Cory Bader was clean for almost two years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Then, March of 2020 rolled in, bringing daily case counts and building closures and orders to isolate. The daycare near Bader’s house in La Salle temporarily shut its doors. Bader became a stay-at-home dad, resulting in him losing his job. His biggest excursion was a weekly visit to the grocery store. “My mental health deteriorated very quickly, being stuck at home all the time,” Bader said. He drank alcohol a couple of times, used drugs twice. On May 23, 2020, he tried to take his own life. His then-wife found him and called the RCMP. “Thankfully it didn’t work; thankfully I got the help I needed,” Bader said. Substance-related deaths in Manitoba increased almost 95 per cent last year, according to a news release from the provincial government. Deaths jumped to 372 from 191 in 2019. Bader, 36, said he knows around 15 to 20 people who have overdosed or died by suicide during the pandemic. Two peers from high school overdosed three days apart last May. He knows people who haven’t touched drugs or alcohol for years, but they’ve relapsed due to the environment the pandemic has created for them. “Not everyone that relapses ever comes back,” he said. “I think (the pandemic) could have really long lasting, fatal consequences.” There are no physical entities dedicated to treating addictions in the rural municipalities of Macdonald, Headingley, Cartier or St. Francois Xavier. The closest options are in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, or online. Bader said driving to Winnipeg for programs and meetings doesn’t bother him. He used to live near Brunkild, where the commute was much longer. He’s dealt with addiction since his teens. “There’s a certain feeling when you go to a meeting in the room,” Bader said. “It’s a comforting energy that … you can’t duplicate via Zoom. It’s not the same for me.” He said he was able to recover because of his decades of past experience. For folks now getting help for the first time, where the options are online counselling or being confined to a treatment residence, it’s much harder. “Recovery takes a long time,” Bader said. “You take a few steps forward, you take four steps back.” Being able to practise what you’ve learned in sessions in the outside world is key. Bader said isolation is his addiction’s worst enemy. “Being a recovering addict, a lot of your success relies on you building a life and becoming a member of society who’s contributing,” he said. “(It) makes it harder with everything that’s going on in the world.” On May 31, Manitoba announced it would pump over $819,000 into two Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine clinics in Winnipeg. The clinics provide immediate counselling and can prescribe addictions medications to adults. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in both overdose deaths and demand for services, particularly related to opioids,” Dr. Erin Knight, a medical co-lead for RAAM, said in a news release. “The Winnipeg RAAM clinics have been most affected by the increased demand, making it more difficult for patients to access same-day care.” There are RAAM clinics in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson. The pandemic has created extra stress for people, according to a spokesperson from Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. “Many Manitobans are dealing with overwhelming real-life stressors such as uncertainties about health, fear of contracting COVID-19, uncertain job status, financial worries and concerns about what the future holds,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “This increase in stress can lead to the development of unhealthy coping habits and a subsequent rise in the use of substances.” A loss of social connection and supports can also impact people’s substance use, the spokesperson said. However, the AFM has seen its clientele decrease by 18 per cent over the past year. Alcohol remains the top concern when people used services — it was the major presenting issue of 71 per cent of people who accessed the AFM in the 2020-2021 year. It’s hard to say if there will be an increase in people struggling with addiction post-pandemic, the AFM said. Addictions arise from complex and ongoing interactions between biological, psychological, sociocultural and spiritual factors including poverty, homelessness and intergenerational trauma, the spokesperson said.

Cory Bader was clean for almost two years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Then, March of 2020 rolled in, bringing daily case counts and building closures and orders to isolate. The daycare near Bader’s house in La Salle temporarily shut its doors. Bader became a stay-at-home dad, resulting in him losing his job. His biggest excursion was a weekly visit to the grocery store.
"My mental health deteriorated very quickly, being stuck at home all the time," Bader said.
He drank alcohol a couple of times, used drugs twice. On May 23, 2020, he tried to take his own life. His then-wife found him and called the RCMP.
"Thankfully it didn’t work; thankfully I got the help I needed," Bader said.
Substance-related deaths in Manitoba increased almost 95 per cent last year, according to a news release from the provincial government. Deaths jumped to 372 from 191 in 2019.
Bader, 36, said he knows around 15 to 20 people who have overdosed or died by suicide during the pandemic. Two peers from high school overdosed three days apart last May.
He knows people who haven’t touched drugs or alcohol for years, but they’ve relapsed due to the environment the pandemic has created for them.
"Not everyone that relapses ever comes back," he said. "I think (the pandemic) could have really long lasting, fatal consequences."
There are no physical entities dedicated to treating addictions in the rural municipalities of Macdonald, Headingley, Cartier or St. Francois Xavier. The closest options are in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, or online.
Bader said driving to Winnipeg for programs and meetings doesn’t bother him. He used to live near Brunkild, where the commute was much longer. He’s dealt with addiction since his teens.
"There’s a certain feeling when you go to a meeting in the room," Bader said. "It’s a comforting energy that … you can’t duplicate via Zoom. It’s not the same for me."
He said he was able to recover because of his decades of past experience. For folks now getting help for the first time, where the options are online counselling or being confined to a treatment residence, it’s much harder.
"Recovery takes a long time," Bader said. "You take a few steps forward, you take four steps back."
Being able to practise what you’ve learned in sessions in the outside world is key. Bader said isolation is his addiction’s worst enemy.
"Being a recovering addict, a lot of your success relies on you building a life and becoming a member of society who’s contributing," he said. "(It) makes it harder with everything that’s going on in the world."
On May 31, Manitoba announced it would pump over $819,000 into two Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine clinics in Winnipeg. The clinics provide immediate counselling and can prescribe addictions medications to adults.
"Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in both overdose deaths and demand for services, particularly related to opioids," Dr. Erin Knight, a medical co-lead for RAAM, said in a news release. "The Winnipeg RAAM clinics have been most affected by the increased demand, making it more difficult for patients to access same-day care."
There are RAAM clinics in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson.
The pandemic has created extra stress for people, according to a spokesperson from Addictions Foundation of Manitoba.
"Many Manitobans are dealing with overwhelming real-life stressors such as uncertainties about health, fear of contracting COVID-19, uncertain job status, financial worries and concerns about what the future holds," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "This increase in stress can lead to the development of unhealthy coping habits and a subsequent rise in the use of substances."
A loss of social connection and supports can also impact people’s substance use, the spokesperson said.  
However, the AFM has seen its clientele decrease by 18 per cent over the past year. Alcohol remains the top concern when people used services — it was the major presenting issue of 71 per cent of people who accessed the AFM in the 2020-2021 year. 
It’s hard to say if there will be an increase in people struggling with addiction post-pandemic, the AFM said. Addictions arise from complex and ongoing interactions between biological, psychological, sociocultural and spiritual factors including poverty, homelessness and intergenerational trauma, the spokesperson said.

