In 1992, I entered a treatment centre to deal with my alcohol addiction. I stayed 28 days with about 25 other people. In the first two or three weeks, I was concentrating on learning about my addiction. It was my first time; it was my first effort. At that time, I stopped thinking about the outside world and all my personal problems – financial, family, employment. Towards the end, though, I started to think (and worry) about what my next steps would be after treatment was over - how I would deal with issues that were ahead of me in order to re-build my life. When I was drinking, I had my routine, my friends, my social life and my work.
Now, I knew that I had to change everything in order to stay sober. Most of the people I was in treatment with had the same worries and concerns. One of the biggest issues at that time, in my opinion, was the social life. I knew I had to change the places I went, the people I spent time with. Then an idea came. The idea was to create a place where individuals in recovery could meet, a kind of coffee house, free from drugs and alcohol – a safe haven. With another two individuals (a counsellor and the President of the treatment centre), we created the Metro Oasis Club. The first people who came to the club were newcomers who had the same worries and issues. They volunteered to help and provided their services free.
Very soon, the Metro Oasis Club became a gathering place – that safe haven - and offered people in recovery from addictions a social life. They had the opportunity to share their problems with their peers in a safe environment. They also took advantage of the space the Club offered to put together 12-step meetings – AA, CA, NA. Among the crowd were people with long-term recovery and they provided strong support to the newcomers by giving them direction and sharing their own experiences.
The Club gave me the opportunity to see additional needs that newcomers in recovery had: education and employment, among others. It was then that the Oasis Addiction Recovery Society was born. It would provide other services (life skills, employment preparation, assistance in finding jobs, etc.). Today, the Oasis Café (formerly the Metro Oasis Club) offers to the newcomer the same opportunities as it always has: a safe environment, opportunities to meet and share among peers as well as offering space for 12-step meetings.