Education and Prevention


At East Kootenay Addiction Services Society we use a whole community approach to encourage open dialogue and healthy communication about drug and alcohol use.
       
We focus on health promotion and strengths-based positive youth development; always seeing youth as valuable resources. We believe young people are at their best and most healthy when they are connected to school, family and community.  
       
The Circle of Courage® provides the philosophical foundation for the work of Substance Use Education Programs at EKASS. This model was developed by Dr. Martin Brokenleg, and is based on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
             
EKASS partners with school staff to test new curricula and develop training for staff. Using lessons which are relevant to the lived experiences of youth, new drug & alcohol curricula promotes dialogue, critical thinking and awareness among students regarding alcohol & other drug issues.
       

 


Recent Posts

  • What is Harm Reduction?
  • What is Harm Reduction?

    Posted on: 02-Nov-2016

    Posted by EKASS | on 02-Nov-2016 What is Harm Reduction?

    This article examines the Philosophy of Harm Reduction and was written by East Kootenay Addiction Services' Executive Director, Dean Nicholson. The article below does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of East Kootenay Addiction Services.

    With all the talk about the Fentanyl crisis, the term Harm Reduction is often raised as an approach to deal with the problem.  Many people are unclear what Harm Reduction means and this article hopes to provide some clarification.  Harm Reduction refers to an approach to dealing with substance abuse, where the primary focus is to reduce the harms associated with using substances, rather than the focus being on stopping the use of substances.  This doesn’t mean that stopping or reducing use is not a goal, just that it is not the first goal. Often Harm Reduction is associated with programs like needle exchanges or safe-injection sites; programs in which people continue to use substances but are encouraged to do so in safer ways.  These are definitely Harm Reduction approaches but Harm Reduction casts a much wider net.  Too often in the past Harm Reduction approaches were contrasted with Abstinence approaches, with the two approaches being seen as polar opposites and opposed in principle.   From the Abstinence side, Harm Reduction was often characterized as supporting or encouraging substance use.   For some people on the Abstinence side, people on an Opioid Replacement Program like Suboxone or Methadone (which is one of the best ways to support people to get off Fentanyl) could be criticized for still being addicts because they were still using a drug.   In fact, Abstinence is also a Harm Reduction approach, as is responsible social drinking, as are needle exchanges. 

     

    A problem with the debate around Harm Reduction is that historically society’s focus on drug and alcohol use as been on the behavior itself – on the using.  If using is the problem, then not using is the solution.  This is further entrenched by then making using illegal and with the consequence that users become criminals.  A Law and Order approach, or a War on Drugs approach, is the natural outcome.  In Canada, about 70% of all Federal dollars that go towards substance use problems, goes to the law enforcement side, including the RCMP, the courts and correctional services.  Only 30% goes to prevention, education, treatment and research.   Law and Order and Abstinence-only approaches limit the ways we can respond as a society.

     

    Perhaps a good analogy is driving.  We all know that one of the major causes of death in Canada is motor vehicle accidents.   If we took a similar approach to driving deaths as we do to substance use, we would make all driving illegal, ban automobiles and motorbikes, and arrest and charge people caught using motor vehicles or involved in the production or sale of motor vehicles.  Clearly this is not an approach that anyone would support, even though we could all agree we would like to reduce motor vehicle deaths.  So what do we do?  We create a wide range of Harm Reduction programs to try and reduce the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents while allowing people to continue driving.  Programs like seat belt laws, graduated licensing systems for new drivers, standardized traffic rules, maximum speeds, improved car design etc. etc.  We don’t view driving as a criminal matter but as a public health concern and we create policies and programs accordingly.  At the same time, we take a Law and Order approach to certain behaviours associated with risky driving, such as speeding or driving while impaired, but we accept that people are going to drive.  Harm Reduction in the area of substance use is just the same.  If we accept that people are going to use substances (and in any given year over 80% of Canadians 15 or over will use a substance) then it makes more sense to develop programs and approaches that discourage unhealthy use, encourage responsible use, and provide means for people who have more serious problems to reduce negative consequences so that they can hopefully be in a place to make healthier choices.  At the same time, there is a role for a Law and Order approach in areas such as trafficking, unregulated drug production and inappropriate public use.

     

    At East Kootenay Addiction Services, we view substance use, abuse and addiction as both a personal and a public health problem, rather than as a criminal problem.  Our aim is to provide services that reduce the harms that use can cause, whether that is by supporting someone to quit using altogether, to use in a more responsible and less harmful way, or to help them improve other areas of their life that their use may be impacting.  If we consider substance use as a personal and public health issue, then the goals for intervention can change, as can the types of interventions that are used.  This is what Harm Reduction means and research shows that programs coming from this approach are more effective in creating overall healthy change for people using and for communities as a whole.

     

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  • Addictions Treatment - Different options

    Posted on: 13-Oct-2016

    Posted by EKASS | on 13-Oct-2016 Addictions Treatment - Different options

    This is the second of two articles regarding information about treatment -- what it is and what it isn't' and the different formats that describe treatment. The series is written by East Kootenay Addiction Services' Executive Director, Dean Nicholson. The article below does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of East Kootenay Addiction Services.

