Friday, April 26, 2019
Hockey fans will remember Nilan as a bruising, fan-favourite with the Montreal Canadiens where he spent the majority of his 16 NHL seasons, winning a Stanley Cup in 1986.
The Boston, MA product now hosts a radio show on TSN 690 Montreal and also works in the Recovery field as a trained interventionist.
But what most people don't know - and I certainly didn't - is that Nilan is 8-years sober from intravenous heroin addiction, along with alcohol and other drugs. His rock bottom came in a Boston hotel bathroom where he overdosed. When he awoke, he made the decision which would ultimately save his life and that was to reach out for help.
In this podcast interview Nilan details his Recovery story, what life was like before and what it's like now, and delivers a message to the still-suffering alcoholic/addict.
The Pedersen Recovery Podcast features names from the sports and entertainment fields detailing their Recovery stories from addiction and mental illness.
Click below to hear Knuckles' Nilan's Recovery story:
Sunday, April 21, 2019
By: Darcie Khounnoraj
"The conflict is that so many people will show up and listen to you speak about the Roughriders, they all yell and scream and go crazy and that's good, but the recovery/mental health aspect isn't as sexy or glamorous so it's a quieter group, yet you're having a bigger impact," Rod Pedersen, known as the Voice of the Riders, shared in Kipling, SK this month how he uses his voice to help those with addictions and mental illness versus the play-by-play commentary. "The only problem that I have is that I wish more people would speak up because addictions and mental health affect everybody in some way but nobody wants to talk about it."
Rod Pedersen kept the target audience up to date across Saskatchewan for 30 years with the play-by-play commentary for sports fans. Visiting the Kipling community, Pedersen presented his story to more than 120 people at the Kipling Community Centre on Sunday, March 31 sponsored by Kipling Ministerial and Gee Bee Construction.
On Monday, April 1, the Kipling School students (grades 7-12) listened attentively to Pedersen as he spoke of his struggles with alcoholism and the detrimental state of his well-being and the divide in his family while he lived with his addiction.
"I couldn't wait to get to Kipling because this is what my passion is now. I still do the sports banquets because they help raise money in communities, but I'd rather do this!" Pedersen smiled. "If somebody asks me to speak on Recovery, I will show up and speak. Because I'm so new at it, we'll find out in the years ahead what the impact is because I don't know what impact it is having (right now).
"The reason why I'm getting so many opportunities to speak is because it's very rare for somebody to stand in front of a room and say what all their deficiencies have been as a human being - it's so rare - but I don't mind because the worst is over for me as far as I'm concerned!"
Pedersen stated, "I used to have to drink six beer in a half an hour before I went on stage but about 5-6 months into recovery - with alcohol no longer an option - I found a new way to deal with the stress of public speaking. I didn't have that anxiety anymore 'cause I found the tools in recovery to do it. So that was a big change in me. The fact is there really isn't any stress at all. I created it in my head."
Pedersen has spoken to the public for more than three decades but it hasn't always been easy. As a child, Pedersen heard stories from his father who quit drinking 'cold turkey' when Rod was 2 years old. Pedersen spoke of how his father warned him of the dangers of drinking and smoking, noting that he avoided smoking because he disliked his father's bad habit - but drinking was another story.
Pedersen shared his own battles with anxiety, sleepwalking and moods that destroyed relationships and friendships - the early signs of addiction and mental illness.
As a young hockey player, Pedersen described himself as a person with big dreams in the sports industry, knowing early on that he wanted to be a voice heard on the radio. While attending college, his road to addiction began at parties equipped with a variety of drugs and alcohol, peer pressure and the idea of a carefree lifestyle. Although he stayed clear of the drug scene, Pedersen found himself in countless scenarios of blackouts and drunken state into his adult years.
Into his 30s, Pedersen admitted having a negative attitude about his life and the people he shared it with. He recalled a time when he was offered free bar tabs at party scenes just because of who he was.
"The opportunity was there and no one ever stopped me. One day I finally said 'now is the time - I'm going to be like Dad and stop (drinking). But I couldn't," Pedersen described. "It had me in its grasp. I felt trapped in alcoholism and it wasn't nice."
Pedersen admitted that there was a time in his life that he lost the will to live, stating 'I really didn't want to live but I really didn't want to die either.' He lost his ability to motivate himself in his career and personal life, his relationships with family depleted and his life was spiralling out of control.
"I got a prescription for anti-depressants but was never told to stop drinking. I found out that not a pill in the world would change my addiction or the mess I'd made of my life," Pedersen shared. "I had two options when I faced an intervention: Door A - accept the help, go into recovery and save my life or Door B - keep going the way I was going, but be terminated from my job and lose my family. I chose Door A."
While in recovery, Pedersen learned that he not only had an addiction, a disease, but that he also lived with a variety of mental illnesses. An assessment revealed depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and addiction. "It was a snapshot of my whole life," he said. "I wasn't angry when I found that out at all. It totally described my whole life to that point."
