One Man’s Battle for Sobriety Leads to Transformation
May 23, 2024
Sutter Health
Portrait of Angus MacBain wearing a black shirt

by Marycon Young, Vitals contributor

Facing a stark choice between a decade behind bars or a chance at rehabilitation, Angus MacBain’s decision to enter the Merritt Peralta Institute in Oakland was a reluctant bid to dodge prison time. Yet, this choice became the catalyst for a profound transformation, not just for MacBain but also for many others navigating the perils of addiction.

At MPI, part of Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, the treatment philosophy goes beyond detoxification into comprehensive healing.

MacBain’s descent into addiction started with a sports injury as a teenager, leading from prescription painkillers into a harrowing journey through more dangerous substances. His life had become a revolving door of incarceration and fleeting attempts at sobriety until a court directive presented him with two choices.

“Initially, I saw MPI as just a way to avoid prison, not because I believed it could change me,” MacBain shares. However, the integrative treatment approach at MPI, which combines mental and physical healthcare, reshaped his perspective.

Holistic Healing Approach

“Substance use disorders affect every aspect of a person’s health, so we treat much more than the physical symptoms of withdrawal,” said Dr. Melinda Glines, medical director at MPI and board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine specialist. “We aim for a transformation that encompasses mental health, physical well-being and social reintegration.”

This inclusive approach involves traditional therapies, family engagement and robust community support systems to ensure the recovery lasts.

MacBain’s breakthrough came through an impactful therapy session where he visualized the devastating potential future dictated by his addiction compared to the possibilities of recovery. This turning point profoundly awakened him and propelled him from skepticism to active engagement in his healing process.

Today, as a counselor at MPI with over five years of sobriety, MacBain channels his experiences into helping others, demonstrating through his actions that recovery can pave the way to a fulfilling, sober life.

“To really be an effective counselor in this field, you’ve got to have walked the path yourself. Everything from my own recovery feeds into how I counsel because I really get it; I’ve been there,” MacBain explains. His personal experience with substance use disorders informs his approach, allowing him to connect deeply with his clients and provide guidance that resonates on a personal level.

Power of Community

“I draw on my journey to show that understanding and overcoming the depths of addiction isn’t just about getting clean; it’s about discovering a new way to live,” MacBain explains.

He participates in and promotes MPI’s community activities like sober softball leagues, and he individually participates in fitness competitions, underscoring the institute’s belief in the power of an active lifestyle in maintaining sobriety.

Community is a foundation of the treatment at MPI, where the environment is designed to foster strong bonds among patients, enhancing their recovery through mutual support. MacBain emphasizes, “Recovery thrives on connection. At MPI, we cultivate a community where everyone’s commitment to sobriety is reinforced by shared experiences and collective support.”

For those daunted by the journey ahead, MPI offers more than just medical treatment; it provides a supportive, compassionate network that guides patients and helps them rebuild their lives. MacBain’s story is an example of MPI’s transformative impact, illustrating that with the right approach, recovery can be vibrant and hopeful.

About Merritt Peralta Institute

Part of Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, MPI offers high-quality substance use disorder treatment that integrates a comprehensive mental health perspective. With a medical model supported by 24-hour nursing care, MPI views addiction as a treatable illness. Learn more here.

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