Six Nations women “Bridging the Gap” to recovery

BRANTFORD – A pilot project called Bridging the Gap has brought a holistic approach to the recovery from drug addiction.

Six Nations holistic consultants Michelle Thomas and Jane Burning have linked arms with the Towards Recovery Methadone clinic in Brantford to offer a cultural element to the recovery process. Although not exclusive to First Nations clients, the program is for those who hold a belief in a naturopathic way to wholeness.

Bridging the Gap is an eight-week program that guides a client through a recovery path that includes interactive activities, traditional teachings, life skills development, trust building, self-discovery and meditation along with one-on-one healing sessions.

“I am passionate about creating opportunities for people to decolonize their minds to assist in recovering their true selves,” said Thomas, co-founder of Bridging the Gap, along with her sister, Burning, a certified social service worker.

The program has opened its doors at the Brantford methadone clinic, which operates out of the George Street entrance in the rear of St. Andrews Church, across from the Joseph Brant memorial in Victoria Park, Brantford.

“Our program works towards purity of the soul without religious denominations,” said Burning.

Once signed up, the client must commit to attend all eight weeks of the program.

One can apply for one of 10 available spots in the program by dropping into 95 Darling St. in Brantford and ask for Lisa or Michelle at the Brantford Towards Recovery Clinic.

“Many of our clients are suffering from some form of emotional trauma and mental health issues, sexual abuse, and homelessness as well as addictions,” said Burning. “Bridging the Gap will help them get reconnected with themselves again.”

Burning believes that a person’s susceptibility to addiction can be detected even by the age of four. That doesn’t mean they will be addicted, but are a higher risk than some others might be.

“Drugs take the spirit away,” said Burning. “But those who do not understand the nature of addiction might say, just go and get straight. It’s not that easy, especially with the stigma attached to it.”

Although the road to recovery is not a smooth or an easy one, Thomas and Burning have great empathy for the client, but admitting you have a problem is the first step in any recovery program.

“There is no B.S. here,” she said. “There is accountability and responsibility for those ready to make a change.”

Relapses are an unfortunate reality in this or any program, but some have found, even through several starts, that road to a new life and a fresh start.

Jeff Spence, Director of Community Outreach for the Towards Recovery Clinic, is very pleased to be offering this new approach to healing.

“It just makes sense to care for the mind, body, spirit and soul,” he said. “There is a doctor here six days a week and an in-house pharmacy here as well as trained counsellors.”

Statistics have shown that as many as 10 per cent of those living on reserves are actively seeking help and on August Bridging the Gap is there to help.

For many, methadone is a steppingstone to get off of hard drugs. Methadone is in the Opioid drug family and is effective for many users of synthetic opioids like codeine, and natural opioids like morphine and heroin.

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