Now as a trained Interventionist, and through recovery, Pedersen has seen the worst of the worst. He advised that addictions come in all forms including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, video games and more. People become trapped in addictions due to boredom, stress, money issues, limited self-control and to escape their lives.
"People can see that you are struggling but until you decide that you don't want to live that way anymore, they can't really help you. You really have to want to turn your life around - the resources are there," Pedersen assured, adding that the support system also has to stay focused on recovery.
"When the family says enough is enough, they need to be a united front. If there is one weak link in the chain, everything goes down."
As a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist, Interventionist, Mental Health Advocate and Sober Coach, Rod Pedersen's voice will still be heard across the province, only now he speaks up for those with addictions and mental illness.
Sunday, April 14, 2019
By: Mathew Liebenberg
Swift Current Prairie Post
Sober Coach and Mental Health advocate Rod Pedersen hopes his personal journey of battling with alcoholism can make a difference to help others to find a way to recovery.
The Drug Strategy Action Committee in Swift Current hosted two events where the former voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders shared his story.
A community presentation took place during an evening event at Walker Place on April 7 and he spoke to Grade 9-12 students at Swift Current Comprehensive High School the following morning.
“I don’t find it difficult at all,” he said after his first presentation. “From the moment I gave my first speech about getting sober. You heard it, I lived 25 years in shame and guilt and I’m not going to live the next 25 that way. So if it helps somebody along the way I’m going to do it.”
He struggled with anxiety since a young age, but he only realized he was suffering from mental illness after he began his recovery. He discovered alcohol at the age of 16 and it became a magic tonic that made it easier to talk to people and also took away his anxious feelings and fears.
His drinking habits became worse over the years until his life was completely taken over by alcohol. An opportunity in 2014 to become the voice of the Calgary Flames never materialized because someone warned the team that he was an alcoholic. After that disappointment he drank even more and he received a warning at work, but it made no difference.
He had no more joy in life and went to see a doctor, who prescribed anti-depressants without addressing Pedersen’s excessive drinking. He started to use more pills than the prescribed dose, because he thought it will help him to feel better.
The use of anti-depressants and heavy drinking caused his rock bottom on Jan. 26, 2015 at the radio station, when he went on air in an intoxicated state. He was suspended and his first day of sobriety started the following day, when he was told to either get into recovery or lose his job.
He spoke for the first time in public about his alcohol addiction at a recovery day event in Regina in September 2016. He was surprised by the positive response and he was contacted by people from across Canada who told him how his story helped them not to drink.
Since then Pedersen has realized he can make a difference by sharing his story, and that there is no shame in doing it.
“The whole province knew I was a drunk,” he said. “So who cares if the whole province knows I got sober, and when you talk about the stories of losing my NHL dream because of alcohol, I look back and say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me years later, because it caused my rock bottom and got me into recovery. I am one of those guys that says everything happens for a reason and the past is the past. My regrets are behind me, and life’s great now and I would tell anybody just thinking about making a change like this, to do it, because I don’t regret stopping drinking, that’s for sure.”
He believes it is important to speak to young people about mental health issues and alcoholism, because he knows what that experience was like when he was their age.
“There weren’t the resources back then when I was a teenager, there just weren’t, but there are for kids now,” he said. “So the reason I’m talking to so many people, in particular young people, is I don’t want to see them lose their dreams and I definitely don’t want to see them lose whatever is dear to them, their families.”
He still remembers an important moment in his life when he was nine years old. A speaker at his school warned students not to do drugs, and that advice has prevented Pedersen from ever getting into drugs, even though there were many opportunities over the years.
“I lost enough, I didn’t lose it all, thank God,” he said. “But that guy, when I was nine, who told me not to do drugs, I don’t even know his name. He saved my life. If some kid can look back and say this guy one day in Swift Current told me this and that’s what I’m going to do and it changed my life, I would like to pay forward what he did for me.”
He did not plan to become a sober coach, but it happened and he is now the founder and CEO of Pedersen Recovery. He has a diploma as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist and he is a trained interventionist.
“When I was getting training in New York to be an interventionist I told the lady that was running it, I don’t belong here,” he recalled. “I’m a football announcer drunk from Canada, I don’t have 27 letters behind my name like all the other people here. And she said ‘You were invited here for a reason; this is happening in your life; get out of the way, let it happen.’”
Pedersen pointed to his “One Day at a Time” wrist bracelet, which symbolizes his approach to life since he started his recovery.
“Every dream, every goal I had I blew out of the water because of my own actions,” he said. “So everybody asks me now what’s your goal and I don’t have one. Every morning when I get up out of bed I try to be a good person. I help people and you know what, it’s going pretty good, but I don’t know what’s next. I didn’t plan to do any of these things that are happening in my life, but they feel good and I’m following with what feels good.”
