For Brendan Monson, former Buttery resident turned Buttery Counsellor and Recovery Circle member, giving back to The Buttery, is all a vital part of his recovery.
Brendan came to The Buttery at 39 in 2006, having used opioids daily since he was 14.
“The Buttery taught me to do the opposite to what I had always done for most of my life. I now know the huge payoff that comes from being of service to others.
When I arrived here. I had no idea. I thought rehabs were for people with broken bones. For me, it was a totally new experience, with a totally different language and concepts.
I came from a dysfunctional family home and at 13 really quickly found that drugs were the answer. I found it really reduced my discomfort.
I went from recreational to daily really quickly — from poppies to heroin, to pharmaceutical opiates. During that period there was a lot of jail time and crime.
I had the option of doing the MERIT program*. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working, so I took it.
I didn’t know what recovery from addiction meant. I just knew that I spent too much time going to jail and too much time taking from society.
I had a sense that the little flame in my soul was going to go out.
The Therapeutic Community and the facilitators showed me the power of connection with others and connection to self — learning to give and not actually expecting anything in return was part of recovery.
I had a lot of the shame – I left a lot of damage and wreckage in my wake. I had a lifetime of taking from society and I needed to make amends. How I did that was to become other-centred.
I joined the 12-Step Fellowship and become of service there. I volunteered at The Buttery, I started donating food for the residents’ Christmas. Then I started working there full time.
I don’t have a lot of money. But I donate just a bit through The Recovery Circle every month.
It means a lot to me. Sometimes it’s important to do what you can, when you can. As my wages have gone up, my contribution has too.
For me, it is all about the connection and honouring that connection. You can say donating is just material, but hey, for me I know there is a real need for The Buttery to actually have people that give money to them. They can’t function without it.
It is really appropriate that I give back. It’s the gift that keeps giving.”
*The MERIT Program is for people who have been convicted of a non-violent drug-related crime through which the offender can attend a rehab instead of being incarcerated.