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Ian Rabb

MP Joyce Bateman presenting Ian Rabb with Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award

Ian Rabb Recognized For His Community Work Fighting Battle Addictions -Receives Queen’s Diamond Jubilee- Sits on Task Force of JCFS Against Addictions

by Rhonda Spivak, Feb 22, 2013

[Editor's note: On a personal note I want to tell readers that after interviewing Ian for a lengthy amount of time, I found him to be a real wealth of information on the topic of fighting addictions, and he certainly added to my own knowledge base. This article only touches on some of the many things we spoke about. Suffice it to say, that I can easily see why he is receiving the ongoing calls from people in the general and Jewish community who need help in this area. Our community is indeed fortunate to have his leadership in this is regard. May he go from strength to strength in his battle to help those fighting to overcome addictions]
Ian Rabb is a community leader who has successfully recovered from his own addiction problems and for the last decade has devoted much of his life to helping others who are battling addictions. He says that he gets "between 6-20 calls a month just from the Jewish community alone" about people who need help and treatment.
"Often people call me about their spouses, not only their kids. Others are elderly, like the 86 year old man who called me recently... I think that there's a lot of addictions out there in the Jewish community that we aren't aware of," he says.
In December 2012, Rabb, who works as the general manager of Winpark Dorchester Properties, was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his dedication of service to helping those in the Manitoba community battling with addictions.

As Joyce Bateman, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, who presented Rabb with the award said,” Dr. Ian Rabb has made a significant impact in our community over the years through his support of those struggling with addiction and his commitment to help them make positive choices.”
“Ian cares about helping others make a difference in their lives and this is evident in his work with Two Ten Recovery Inc.”
Seven years ago, Rabb founded Two Ten Recovery, which provides safe, structured drug and alcohol-free housing for those in recovering from addictions. His guidance, which has helped hundreds of people, continues to make a difference in the lives of recovering addicts and offers hope to those looking to work towards their goals. To learn more about Two Ten Recovery, click here:
The fourty seven year old Rabb, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, he believes that addictions are the result of several causes. “I think there is something familial, that there is a genetic component. I had an relative that was an alcoholic who was an addict. I also think that addicts have had a traumatic experience in their childhood or life, which is a trigger.”
Rabb notes that “as a baby I was very ill” and by kindergarten and grade school, even though he had friends and outwardly seemed fine, “I always felt my skin didn’t fit, I always thought that I was outside looking in.”
This feeling of “constant separation,” of “not fitting in” continued to exist for Rabb even though as a teen he had friends and was active in Chai, USY, and BBYO, and on many sports teams.
He refers to addictions as “the cancer of the soul,” saying that they are the result of a deep lack of self-esteem on the inside, even though on the outside a person may appear to be alright. On the outside, this scan often be masked as a large ego or somewhat narcissistic or attention seeking.
Rabb left Winnipeg and became an optometrist, living in Chicago. But he says that being far away made it “easy to lie to my family” and others about his addiction. “I would hide it a lot” while it spun more and more out of control. Rabb’s drug addiction led him to contact with organized crime, and “I was arrested seven times related to crime and drugs.”
According to Rabb, people with addictions become “pathological liars” in order to keep covering up their addictions from their loved ones.
Rabb recalls how he ended up moving to live with his sister in Denver, and once this happened it was she who began to report to his family on the full extent of his addiction problems.
“She threw me out on the street,” says Rabb and then his father flew down to Denver and told him he had to come home and get into a treatment program or be on the streets.
Rabb says, looking back it is clear that his father saved him. “I’d either be in jail or dead, if he hadn’t intervened.”
At the time, however, Rabb says he still was thinking that he would go back to Winnipeg for a little while and “calm everyone down” and then he’ d be able to leave Winnipeg and return to his addictions.
Then Rabb did the 12-step recovery program, and “I’m now just over 11 years clean and sober.” At Two Ten Recovery residents are mandated to attend the 12-step meetings, work with a 12 step sponsor and do the 12 steps.
Rabb says that the “ disease of addictions is mental, physical, emotional and spiritual and the answer must come from within.”
He notes he is grateful to his “mentor” from Alcoholics Anonymous (THE TWELVE STEP PROGRAM), who was an 82 year old, who made a big difference and changed his life.

On receiving his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, Rabb said, “I am so grateful for this honour, but truly my accomplishments have occurred only because of my parents [Dave and Sheila Rabb] and family. They saved me and in honour of that I will work every day to make them proud and provide that type of unconditional love and commitment to others suffering with addictions. Paying it forward is gratitude in action.”
 Rabb said he has great respect for his brother Jeff who gave him a chance when no one else did.
In the Jewish community, Rabb sits on a new committee SAGA [Strategic Advisory Group on Addictions] formed by the Jewish Child and Family Services, whose purpose is to advise JCFS in the delivery of formal addiction services within JCFS. The program’s goal is to increase the capacity within the Agency and the Winnipeg Jewish Community to provide a continuum of services addressing substance use and addictions within the Jewish community. The JCFS supports JACS which is a self- help Jewish 12 step support group and the role of SAGA is to help the agency build on that.
“We’ve started the conversation, which is very important,” notes Rabb, who speaks highly of JCFS Addictions counsellor Ivy Kopstein.
Rabb also says that in mentoring Jewish kids with addictions, he has encountered Jewish kids who may not want to go to any program that is put on by the Jewish community, as they are looking to feel “completely anonymous.” They want to go somewhere where they feel that no one will recognize their face.

When asked what warning signs parents ought to look out for that may suggest that their child may be beginning to contemplate using drugs or alcohol, or is already using, Rabb says, “teenage isolation, or defiance, anger, mood changes” can all be warning signs that a teen could be turning to drugs or alcohol. “They’ll be looking for an answer for all of these feelings,” he adds.
Rabb says that he has also met a number of Jewish kids who have addiction problems who “have had direct connections with grandparents who were in the Holocaust” and that tit is possible that the Holocaust has served as the “ trauma” in a person's family life. "I don't know if there has been a study ever done on this possible connection, but I think it would be interesting to do one," he says.

In Nov 2012 Rabb announced the creation of the Guardian Angel Fund to help those wanting access to addiction treatments. The fund aims to raise a million dollars which will be used to help those waiting for addiction treatment to access treatments across the country in a more timely fashion.
Rabb says there are not enough “beds for Manitoba for all the people with addictions and I send 10-12 people a month out of province for treatment.”
Rabb says he had tried to buy the resort hotel at Hecla Island to create a drug rehabilitation facility there to accommodate the need, but this did not happen. Rabb believes that the province wasn’t keen on his the idea of building a drug rehab facility in a provincial park. Hecla has been bought by Lakeview
“As a result I am looking to buy properties that would be suitable to turn into a drug rehab facility,” Rabb says, hoping that anyone with ideas in this regard will contact him.
Recently, Rabb has joined the Homelessness Task Force for our city, which is set to design a 10 year plan to end create affordable housing, and to end homelessness. “This has been done in the West ,” Rabb says, and is optimistic that Winnipeg’s situation in this regard can be improved.

Rabb was named one of eight Scotiabank National Game Changer Finalists for his service to the community in regard to addictions and was recognized on-field at the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto on November 25th. He hoped to win $100,000 for Two Ten Recovery Inc. to help enhance the homes and create an employment program allowing those in recovery to become independent and self-reliant.
When asked what the most rewarding part of his work is, Rabb said without hesitation, "Seeing someone get a completely new life."
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.