He believes the legalization of cannabis was a bad decision, and he hopes the taxation revenue will be used to fund prevention and recovery programs. According to Pedersen there is still a shortage of aftercare programs in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in the country. The presence of sober homes in communities can make a difference to assist individuals with their recovery.
“They need to stay sober and they’re in a sober community with other residents, which is great,” he said. “It’s the best way to get sober, and as long as they’re sober they can live in there as long as they want, but if they relapse they get 15 minutes to get their stuff and move out.”
He hosts the Pedersen Recovery Podcast, which is also something he did not plan to do since he started his own recovery. He speaks at treatment recovery centres around the country and people suggested he should start a podcast.
“I started it with just people in sports and entertainment, and it ended up being some pretty big names telling their story of recovery,” he said. “All of a sudden they started playing these in treatment centres across the country to the members. It’s people telling their stories, and I know one thing. When public people come out with their stories of recovery, it makes the average Joe saying if he can do it, I can do it. I hear that all the time. I have people writing into me on Facebook saying if it’s cool for Rod Pedersen to be sober, it’s cool for me to be sober. So doing those interviews helps me stay sober, and what I hear is that it helps others.”
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
|With Health Minister Jim Reiter|
Saskatchewan's government is putting $30 million more toward mental health and addictions in 2019-20.
About half of that money — $13.7 million — is going toward North Battleford's new Saskatchewan Hospital, which offers long term psychiatric rehabilitation.
The federal government has also contributed $6.25 million, bringing the Ministry of Health's total dollars for mental health and addictions to $402 million in 2019-20.
"We just think we need to do better on the whole mental health front and this is, I would say, a huge step forward," Health Minister Jim Reiter said.
He said the budget includes "the largest commitment ever to mental health services in our province."
Reiter highlighted more beds, extra staff and new mental health clinics as some of the province's key areas of spending.
The province has also sectioned off $1 million for harm reduction initiatives.
The government outlined the plans for new beds in its release:
- About 75 new residential support beds for people transitioning from hospital back into the community
- About 50 pre and post-addiction treatment beds for people moving between detox and in-patient treatment or back to the community
- 10 new in-patient addiction treatment beds at Pine Lodge in Indian Head
- Six new inpatient addiction treatment beds at Calder Centre in Saskatoon
- Six new in-patient addictions beds for youth in southern Saskatchewan
Opposition says dollars don't go the distance
NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon welcomed the "smart investment," but said this is just a start.
"It's certainly not going the distance to the level that Sask people need and deserve," Wotherspoon said.
He said the province still has a long way to go when it comes to closing the gaps for timely supports and services.
"We need to realize that we have a crystal meth crisis across this province that's ravaging people's lives and families and communities," he said.
"The kind of detox and rehab that's needed there is a longer duration."
The province is putting $1.5 million in funding to turn the temporary Mental Health Assessment Unit in Saskatoon permanent as a Mental Health Short Stay Unit.
It has seven beds and will provide people with acute mental health care needs up to seven days of care. The province had previously indicated it intended to close the temporary unit, causing concern amongst mental health advocates.
'It was awful in the ER': Mental health advocates push for permanent Saskatoon assessment unit
The new budget also allots $1.6 million to start up three "Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine Clinics" in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
Sask. seeking new hires
The province said it is looking to hire more staff to provide mental health and addictions treatment.
The province hopes to use $1.1 million to hire up to 12 full-time staff to help kids and youth who need mental health care. It is also allotting $650,000 to hire up to seven primary care counsellors. More than 139,000 people in the province seek care every year from counsellors like this, often for anxiety and depression.
It alloted $515,000 to hire an unspecified number of pediatric nurses and social workers at the not-yet-open Jim Pattison Children's Hospital emergency department.
The province is putting $300,000 to help the La Ronge Detox Centre provide 24/7 nursing support.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
It's our first Pedersen Recovery Podcast of 2019 and we're pleased to welcome former NHL goaltender, current Vancouver Canucks broadcaster, and Mental Health Advocate Corey Hirsch!
I'd known - and known of - Corey Hirsch for quite some time. We're the same age, he's from Medicine Hat, AB, and I'd followed his illustrious playing career through his stops in Kamloops, Vancouver, New York, Washington, Dallas and Team Canada.
It was a pleasure to finally meet "Hirschy" in the living room of our mutual friend Curtis Hunt in Regina 10 or so years ago. At the time, Corey was working as a goalie coach.
But what really got my attention - and dropped my jaw - was Corey's raw column on his Mental Health battle on the popular website The Players Tribune two years ago. The courage Corey displayed in telling his story was remarkable, but it was equally sad to hear what he'd gone through including an attempt to take his own life.
Happily, Corey came out on the other side and lived to tell the tale after reaching out for assistance. Now he's sharing his story and doing his best to help others.
Here for you in our latest Recovery Podcast is Corey Hirsch telling his own personal story of battling Mental Illness, and he hopes to help others who might be battling the same thing.
Give it a listen here:
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