of my observe, my sufferers have instructed me time and again how a lot their pet canine have improved their bodily and mental health, so I believed we should always add this to one among 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 enjoying with him. I may see the large delight of their eyes.”

The objective: 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, forestall loneliness, aid you reestablish relationships, aid you discover function and worth and supply 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 want a greater understanding of the mind illness of habit,” he says, noting that the acronym GAMES presents 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 therapy for, say, chronic pain) and S (stress, particularly from adversarial childhood occasions) is an effective solution to quantify threat elements.

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

“We all know canine can reduce stress and improve psychological well being,” he says. “We additionally know that pet canine will help with accountability, create a caring atmosphere, and fill the void of nurturing. We are able to actually see a distinction.”

Ask Stevens and he’ll let you know he’s enthusiastic about how service canine would possibly play a job 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 vivid spot in your day. Providing these residents the prospect to handle one thing will make all of the distinction.”

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