Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 19, 2016 - 10:00 am

Healing from addictions means being “brutally honest,” Nunavut counsellor says

Recovery a "huge wall to climb" for those in the public eye

JANE GEORGE
Social worker Terry Garchinski (bottom left) is now leading a training program for Inuit counsellors at the Ilisaqsivik Society. Garchinksi was among first guests to stay at Clyde River's new Naujaaraaluit Hotel, seen here, a business whose profits are funnelled 100 per cent to Ilisaqsivik, the award-winning, Inuit-run charity in Clyde River that offers dozens of community-based health and wellness programs for children, families, men, women and elders. (FILE PHOTO)
Social worker Terry Garchinski (bottom left) is now leading a training program for Inuit counsellors at the Ilisaqsivik Society. Garchinksi was among first guests to stay at Clyde River's new Naujaaraaluit Hotel, seen here, a business whose profits are funnelled 100 per cent to Ilisaqsivik, the award-winning, Inuit-run charity in Clyde River that offers dozens of community-based health and wellness programs for children, families, men, women and elders. (FILE PHOTO)

If you want to heal from addictions, you must be “brutally honest”—with yourself and everyone else.

“If I see that, I see that person will have a more positive outcome no matter what route they take” Terry Garchinski, a clinical social worker, told Nunatsiaq News.

Garchinski, now working in Clyde River at the Ilisaqsivik Society delivering an Inuit counselling training program, holds a masters degree in clinical social work from the University of Calgary and is a registered social worker and with 26 years experience working in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

He’s no stranger to working with Inuit on addictions, residential school experience, abuse, trauma, loss, stress and suicide ideation.

We contacted Garchinski, who often offers counselling and programs at Cambridge Bay’s Wellness Centre, to talk about addictions recovery to better understand Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo’s recovery—although we did not discuss Tootoo’s specific situation.

Tootoo resigned in May as minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and from the Liberal caucus in the House of Commons to enter a 30-day program for addictions treatment.

Nearly two months later he admitted to an “inappropriate relationship” with a female staffer in his Ottawa office.

Then, in a Sept. 12 story, The Globe and Mail revealed even more details about that relationship, suggesting “Hunter Tootoo’s messy love triangle helped spur resignation from cabinet.”

Earlier this month, in an interview which aired on CBC television, Tootoo said a childhood plagued with abuse drove him to alcohol addiction, which he did not mention while being vetted by the Liberal party leading up to the October 2015 election.

Garchinski said he calls addictions “a lying disease, because first we lie to ourselves.”

So the key for those in recovery is to be honest with themselves, he said.

“If they’re not, it’s going to fail,” Garchinski said in an interview from Clyde River. “Are they being brutally honest with themselves and with people around them? If not, that raises red flags.”

For some, a 30-day treatment program is enough, but for others, it doesn’t get to root of issues, he said.

Many find that going out on the land, or adopting a different lifestyle helps—“there are many ways to address it, but it comes down to the individual.”

No matter what the plan is, Garchinski said is the individual has to buy into it.

“They have to do the work,” he said, adding that this can he hard for people in the public eye, because public judgment can be “a big block and keep us from going forward.

“It’s a huge wall to climb,” Garchinski said.

“People who are well-known also face being shamed and being judged in public and try to keep that image positive. That becomes like an anchor around one’s neck because if you want to recover, you also have to be humble and forget the image.”

There might also be addiction to power, to being well-liked, so the first thing for people in recovery to know is what is feeding their addictions, Garchinski said.

And they might have need to restructure their whole life to deal with that.

“You might have to lift up your house and redo the whole foundation,” he said.

As to how the public should respond to addictions in others—it’s okay to demand ethical standards of behaviour, he said, whether from a teacher, member of the clergy or a politician.

We are always wrong to judge the person, because we’re all people, Garchinski said, but we should hold people accountable and responsible for their behaviour.

‘You’re a good person, but we’re dealing with bad behaviour” should be the message.

A recent petition that demands Tootoo’s resignation as MP said Tootoo’s “‘inappropriate relationship’ is not acceptable” — “Nunavummiut are left questioning how leaders get away with abusing their positions of power, what consent means when it comes to sexual relationships with staff members, what role going to alcohol rehabilitation played and the vagueness as to why exactly Hunter left.”

Garchinski did not speak to this petition but stated that “all of us are subject to and can be judged by our behaviour in context and need to be accountable.”

Ilisaqsivik now offers its own toll-free crisis line: You can call a mental health worker at 1-888-331-4433.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING