Harold Vanattan credits Mission Services London for saving his life.
Now 41 and living in London, he remembers growing up in Toronto with an alcoholic mother who was severely abused by his father, who was in and out of his life.
Vanattan started using cocaine at 16 and became a real addict at 25, he said. When he asked the London Mission for help, he said: “I was really broken and scared.”
Called Quintin Warner House, Mission Services of London is a center on Queens Ave. which helps prevent men from using drugs and alcohol. He will be celebrating 50 years of drug treatment this week.
The mission helps through a residential program that offers a stay of four to five months. It also offers community support after the men’s release.
“It’s really about helping our guys give them ongoing support to help them get back into the community,” said Jon DeActis, Mission Director.
To understand the source of their addictions, the mission helps uncover the traumas many men have faced in their lives.
“We’re a trauma-informed program so we’re dealing with a lot of things that have happened in the past for the guys that are coming in. . . “said DeActis.
“But even as a program, we struggle to find psychiatrists to help us,” he said, adding that mental health and addiction go hand in hand.
He recalled that when the program began, many veterans with alcoholism were visiting the mission. Now he sees a younger crowd, between the ages of 20 and 30, dealing with addictions often linked to mental health issues.
“It is important that men continue to feel connected to the community” when they leave the mission, said DeActis.
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What: London Missionary Services
When: Friday, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Or: Dundas Street United Church, 482 Dundas Street