Door Slam a fun part of recovery process
Beer gardens may be a staple of adult slo-pitch tournaments but going through hassles of getting the proper permits for one is certainly not on the to-do list of organizers of the 13th annual Door Slam tourney in New Westminster this weekend.
The invitational tourney put on by the Last Door Recovery Society attracts more than 2,000 recovering addicts on 24 teams, the biggest recovery slo-pitch tournament in B.C. The Door Slam not only brings the recovery community together, it is part of the recovery process.
New Westminster native Mark Paddock, 30, has been a drug addict since he was 19. The big boy was an athlete growing up and was particularly good at rugby, playing at a provincial level. He had dabbled in drugs since a young age and so Paddock figures sports is the only thing that got him through high school and into working in the construction business.
“I was raised by an addict. It’s been a part of my life since long before I picked out my first drug,” says Paddock.
As he hung out in bars after work and on weekends, his drug use progressed. When he was 27, he overdosed on cocaine on the street and was taken to hospital with seizures.
“I was basically doing the funky chicken on the street corner. It happened a few times, but that one was kind of the last straw,” says Paddock.
His fiancé was also an addict so in a mutual decision they figured enough is enough. For about 18 months, he just did the basics to qualify as being “sober” while at the same time feeding his gambling addiction at local casinos.
Eventually he relapsed into drug use.
About four months ago Paddock decided to get serious about changing his life and sought help from New Westminster’s Last Door Recovery Society which took him into their program and provided accommodation.
“I’m genuinely happy for the first time in my life. It’s weird to say,” says Paddock. “Looking back, I thought I was happy. I had the job, I had the girl, I had the house. But there was something [wrong], but you didn’t see it at the time. Now all I have is two suitcases of clothes, and I’m happy for the first time.”
The friendships and relationships he’s developed at Last Door are strong ones. One thing that’s helped is the physical activities encouraged by Last Door that he does, including kick boxing, working out at the Canada Games pool and playing slo-pitch.
“If they didn’t offer these type of outlets, I don’t know if I would have done as well,” says Paddock. “It gives you a sense of self-esteem. It doesn’t feel institutional here, it feels like I’m productive.”
Daniel Sinclair, 26, is a Last Door youth worker who coaches the society’s team in the tournament, and helps out with similar tournaments around the Lower Mainland. Baseball has been a big part of his life since he was five years old. But drugs have also been a big part of his life since he was 13.
“It didn’t take long for drugs to overpower everything in my life,” says Sinclair, who joined Last Recovery’s staff after 19 months in the program and six months of volunteering. “This tournament was created for people to get together. We want to be productive members of society, instead of destroying everything that comes into our path. It’s part of the peer support recovery model.”
The tournament atmosphere off the diamond is more like a block party with kids fun zones, bouncy castles and family entertainment.
The Door Slam, Sinclair says, is about having fun, getting along with each other, learning how to take on a challenge and a goal, and working together as a team to reach that goal. It’s an example of how a person doesn’t need a substance to get high on life.
“You’re going to get a good feeling out of things like this,” says Sinclair.
“It’s a positive atmosphere where everybody encourages each other. That builds unity and respect.”
Ever since coming to Last Door, Paddock has been looking forward to the Door Slam as a fun way to help him go in the right direction on the base paths and in the real world.
“If you do everything put out for you [by Last Door] to do then a relapse won’t happen,” says Paddock.
“Stopping drugs is the easy part. It’s the learning how to live life that’s the hard part.”