Mike’s Story: Cost Sharing Addiction Recovery
“Recovery is a two way street. BC Hydro offered me support. But then I worked hard. And as I put in more, so did they.”
BC Hydro is the largest provincial Crown Corporation in BC and generates and provides clean, reliable, and affordable electricity safely to 95% of the population, or 4 million people.
As a Crown corporation owned by the people of British Columbia, they want their workforce to reflect the diversity of their province. To achieve this, BC Hydro supports employees who are experiencing physical or mental challenges. One example of this is through their Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Program.
Mike Ferguson worked for BC Hydro for 28 years, most recently as a Manager, Apprentice Power Line Technicians Program. He oversaw the education and evaluation processes for the power line technicians, both in the classroom and in the field. There were about 110 Apprentices in the program. Mike had a Power line technician Red Seal Trade Certificate, a BC Provincial Instructor Diploma from Vancouver Community College and was working towards his Masters of Education in Adult Education.
He was over 11 years sober while working at BC Hydro.
Mike describes getting up on the morning of January 4, 2006, and walking past the mirror to see a version of himself he wasn’t familiar with. At 6 feet, he only weighed 140lbs and looked exhausted. It was on that morning that Mike decided to check himself into an Alcohol and Drug and Recovery Program in Edgewood, Nanaimo.
He went into work to ask if he could use all his overtime and sick time to get time off for the program to attend. He went into the conversation fully expecting to pay for treatment himself and was taken aback by BC Hydro’s response.
BC Hydro not only gave him the time off but offered to partner with him on the cost of the recovery program. Mike was in treatment for two months before returning back to work.
He recalled this time as a learning experience, much like going to school.
“Learning and being challenged in my career is what has kept me sober. I realized that I needed to replace the lost social environment that the alcohol and drug lifestyle provided me—and that replacement became lifelong learning.”
He describes the program as not only a place where an individual can go to abstain from substances, but also a space to be educated on how they arrived there in the first place. He learned about the functions of the human brain, the power of thoughts and emotions, what was driving him to where he was, and the underlying causes of addiction for him. He attributed part of his recovery to developing a love for learning.
When he went back to work, Mike met with someone at BC Hydro whose role was to help him integrate back into the workforce. Together they set a plan to determine what this would look like for him.
Three weeks after his return, he was asked to be a union representative on the BC Hydro/IBEW Joint Apprentice Committee. Six years later, he was asked to manage the apprentice program. He also took on the role of Senior Manager of the Safety Advocate program for 1 year before returning to the Apprentice program role.
Mike was constantly developing at work by taking on more responsibility and spending his time outside of work studying and gaining the necessary skills to continue to expand his career.
“Someone was counting on me to be sharp when I came into work. I work for an organization that has faith in me and has given me the opportunities to learn and expand.”
Mike is no longer with BC Hydro, after a career spanning 28 years at the company. This piece is kept on our website with permission.