The Psalm 23 Transition Society has helped Marcus Reich kick his addiction and rebuild his self-esteem. Now, after graduating from the treatment program in July, the Lone Butte man hopes to give back to others by becoming a mentor and member of the 59 Mile-based society.
“I want to help the other men. I want to be there for them, support them, because I did it and I know they can do it,” Reich says. “It’s just being there and being supportive of them during their walk, their journey.”
Psalm 23 was started by Marvin Declare, the centre’s executive director, who had a vision about wanting to help individuals at a deeper level while working at the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver. Although the 12-step program is faith-based, meaning they have Church and Bible studies, Declare says participants do not have to be believers to join. The aim is more focused on helping people find out what’s blocking them off from receiving help and finding their purpose in life.
Reich says he first found out about Psalm 23 through a family friend while he was going through some “pretty rough times in [his] life.” He had spent a lot of hours trying to kick his addiction on his own, and although he says he was in control of his life, he came to the realization he couldn’t do it alone.
“Deep down inside, I knew I needed to go. I didn’t want to go, but I knew I had to and I knew that I needed help,” Reich says. “It was the best thing I ever did. It was quite challenging, I had difficulties, but I was able to persevere and face my fears and my pain and work through them.”
Declare, who himself has been clean for 23 years, says Psalm 23 addresses the core reasons why people use and behave the way they do. It’s unfortunate, he adds, but many people with addictions are also often dealing with mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and abandonment issues.
“We have these voids in our life, losses, people that we’ve loved who have passed away,” he says.
When men arrive at the facility, they experience loneliness and sadness right away because they’re isolated from distractions, Declare adds. This allows his team to work more deeply with them in a structured process that is designed to help them struggle with the idea of “What do you do to promote the changing?”
“In the counselling format, it’s really about teaching these men that you can’t pray it or wish it away,” Declare says. “Whatever happens to you, positive or negative, is a part of you for the rest of your life. Our purpose is to try and teach you how to live with that in your life. It’s like a hula hoop. You’re only responsible for what’s in your hula hoop.”
There is a way out, Reich says, and people just have to work to reach it. Slowing down and not setting unreasonably high expectations for himself, and taking it day by day, made the program start to work for him.
“Like Marvin says, the program is really designed to make your struggle. It did for me because it made me face these things in my life that were holding me back.”
“We tell families that you’re going to get a new son,” Declare says. “It’s about them developing a new relationship with themselves so they can start to love and care for themselves, which allows for other relationships.” Watching people like Reich turn their lives around is the most rewarding part of his work.
The program encourages participants to give back to their community and help to lift other program members up, as Reich intends to do. He says stepping into a leadership role has been something he’s especially liked, and it’s giving him a reason to keep growing and learning.
“I’d like to get into the ministry and become a pastor one day. This is something I believe God has opened the door for me, to be able to help others and learn more. To be there to help and give back.”
To learn more about Psalm 23, call Declare at (604) 835-0855 or (250) 459-2220, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.