Posted: November 25, 2022
Darren Piper Recording Studio 2

This National Addictions Awareness week, we are recognizing the life-long impact that team members at the Grand River Hospital Withdrawal Management Centre have on the patients they care for. Nearly 15 years ago, Darren was a patient at the Withdrawal Management Centre.

“Growing up in a dysfunctional family system I had many adverse childhood experiences, which deeply affected my mental, emotional, physical health and well-being. With nowhere to turn to for help, the trauma manifested into untreated depression, anxiety and complex post traumatic stress disorder which I medicated with many obsessive, compulsive and dysfunctional behaviours namely using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes which began in my teens and expanded into my adulthood. These unhealthy coping mechanisms eventually turned into full blown addictions,” Darren says.

“I will forever be grateful for my recovery and healing journey at the GRH Withdrawal Management Centre.”

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At age 24, Darren was fearful that he was “hopelessly” addicted to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes and he realized he had to make a change.

“The kind, supportive, compassionate staff introduced me to community recovery resources and provided me with the tools I needed to recover and maintain my sobriety. The programs that the Withdrawal Management Centre provided me are gifts that I can never fully repay. I don't know where I would be today without my initial experience with recovery from GRH,” Darren says.

He adds, “I will forever be grateful for my recovery and healing journey at the GRH Withdrawal Management Centre.”

Darren wants everyone struggling with addiction to know: “You are not alone, there is help available, all you need to do is reach out. If I can go from where I was 14 years ago to where I am today with the help of the GRH Withdrawal Management Centre and the myriad of other recovery resources within our communities, anyone can.”

Darren Piper At The Mic

Darren “Optikz” Piper is a rapper, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and a strong advocate for mental health. Today he celebrates nine and a half years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol and six and a half years clean from cigarettes. Through Darren’s recovery, he has begun to rebuild his music career allowing his music to tell his story through honest and raw reflections of trauma and healing.

Listen to Darren's story through his new single here:

Mental health and addiction support:

If you are experiencing a mental health and addiction emergency that requires immediate treatment call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.

Adults seeking mental health and addictions support can call Here 24/7 any time at 1-844-437-3247 or TTY 1-877-688-5501.

Here24/7 provides intake, assessment, referral, and crisis support. They can help you navigate the health system to find the most appropriate support for you, including referring you to Grand River Hospital services.

Children and youth under 18 can access mental health services by call Front Door at 519-749- 2932, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For 24/7, immediate assistance, you can also call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868 to be connected to a volunteer crisis responder.

For non-urgent information about the mental health services and programs offered at Grand River Hospital, please call 519-749-4310.

Families for Awareness, Change and Education (FACE) is a volunteer advisory committee that works in partnership with our program to promote patient and family centered care. If you are interested in more information, please email

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