The Post Wherein I Rip The Recovery House Racket Apart: Today’s Scam—StepinStone in Abbotsford BC

It’s nearly a year ago now since I first began this strange and difficult journey of addiction recovery. A journey that started back in Alberta with a telephone call to my big sister, a call during which promises of a new life were both made and believed, back when trust was still more than a word spoken with no small amount of longing, and family love was something I still believed in, even if  the only biological family that loved me was my edler sister and my daughter. My daughter’s love alone would have been more than enough, my elder sister’s love was just a nice bonus. The plan was for me to move to BC with my then eleven year old daughter, Adorable Spice, and, once here, I would enter a recovery house entitled “The Glory House”, Sister Spice (AKA: Fooled-me. Instead-of-love-it-was-just. Betrayal-sister. Spice, or FIBS Spice for short) would care for Adorable Spice and Pets Spice whilst I completed their program and then I would get my little girl back and we’d find us a place close by to FIBS and FIBS In-law’s house, and we’d all live happily ever after. Amen.

Instead, although I was told by then director, Debbie Renyolds, that I could enter and stay at The Glory House with my pain medication due to the fact it was perscribed by a doctor for a very real physical malady, five short weeks after my arrival, new director Denise Kennedy was informing me that I had to leave the facility because the pain medication I legitimately needed was triggering the other girls. Scared, upset, feeling totally unwanted, and questioning now why on earth I came to BC to begin with if this is how it was all going to go, I called my sister. Surely, she’d help me, I thought. After all, I hadn’t done anything wrong, and wasn’t getting kicked out, it was just a matter of my medication being more of a problem than the new director was willing to handle.

FIBS did not react at all as I anticipated. In fact, now, some ten months later, I still remember her exact words to me: “Well, what are you going to do? If I were you I’d be calling the Salvation Army and other shelters around to get a bed.” And, I also remember my heartache and horror in that moment. My sister didn’t care about what happened to me at all. She had my daughter, the grand-daughter of my parents, and the only part of me that my family has ever seemed to feel is worthwhile. With Adorable Spice firmly in hand, what I did or didn’t do in respect to finding a safe recovery facility was entirely beside the point. That was the night I first realized what a fool I’d been to believe any member of my biological family truly loved me enough to want me living close and visiting often. What FIBS really wanted was Adorable Spice living in her house, hers, with Mama cut neatly out of the picture.

I finally found a place to go some five days later called StepinStone in Abbotsford, BC. You can see the link to the Abby411 listing for StepinStone here: http://abbychristian411.com/2007/01/24/stepinstone/  I was naive back then, and really believed that all recovery houses were created equal. StepinStone was my first course in an education I never wanted, and will never forget. The recovery houses consisted, on the women’s side, of three houses in a row on ClearBrook Drive. The house in the center belonged to Christian and Isha Roux, owners and operators of StepinStone. The two houses on either side belonged to the program, and housed between eight (8) and ten (10) women each. There was absolutely no staff in either of the houses, instead one of the addicts/alcoholics staying in the recovery house was appointed “house mother” and got the privilage of supervising the rest of the residents in that house as though she was staff, only unqualified and without any pay. The house I was in had a house mother who did have 18 months of sobriety under her belt, however also had a boatload of other issues preventing her from being truly effective. The second house had a house mother who was all of nineteen (19) years of age, and only in the house due to a CSO from the judge demanding she be there as an alternative to serving jail time. Rats and bed bugs infested both houses, though oddly did not infest the owners home despite it being situated directly in the middle of the two infestations. Christian had, apparently, brought a company in to spray for the bedbugs, however had neglected to let them come back into the house and respray two weeks later to ensure all eggs and any missed bed bugs were properly eradicated. The reasoning behind Christian Roux’s refusal of the second spray was that he hadn’t yet paid the exterminators, and thus, by refusing to allow them back into the houses for a second spraying, he also neatly avoided the bill; and in the process, completely avoided fixing the health hazard invading both homes, allowing them to multiply to a point of unbearability.

One client, we’ll call her Dawn, was allergic to the little critters, and thus had been developing enormous welts on her face and body that were then becoming infected. A trip to the physician left her with the advice of exiting the premises immediately and not returning until a proper and through extermination had been completed. Unfortunately for Dawn, she too was on a CSO, and thus had to stay at StepinStone despite the rats and bedbugs creating a cesspool breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria.

