Doug MacKenzie, centre, owner of Options Okanagan Treatment Centre, is organizing another forum in Cowichan that is intended to help those struggling with addictions. Matt Funk, left and Allan Dennis, right, are former drug addicts who are encouraging others to seek help. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cowichan Bay forum to help addicts; 2 free treatment spots available

Event is second in Cowichan in two years

Matt Funk was addicted to drugs, living on the streets of Duncan and without much hope for the future two years ago.

His wife had left him and taken his kids because of his addiction to alcohol, cocaine and opioids, leaving him alone and miserable.

Then his brother contacted him and told him about Doug MacKenzie and his offer to help, free of charge, a chosen resident of Duncan who was struggling with addictions at his Options Okanagan Treatment Centre, which has two locations in Kelowna and Salmon Arm.

At the time, MacKenzie became aware that drug issues had become a great concern in his hometown of Duncan, so he contacted other individuals and organizations that deal with addictions to step up and help out, as well as to offer professional assistance in treatment centres to at least two chosen people from the city.

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The organizations held a forum in Duncan and invited anyone requesting assistance to attend, with 45 answering the call.

Two individuals were finally chosen, including Funk who was accepted into a six-week program that would normally cost $18,000 at the time, and Allan Dennis, with Dennis being accepted free-of-charge at the Sunshine Coast Treatment Centre.

MacKenzie plans to hold another forum in November that will, again, offer free help to a number of chosen people with drug issues in the area.

MacKenzie had his own struggles with addiction when he was growing up in Duncan, but he chose to straighten his life up and has been clean and sober for almost 30 years, during which time he established his treatment centres to assist others facing the same issues.

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Funk ended up staying for nine months at the treatment centre, receiving treatment and volunteering to help others seeking help as well.

Funk is now completely clean and sober, has been reunited with his family and is studying social work at the University of Victoria with the aim of working to help addicts at treatment centres when he graduates.

He said his treatment at MacKenzie’s centre wasn’t his first attempt to straighten out his life, but it’s the one that stuck.

“I felt, with Doug’s faith in me, that I had an obligation this time to give it the best shot I could,” Funk said.

“The results were better than I could have dreamed. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to be with my kids and family again. I was so miserable and unhappy, but I’ve been given another chance at life.”

MacKenzie said the next forum will be held on Nov. 10 at Ocean Front Inn and Suites in Cowichan Bay.

Those wishing to participate can email him at dougmackenzie48@gmail.com.

“I grew up in Duncan, and when I was struggling with addictions, no one ever told me about the existence of treatment centres, and I couldn’t afford one at the time anyway,” Mackenzie said.

“I’m now in a position where I can help out. We’ll take two into treatment this time at my centre, which would normally cost them about $20,000 each. I’m more than pleased to be giving back to my hometown.”

The story of Allan Dennis is also one of addictions in his youth.

He was married with a one-year-old daughter when his wife strongly suggested he needed help to kick his drug dependency, so he decided to do it for his family.

“It was time for change, and I was more than willing to do it,” Dennis said.

“The centre was awesome and the staff were willing to sit and talk with me at any time of the day. I’d recommend this program to anyone. We need more people like Doug who are willing to step up and help out.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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