Addict's Story Highlights Unregulated Recovery Homes, Services

After 20 years of helping others battle their addictions, Mike Pond succumbed to his own.

It was 2008, and he had lost everything to alcoholism: his psychotherapy practice in Kelowna, his wife, his three sons, his house, even his driver's licence.

“I was a high-profile individual in my community, so as my drinking progressed I really had to hide it,” Pond, now 60, recalls. “I was in my office all day, doing my therapy with families and couples, and by about three or four o’clock all I could think about was getting a drink. And then I would finish, close up the office, and go down the back door and find my bottle that I had stashed. I had this real double life.”

In the throes of his disease, Pond hopped on a Greyhound to Vancouver, eventually landing at an unlicensed, unregulated, rat-infested recovery home in White Rock. It was there that he slept on what the home called the Couch of Willingness, a dirty old sofa that smelled of urine and puke, thus beginning his long and painful road to recovery.

“The shame and the stigma that’s associated with this is probably the main thing that kept me drunk,” Pond, originally from New Brunswick, told The Huffington Post B.C.

Pond has told this two-year journey in a new book called “The Couch of Willingness: An Alcoholic Therapist Battles the Bottle and a Broken Recovery System.” It details his time in more than one unlicensed recovery home, as well as being homeless in the Downtown Eastside, relapses, and a suicide attempt.

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