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 through the workforce’s Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992.

However the Bostonian can also be a recovering addict whose life modified dramatically when he was 28 years outdated and made “one unhealthy determination” one evening.

“I had by no means accomplished medication 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 following 24 years.”

Stevens solid a protracted and infrequently well-publicized battle for sobriety with many challenges alongside the best way, together with an opioid dependancy due to an enormous hockey harm (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 by means of Energy Ahead, a nonprofit he began in 2018 that’s centered on elevating consciousness about dependancy.

Convey on the Canine

In the present day, Stevens, who at the moment works as a Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) scout, and one in all his board members, Michael Hamrock, MD, a main care and dependancy medication physician at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a singular therapeutic methodology to the listing of choices for individuals in restoration.

Referred to as the DOER (Canine Possession Enhancing Restoration) program, a skilled assist canine — on this case, a golden retriever named Sawyer — will likely be despatched to stay 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 follow, my sufferers have informed me again and again how a lot their pet canine have improved their bodily and psychological well being, so I assumed we must always add this to one in all 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 taking part in 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, medicines, non secular care and having a sponsor assist with restoration,” he says. “However canine can present security, forestall loneliness, make it easier to reestablish relationships, make it easier to discover objective and worth and provide unconditional love.”

And with overdose deaths within the U.S. reaching report ranges final yr, Hamrock says the time is now to persevering with innovating.

“We all know the chance elements for coronary heart illness, however we’d like a greater understanding of the mind illness of dependancy,” he says, noting that the acronym GAMES presents a great way to quantify the 5 danger elements: G (genes), A (age of first drug use), M (handled or untreated psychological well being points), E (publicity to opioids as a remedy for, say, continual ache) and S (stress, particularly from opposed childhood occasions) is an effective method to quantify danger elements.

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

“We all know canine can scale back stress and improve psychological well being,” he says. “We additionally know that pet canine will help with accountability, create a caring setting, 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 may play a task 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. Canine are so nice for individuals they usually’re that vivid spot in your day. Providing these residents the possibility to maintain one thing will make all of the distinction.”

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