Windsor graduate finds hope after RE/ACT addiction and trauma recovery program

“I lived with mental health. I have (borderline personality disorder), anxiety and depression,” says Vanessa Copeland.

Copeland, 33, says she has been dealing with anger, weight issues, substance and alcohol abuse for most of her life.

“I was trying very desperately in every way with the comforts of another person, or with drug use or alcohol use whatever I was doing -- even food I used -- were all the choices I was making to try to fix, I didn’t even know what the problem was,” she says.

“Over 90 per cent of addicts had childhood trauma. So for them the addiction was actually a solution for their trauma,” explains Tim Fletcher, founder of RE/ACT treatment program.

Nothing she tried worked, until recently when Copeland found RE/ACT Windsor Essex.

“You’re always going to have trauma, it happened to you. It’s what you do with that is sometimes you need help,” says Copeland.

RE/ACT stands for recovery education for addictions and complex trauma. The program aims to address the root of addiction problems.

“It’s a whole new way of understanding addiction which is leading to understanding treatment of addiction,” says Fletcher.

The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid & Substance Strategy group has already issued more than double the alerts compared to 2020.

“Hopefully we are providing a way people will begin to find a solution to that crisis,“ says Fletcher.

The 12-week, out-patient program is a free service offered through the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative.

“It covers a variety of things from addictions to substance abuse, alcohol, weight issues -- a variety of issues that trauma shows up in our lives,” says Bob Cameron, director of RE/ACT Windsor Essex.

“Our success rate has been over 50 per cent which has been surprising, shocking, but shows when you deal with the root issues and help people heal and learn how to cope in healthy ways that it makes a huge difference because now they don’t need their drugs to cope,” says Fletcher.

After graduating from RE/ACT last month, Copeland hopes to one day help mentor others in the program.

“I’m excited. It’s not like any other therapy and I think that’s what’s important,” explains Copland. “Even if there is one person out of a bunch of people that I talk to and facilitate who actually get it and it clicks, it might be a chain reaction.”