Squamish centre treats addiction, depression with Dr. Deepak Chopra’s unique approach

Published: April 8, 2014

Support worker Baljit Binning outside Chopra Addiction & Wellness Centre in Squamish, BC, March 12, 2014. Arlen Redekop / PNG staff photo


For nearly five years, Barbara — a mother and wife based in the Kootenays — “couldn’t see a way out” of her debilitating depression.

“I was just getting worse and worse,” Barbara, who asked not to use her last name, told Vancouver Desi. “My whole outlook on life was just black. I couldn’t see a way out.”

Fortunately, she heard about the Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center in Squamish — one of B.C.’s few residential treatment centres.

The Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center gives those suffering from addiction and/or underlying issues the opportunity to heal with a unique approach through its partnership with Dr. Deepak Chopra.

It employs the curriculum from his book, Freedom from Addiction, and combines both western and eastern philosophies, like Ayurveda, so the guests — who stay at the facility for up to six weeks — practise yoga and meditation every day, eat a vegetarian diet and don’t smoke or consume coffee or sugar.

While Barbara found the daily yoga and meditation “calming and centering,” her six-week stay in March 2011 was still difficult.

“There was nothing easy about it because what happens is you’re … digging into what’s causing you to be depressed,” she said. “(But) the support and the caring and the love that was there was amazing, and it helped me a lot to get through the hard things I had to dig up and face and get rid of.

“It’s made such a difference to my life.”

Barbara, now 65, is just one of several hundred people struggling with depression or addiction who has gone through the program.

“I believe that the people who come into the door really are struggling with their emotions,” said Nirmala Raniga, the centre’s founder and director. “If you can provide appropriate support with compassion, those people can change.”


Nirmala Raniga at Chopra Addiction & Wellness Centre in Squamish, BC, March 12, 2014. Arlen Redekop / PNG

Raniga opened the centre in 2010 because she believed B.C. needed “some resources and places to send people” struggling with addiction.

While traditional treatment centres exist, Raniga’s ayurvedic approach offers something different as it focuses on “healing the body — not just stopping use.”

“That’s what was missing (in B.C.),” she said.

While addicts may quit their addiction, they often replace it with more coffee, sugar or cigarettes — so the centre cuts those things out altogether. It also has an after-care program that connects clients with a therapist following their stay.

Raniga’s been working in addictions for more than 25 years — before she opened the centre in Squamish she was running five outpatient clinics across the Lower Mainland, which serve more than 2,000 B.C. patients.

“(It was) very, very tough to get rolling,” Raniga said of when she first started operating outpatient clinics in the late 1980s.

Most clinics and centres she opened ran into issues with the community. According to Raniga, her clinic in Chilliwack was threatened with eviction because neighbours believed she was “causing grief,” and even The Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center took years to establish.

“I was at the mercy of the District of Squamish to give me a licence,” she said.

Once she finally purchased the property it took three years to rezone, which involved countless hearings and public processes.

“Most neighbourhoods don’t want a treatment facility because they think it’s going to bring criminals in,” she said.

But addiction isn’t understood by the general public, said Raniga.

“The average person who suffers … is your average person who has a house, who has a job, who has a family — and their addiction, it’s easier to hide because they’re not living on the street,” she said. “If you have a house, you have a job and your addiction goes out of control, you’ll lose everything.”

Once Raniga organized an open house with the Squamish community — which more than 60 people attended — her centre was finally accepted. Raniga assured the community the centre wouldn’t accept any court-mandated clients, and also committed a no-charge service for those along the Sea-to-Sky, meaning she always has one free bed — valued at $18,000 for a full six-week stay — available for a community member.

“I don’t give up,” Raniga said matter-of-factly about her commitment to her work. “If you take away the addiction, what is the person holding on to? Ninety-nine per cent is just pain.

“We want to be able to empower them to make healthy choices, to be conscious of the choices they’re making.”

You can follow Raniga’s Chopra Addiction and Wellness Blog on vancouverdesi.com.



Tags: , , , , , ,


Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Nanaimo teen knocked unconscious in random, unprovoked attack outside school

NANAIMO DAILY NEWS NANAIMO, B.C. — Police say a Nanaimo teen was attacked Wednesday morning by a stranger in an unprovoked assault outside Nanaimo District…
Continue Reading »

funniest person

Pakistani comedian among 5 finalists in world’s funniest person competition in Las Vegas

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LOS ANGELES – An international search to find the world’s funniest person is moving to Las Vegas, where people will get to…
Continue Reading »

attack on Parliament Hill

Soldier, gunman who died in Ottawa rampage identified (w/photos, video) [updated]

ANDREW DUFFY OTTAWA CITIZEN Updates at 5:10 p.m. Soldier killed in War Memorial confirmed as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo Suspect, reportedly Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed in Centre Block shootout Police call situation…
Continue Reading »


Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Nanaimo teen knocked unconscious in random, unprovoked attack outside school

NANAIMO DAILY NEWS NANAIMO, B.C. — Police say a Nanaimo teen was attacked Wednesday morning by a stranger in an unprovoked assault outside Nanaimo District…
Continue Reading »

Factbox: Canada’s past includes shooting at Quebec’s National Assembly in 1984

THE CANADIAN PRESS A gunman killed a soldier at the National War Memorial on Wednesday before being shot in Parliament Hill’s Center Block. Prime Minister…
Continue Reading »

Parliament hill

Narendra Modi condemns ‘extremely disturbing’ Ottawa shootout

IANS New Delhi – Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Wednesday’s shootout near the Canadian parliament in Ottawa as “extremely disturbing”. “News of the attack in…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...


Diwali celebrations in Vancouver and Surrey

DiwaliFest celebrates its 11th anniversary from Oct. 17 to 26 at various sites in Surrey and Vancouver. Diwali Celebration Friday, Oct. 24 at Firehall Centre…
Continue Reading »

Facebook photo showing Martin Rouleau

Canada is Losing the Values War

UJJAL DOSANJH SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI The dreaded happened in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a quiet historic town in Quebec. Many years ago I stayed there for a…
Continue Reading »

Butter Chicken

Light up Diwali with this delicious dinner: Butter Chicken, Basmati Rice with Peas, Chickpea Masala and Gulab Jamun

Indian festival is a fine reason for a feast BAL ARNESON POSTMEDIA NEWS Diwali is India’s biggest festival. People light candles and divas (small Indian…
Continue Reading »


Vancouver’s ‘Spice Goddess’ Bal Arneson loves celebrating Diwali with friends and family

LOIS ABRAHAM THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO – Ever since she was a little girl in India, “Spice Goddess” host Bal Arneson has loved celebrating the…
Continue Reading »


Heartbreaking photos of two elephants electrocuted in India

IANS Siliguri – Two elephants, including a female, were electrocuted in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Saturday, an official said. The tuskers were found in a…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest

Bollywood kiss

Bollywood’s king of kisses Emraan Hashmi refuses to dance with the queen of sex Sunny Leone

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood’s serial kisser Emraan Hashmi has refused to share screen space with porn star-turned Bollywood-actress Sunny Leone, Indian tabloid Mid-Day reported. Hashmi, who…
Continue Reading »

Jackie Chan

First India-China joint venture film starring Jackie Chan launched

HINDUSTAN TIMES Chinese action star Jackie Chan will star in the first Sino-India joint film production slated to go on the floors in the coming…
Continue Reading »


Saif Ali Khan poses with pants down

IANS New Delhi – Actor-producer Saif Ali Khan was caught and clicked with his pants down while shooting for his new film “Happy Ending”. As…
Continue Reading »