Addiction is a mental health issue capable of destroying careers, relationships and physical health. Calgary’s Fresh Start Recovery Centre is giving men and their families a way out.

Beyond acting as a support system, the people running the program also have direct experience with addiction and recovery.

Editor’s Note: This podcast episode contains mild profanity.

Stacey Peterson, the executive director of the recovery centre, said he grew up in an alcoholic environment and a home filled with physical violence.

“The police were out on the lawn once a month,” Peterson said.

“I had issues far before I ever picked up [alcohol or drugs],” he said. “I never felt like I fit, regardless of where I was. I always felt ‘less-than.’ I always felt different. And then I found alcohol — I was about nine years old.”

BruceWeb2Bruce Holstead, the director of operations at Calgary’s Fresh Start Recovery Centre, says he enjoys working in a position that allows him to give back to the community he previously took from. Photo by Isabelle Bennett.

Bruce Holstead, Fresh Start’s director of operations, said he started “dabbling” with marijuana and alcohol when he was around 12 or 13 years old, transitioning to injectable drugs shortly after.

“Addiction for me took an exceptionally-aggressive path in a very hurried state,” Holstead said.

With help from friends and families along with rehabilitation programs, both men were able to begin the process of recovery and say they haven’t used since.

Now, they are giving back the acceptance and assistance that was given to them through Fresh Start.

“It is completely possible not to regret the past or wish to shut the door on it, and be able to use your experience, no matter how far down the scale you’ve gone, to benefit others,” Peterson said.

In partnership with the Calgary Canadian Mental Health Association, we’re publishing podcasts and news stories about mental health issues in our city. Track these stories using #CalgaryJournalHealth.,

Editor: Nathan Kunz |

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