A Winnipeg man who has struggled with alcoholism for decades says he has filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission over the lack of a treatment program that's free of religious or spiritual elements.
Rob Johnstone said he has battled alcoholism for 40 years and can't find a treatment program that doesn't rely on religion or spirituality as part of the recovery process.
"I should not be forced to participate in someone else's religious beliefs. I shouldn't have to add to mine," said Johnstone, who added he has been an alcoholic for 40 years.
"I have my own beliefs and I'm happy with them."Because it's all about you, isn't it fellah? Your needs. Your "rights". Ever think that maybe that's part of your problem--seeing yourself as the be-all and end-all--and that you'd stand a better chance of recovering if you weren't so egocentric and were a little more open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, there was something out there that was bigger that you? In fact, that's the reason the recovery programs you find so objectionable are apt to be the most effective--because they incorporate a religious/spiritual element.
Johnstone said his faith-neutral stance to his own treatment prompted him to be dismissed from an intense residential 12-step program at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM), a provincially-run rehabilitation initiative.
He said he was encouraged by the AFM to find strength in God or a higher power in order to recover, but couldn't stomach it and was asked to leave.
Johnstone said after scouting around for another program that was free of spirituality, he said he couldn't find one — despite a few offering what they describe as "faith-free" options.
Programs offered by Manitoba's Native Addictions Council and the Behavioural Health Foundation each contained spiritual elements like aboriginal drum ceremonies, Johnstone said.
And while in treatment at the latter program, he was approached to see if he was interested in attending services at a Christian church in Winnipeg.
Johnstone said the presence of spiritual elements in rehab programs exploit vulnerable addicts.
"We get involved in mood-altering substances and mind-altering substances," Johnstone said. "That means the person is very vulnerable when they come in and that person should not be subjected to someone else's religion."
He's hoping his human rights complaint pushes the province to create a treatment program that's free of spiritual or religious elements. The commission wouldn't comment on the status of his complaint...
But you know best, right pal?