Jesse Sokol has struggled with a cocaine addiction for more than 20 years of his life.
Now 37, he was about 13-years-old when he started doing drugs after moving to Surrey with his mother from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
He simply got in with the wrong crowd.
“Things were really accessible, and I was in the mindset that I would try anything once. And, then, that specific drug came about and I tried it and I was immediately hooked,” explained Sokol.
Sokol moved to Maple Ridge in July, 2019, when he finally started treatment at the Maple Ridge Treatment Centre, MRTC.
It was during his treatment there he realized there was a difference between what the men shared with the group, and how they actually lived their lives.
One of the men Sokol attended group meetings with, Sal Loeppky, told the group he had been banned from a recovery Facebook group because of comments he made not conforming to the 12-Step program.
So, Sokol and Loeppky got together and decided to start their own Facebook group called Non-Judgmental Recovery in August 2019, with the goal of supporting individuals, both men and women, from a variety of recovery programs.
“To have a safe, supportive place without judgment to share whatever it is you are going through,” explained Sokol.
As the group grew, Sokol saw some of the members struggling with various recovery therapies – some not finding any recovery meetings where they felt comfortable, connected or supported.
So, Sokol joined forces with Dena Jones, another member of the Non-Judgmental Recovery Facebook group, to create a society in order to be able to hold in-person meetings.
Both Sokol and Jones stress that the Non-Judgmental Recovery Society is a universal approach to recovery.
They believe there is value to all recovery programs and will support anyone, wherever they are at in their recovery process, respecting their choice of what their recovery looks like.
“We’re not going to tell you how to do it. We can only tell you what we’ve done and have a variety of people sharing about different programs and what works for them,” she added.
Jones describes the Non-Judgmental Recovery Society as a “catch-all” for people who feel they are not getting the support and connection they require to stay clean and sober.
And, she said, they will support a person wherever they need it. For example, when it comes to harm-reduction, Jones said, if a person is trying to get off heroin but still drinks alcohol, they will be supported.
“I’m not saying you have to be 100 per cent abstinent from every mind-altering substance,” noted Jones.
“Whatever the one you want to work on now, that’s the one we are going to help you with,” she said.
And, Jones said, even if a person doesn’t know what program to enter, their Facebook page has information on everything from mental health and housing to any recovery group that is out there.
“What makes us different is that we support all of the ones that are out there,” said Sokol.
“Our idea is to bring them all together because we’ve noticed the stigma in each of them,” he said, describing some of the recovery programs as “extremely judgmental”.
Now the group is holding recovery meetings at the CEED Centre, currently limited to 10 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also do outreach in partnership with the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.
They are currently working on becoming incorporated and getting their charitable status.
Their Facebook group now has 442 members.
Non-Judgmental Recovery meetings take place every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the CEED Centre Garden at 11739 223 St. in Maple Ridge. Masks are mandatory and reservations must made by calling or texting 236-838-6562.
The group is also conducting Zoom meetings every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. For meeting information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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