In addition to the bedbugs and rats, the two owners of StepinStone had their own glaring problems, problems which crippled them completely against being effective drug and alcohol counsellors or facilitators. Christian Roux was still frequenting hookers and using crack cocaine whenever and whereever he could get his hands on it. During my stay at the facility, Mr. Roux actually went missing for a period of about a week, due to being out on one of his frequent binges. Isha Roux, on the other hand, suffered from such severe bouts of depression she would flatly refuse to remove herself from her bed prior to eleven (11:00AM), on a good day. On a bad day, Isha wouldn’t remove herself from her room at all, refusing to deal with any problems which may come up during that day. Marg, the lady Christian and Isha Roux hired after Marg completed the program, but who had absolutely no formal training in addictions or addictions counselling, not to mention management, was left to fix whatever issues came up whilst Isha was hiding out in her cave of a room refusing to be a part of the world and/or deal with any one of it’s inhabitants.

In addition, though StepinStone is supposedly a facility which provides its clients with room and board, in all actuality, only six meals a week are provided to residents. Supper is provided Monday through Friday, and a brunch is provided on Sunday. Beyond that, residents are to fend for themselves. Not to worry, however, because few residents were going to stay all that long. The plan was as simple as it was fraudulent. Christian and Isha Roux would wait until roughly five days after everyones welfare check had made its way into their hot little hands, and then, they would look for reasons, any reason, to kick residents out.

Once a resident was kicked out, Christian and Isha Roux refused to return their welfare check, citing a contract you were made to sign in order to be granted entry into the recovery house in the first place as their iron-clad reason for doing so. Once they had the kicked out client convinced they were allowed to be doing what the Ministry strictly forbades them from doing, they refill the now empty bed with another client (who is also made to sign the “you can totally abuse your position and pretend it’s legal for you to keep my welfare check” contract) thus, essentially getting paid double for one single spot.

I wish the bad news about this place stopped there, but I’m afraid it doesn’t. Although they state they offer group counselling, and a rigorous work through of the twelve (12) steps of AA, along with a strong Christian background, the truth is far less uplifting. The group “counselling” is delivered by a lady by the name of “Sandra Mason” who, although two (2) plus years clean, does not possess any degree or certificate in drug and alcohol counselling. These groups consist of a chapter being read out of the 12X12 or AA Big Book, with each lady reading a paragraph of said chapter and then sharing on “how that paragraph makes (her) feel.” This group takes place ofr one hour four times a week, preceeded by one hour of silent “step work”, wherein the ladies sit quietly outside smoking their brains out and writing  down answers to the questions they are provided on each step. If one is at all literarily inclined, one can easily finish all twelve (12) steps two months into their  stay, at the most. These steps are flimsy excuses for the real thing, and deny the recovering addict/ alcoholic a real opportunity to work the program and get well. Furthermore,  the complete lack of qualified staff makes accurate referral and diagnosis impossible. When you add the fact the owners are still very much entrenched with their own personal demons and fighting their own personal trials with little time for anyone else, and the sad state of disrepair and substandard, condemnable nature of the housing offered the ladies, to say nothing of the lack of proper nutrition due to only receiving six (6) meals a week, you have a recovery house that, due to lack of municipal governance, is being allowed to essentially suck women who are battling a  disease that WILL take their very lives without PROPER HELP, into it’s clutches for the sole purpose of making as much money off of them as humanly possible.

How can we, as residents of British Columbia, allow this type of thing to go on? During the course of this series on recovery houses, I will tell you all the haunting tales and experiences I’ve had with these horrible places in my short time within this province. Like StepinStone, most of these stories are hard to read and hard for me to remember and write about. This said, the real purpose behind this is to open the eyes of the BC public so we can band together and demand our municipal government take responsibility for checking out and licensing these houses to avoid this manner of horror. Addicts searching for recovery have lived through more than enough horror, and one hopes the reason they seek recovery is to end that part of their torturous existence. To have one so beaten down by life enter a facility which cleans her out whilst operating under the guise of being there to help, really, what’s happening is the signing of that ladies death warrant. Why? Because the chances are incredibly high that, not getting the things she needs physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually in the house, she will simply say “fuck it” and go back to the  streets where, at least, she knows what to expect. It’s time we, as a people, told our government we aren’t going to stand for this substandard treatment of our fellow humans and that it’s high time our municipal government stopped putting it’s head in the sand and started shutting these horror shows down and open some more like Ellendale, which is government licensed and a wonderful place to do your recovery.

God Bless and Stay Safe Ya’all!

Dee Dee

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~ by double2dee on April 6, 2009.

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