Cory Bader was clean for almost two years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Cory Bader has dealt with addiction for most of his life. (PHOTO SUPPLIED BY CORY BADER)

Cory Bader has dealt with addiction for most of his life. (PHOTO SUPPLIED BY CORY BADER)

Then, March of 2020 rolled in, bringing daily case counts and building closures and orders to isolate. The daycare near Bader’s house in La Salle temporarily shut its doors. Bader became a stay-at-home dad, resulting in him losing his job. His biggest excursion was a weekly visit to the grocery store.

"My mental health deteriorated very quickly, being stuck at home all the time," Bader said.

He drank alcohol a couple of times, used drugs twice. On May 23, 2020, he tried to take his own life. His then-wife found him and called the RCMP.

"Thankfully it didn’t work; thankfully I got the help I needed," Bader said.

Substance-related deaths in Manitoba increased almost 95 per cent last year, according to a news release from the provincial government. Deaths jumped to 372 from 191 in 2019.

Bader, 36, said he knows around 15 to 20 people who have overdosed or died by suicide during the pandemic. Two peers from high school overdosed three days apart last May.

He knows people who haven’t touched drugs or alcohol for years, but they’ve relapsed due to the environment the pandemic has created for them.

"Not everyone that relapses ever comes back," he said. "I think (the pandemic) could have really long lasting, fatal consequences.

"There are no physical entities dedicated to treating addictions in the rural municipalities of Macdonald, Headingley, Cartier or St. Francois Xavier. The closest options are in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, or online.

Bader said driving to Winnipeg for programs and meetings doesn’t bother him. He used to live near Brunkild, where the commute was much longer. He’s dealt with addiction since his teens.

"There’s a certain feeling when you go to a meeting in the room," Bader said. "It’s a comforting energy that … you can’t duplicate via Zoom. It’s not the same for me."

He said he was able to recover because of his decades of past experience. For folks now getting help for the first time, where the options are online counselling or being confined to a treatment residence, it’s much harder.

"Recovery takes a long time," Bader said. "You take a few steps forward, you take four steps back."

Being able to practise what you’ve learned in sessions in the outside world is key. Bader said isolation is his addiction’s worst enemy.

"Being a recovering addict, a lot of your success relies on you building a life and becoming a member of society who’s contributing," he said. "(It) makes it harder with everything that’s going on in the world."

On May 31, Manitoba announced it would pump over $819,000 into two Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine clinics in Winnipeg. The clinics provide immediate counselling and can prescribe addictions medications to adults.

"Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in both overdose deaths and demand for services, particularly related to opioids," Dr. Erin Knight, a medical co-lead for RAAM, said in a news release. "The Winnipeg RAAM clinics have been most affected by the increased demand, making it more difficult for patients to access same-day care."

There are RAAM clinics in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson.

The pandemic has created extra stress for people, according to a spokesperson from Addictions Foundation of Manitoba.

"Many Manitobans are dealing with overwhelming real-life stressors such as uncertainties about health, fear of contracting COVID-19, uncertain job status, financial worries and concerns about what the future holds," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "This increase in stress can lead to the development of unhealthy coping habits and a subsequent rise in the use of substances."

A loss of social connection and supports can also impact people’s substance use, the spokesperson said.  

However, the AFM has seen its clientele decrease by 18 per cent over the past year. Alcohol remains the top concern when people used services — it was the major presenting issue of 71 per cent of people who accessed the AFM in the 2020-2021 year. 

It’s hard to say if there will be an increase in people struggling with addiction post-pandemic, the AFM said. Addictions arise from complex and ongoing interactions between biological, psychological, sociocultural and spiritual factors including poverty, homelessness and intergenerational trauma, the spokesperson said.

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
The Headliner community journalist

Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at gabrielle.piche@canstarnews.com

   Read full biography