Mike Pond discusses the struggles of addiction at Douglas College
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
On January 19, therapist Mike Pond will be giving a lecture at Douglas College on addiction and recovery from personal experience called, “Seven Things I Learned on the Way to Rock Bottom… and Back.”
Pond has been sober since August 2009, successfully overcoming severe alcoholism and using the time since to rebuild his life. Pond released his breakout memoir on May 10, 2014, titled The Couch of Willingness: An Alcoholic Therapist Battles the Bottle and a Broken Recovery System. Pond co-wrote the book with his partner and documentary filmmaker Maureen Palmer, whom Pond credits for helping him through his recovery.
Pond said the talk is meant to be educational, and will be based on lessons learned from his experiences as a therapist, as an addict, and as a writer.
“It’ll be both the writing process itself and I’m going to do some teaching on addiction,” said Pond.
“I’m a therapist, I’m a registered psychiatric nurse, and I’m also a registered social worker and have a Masters of Social Work. I’d been in practice for many years when my addiction took over and I was pretty well-established in my community in Penticton but the addiction became so severe, to the point that I ended up in the Downtown Eastside, homeless and broke.”
Pond added that after losing his practice, his home, and his family, he went through treatment centres and recovery houses to try and overcome his addiction. Pond stated he wound up in prison, and that he “visited the emergency room a total of 31 times.”
“Each of those visits was an opportunity to engage me in a compassionate conversation about how to stop my addiction,” said Pond. “Instead, I was in most cases shamed and blamed and told to ‘get lost,’ there were ‘real’ sick people waiting for treatment. We have to realize end stage alcoholism is as life threatening as cancer or heart disease.
“I learned some powerful lessons in that process [and] how the system is just not set up to help individuals with addiction issues.”
Pond will also be discussing how medical views of addiction have changed over time, and what new treatments and technology are being introduced to help with recovery.
“Most of us that have addiction issues, we end up just going to the standard AA, 12-step kind of programs, support groups. What we have is a medical condition, it’s a medical disorder, and some even say it’s a disease. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association says it is a disease and so does the American Medical Association.
“There are exciting new discoveries in pharmacology, psychology, neuroscience and genetics. Experts tell me treatment is at least 15 years behind research. I’m working now to close that gap.”
The lecture is presented by the Douglas College health sciences department as part of their speaker series. Pond’s talk is free and open to the public, and will be at the David Lam campus in room A1470 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.