As of November I’ll have been sober for five years. I credit my sobriety to many things; Alcoholics Anonymous is what got me on the right track, and I’m forever grateful for it and the people in it, but it’s not the only thing that has kept me sober, kept me strong.
I had a wonderful therapist, supportive family and friends, a very wise sponsor, my own willpower, and I truly believe that writing about my journey in recovery – owning my disease and wearing it like I would my job, my asthma or any other thing that makes me me – helped me stay strong and get comfortable with my new reality and routine.
Like a healthy diet, recovery is about balance. (And no, I’m not a doctor, or an expert, or someone with 25 years of sobriety. But I have an opinion.) Sometimes we need more iron, other times calls for a surge of Vitamin C, but on a daily basis, if we keep our plates colourful and eat 3x a day, then we’re probably getting the nutrients we need.
In dealing with my alcoholism and its underlying issues, there are times when I absolutely need a meeting. There are other times when a good walk in the fresh air will do the trick, and other times when I could benefit from sixty minutes spewing my mental clutter to a medical professional. Many would not agree with my somewhat relaxed approach to health and wellness, but it has served me well thus far. And that’s not to say it would work for you, but I believe in discussing the fact that therapy and healing looks different for everyone. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to creating a circle of support, and it’s all about finding the combination that works for you.
Given my philosophy, I was quite intrigued about Helix Healthcare, a centre in Toronto (now with two locations) that is rooted in a similar philosophy. Founded by addicts (but not just addicts, because no one is ever just an addict. They are 10, 000 other things! Let’s say: forward-thinking, intelligent individuals who have experienced addiction issues), Helix combines a balanced approach to recovery, creating a program that addresses both mental and physical wellness through personalized care. They are not a substitute for a 12-step program (many of the patients are in 12-step recovery), nor are they a substitute for your physician, but they do offer open-minded therapy for addicts and anyone who could benefit.
Since I know a lot of addicts, alcoholics, and people who are dealing with anxiety, PTSD, loss, and grief, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and find out more about this centre that is doing things very differently than most in Toronto. Below are some questions I asked Clinical Director and Co-Founder Jesse Hanson.
What made you decide to start Helix?
Co-founder Mark Rivkin invited me to become part of Helix when it was still just a glimmer in his eye. Initially, I was not a fan of the idea, as I lived and worked in Malibu, California. But once I met Mark and visited Toronto, my heart told me it was the right thing to do. I have no regrets about leaving Malibu and I am beyond excited about what we are creating here in Toronto.
Helix is becoming bigger than me, bigger than Mark, bigger than any person on the team. Helix is beginning to represent an opportunity for people to address life’s challenges in a new way that addresses underlying causes rather than numbing down or cutting out negative symptoms. Before Mark and I met, our philosophies and ideas about how to create a unique and alternative healing center were aligned. Once I met him, it was a no brainer to co-found Helix with him.
What is the Helix philosophy to mental health?
Helix treats the underlying causes and root issues behind addiction, mental health imbalances, stress, anxiety, and depression. Helix sees the mind and body as unavoidably interconnected. This is in stark contrast to the traditional approach of treating symptoms alone and separate from everything else.
The Helix approach is based in cutting-edge neuroscience and integrates treatments for the mind and body in a seamless and collaborative way that empowers our clients to create long-lasting change in their lives. Most treatments rely on the power of mind over matter. Sadly, modern neuroscience shows us that the mind’s power over the body is limited. At Helix, we capitalize on this science and work with our clients in a way that creates a harmonious marriage between mind and body and gives our clients the ability to create the life they want.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in California regarding self-care?
When I look back on my own journey, the best gift that Cali gave me in regards to self-care is that it provided a place for me to be free, be myself, and be authentic. Toronto is also a free and accepting place, but there is still a stigma around mental health and seeking help. Through Helix, we’re looking to spread some more non-judgmental energy in Toronto. Many clients tell me that it is the open, positive and accepting energy at Helix that allows them to heal and flourish in ways they never have before.
I haven’t done their program, I’ve only attended a yoga class that was accompanied by crystal bowls, chanting and a didgeridoo. However, I’m all for sharing about options, because Lord knows there’s never one way to tackle a problem.
Helix Healthcare now serving two locations in Toronto:
Helix Yorkville, 102 Yorkville Avenue, Suite 205
Helix Midtown, 164 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 400