    As a new story seems to come out daily about the fentanyl problem and what’s being done to address it, it would be understandable if many people were confused about what services and programs are available to assist people with substance use problems.  This article will outline some of the major components and approaches to substance use treatment and how they relate to the current fentanyl problem. 

    Firstly, it must be said that not everyone who is experiencing a problem with substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or fentanyl is necessarily ‘addicted’ in the strict clinical term.  Substance use falls along a continuum from ‘no-use’ through ‘social use’ through ‘problematic use’, and finally ‘dependent or addicted use’.  The type of services that could help will depend on where a person’s use falls on the continuum and what changes they want to make.

    Secondly, substance use problems are no longer viewed as a ‘stand-alone’ issue.  It is generally recognized that most people who struggle with substance use problems also have other concerns, such as depression or anxiety, housing and financial problems, relationship problems etc.  It is not enough to deal with the substance use; to make lasting change people often need support in a number of areas of their lives.

    With this being said, what are the different components of substance use treatment?  At East Kootenay Addictions Services (EKASS) we believe that treatment starts as soon as someone contacts us.  Reaching out for help means treatment has begun.    After that there are various services that a person could become involved with depending on their situation.

    Withdrawal Management:  Often referred to as ‘detox’ or a ‘dry out center’.  Withdrawal management assists people in the initial physical withdrawal that they may experience as they stop using substances.  This could take place at home with outside support, in a withdrawal management center such as Ponderosa House in Cranbrook, or at a local hospital when other medical complications might be present.  People are usually only in a withdrawal program for 5-10 days, depending on the substance, although some substances may take longer to taper off of.  There is no cost for approved withdrawal management services.

    Outpatient Counselling:  Outpatient counselling is often the first type of treatment that people access.  People are seen by a trained substance use counsellor who assists them in identifying the problems they are having, developing goals, implementing strategies and connecting them with other services that may be helpful.  At EKASS we see people at our offices, but can also meet people at other locations if that is easier.  There are no costs for people to access outpatient counselling at provincially funded mental health and substance use offices.

    Residential Treatment Programs:  This is what most people think of as ‘treatment’ although in reality it is just one type of service.  Residential Programs can run from 6 weeks up to 3 months or more.  The programs offer group counselling in a secure live-in environment.   In B.C. some programs have been accredited and some have not.  Being accredited means that the program has been thoroughly reviewed by an outside evaluator and that the treatment program, the facilities, the staff and the policies all meet an accepted level.  All residential treatment programs have a cost for the user.  If a residential program is run by an accredited not-for-profit society and has an agreement with the Ministry of Health, then a number of beds will be subsidized as $40.00 per day beds.  People usually access these beds through a referral from an substance use counsellor. For people on Income Assistance the program costs are usually covered.   Non-subsidized beds in not-for-profit programs typically run around $120.00 per day.  People can access these beds without a referral from a substance use counsellor.  Private for-profit residential programs can cost upwards of $15,000 per month.  The philosophy of treatment at residential programs generally falls into one of two approaches:  12 Step Programs and Holistic Programs.  The main difference between these approaches is the emphasis on the 12 Step or Minnesota Model of recovery.  Both types of programs use group counselling as a primary counselling strategy. Aboriginal residential programs will usually include aboriginal healing practices as well.  Helping people find the program that is the best match for them is part of what an substance use counsellor does when working with a client.  Residential programs have waitlists, but these can vary from a few days to a number of months, depending on the program.

    Harm Reduction Programming:  In one sense all substance use programming aims to reduce the harms associated with using.  In a more specific sense though, in relation to the fentanyl crisis this can refer to two types of programming:  Opioid Replacement Programs and the Take Home Naloxone Program. 

    Opioid Replacement Programs: are programs that help someone get off of opioids like heroin, morphine, fentanyl etc, by replacing them with another opioid, such as Methadone or Suboxone.  The purpose of going on Methadone or Suboxone is to prevent the person from going into withdrawal.  Avoiding the pain and sickness associated with withdrawal from opioids is usually the primary reason people keep using.  By having a regular dose of Methadone or Suboxone a person does not go into withdrawal and does not have to engage in the kinds of behaviours that will allow them to keep using.  People are able to stabilize their lives and begin to work on changing other problem areas.  When they are on the proper dose, people do not experience a ‘high’ from Methadone or Suboxone.  There is a lot of monitoring that goes with the program.  In the early stages people often have to get their medication each morning at a pharmacy.  They will have meetings with the prescribing physician every two to four weeks, and they will be required to provide urine samples to show that they are not misusing other opioids.  Despite some of the restrictions these requirements place on a person, research shows that people on an Opioid Replacement Program are less likely to relapse and go back to using.  This means they are at less risk of overdose than people who try to quit opioids on their own.   Furthermore, when people are maintained on an Opioid Replacement Program they are able to create stability in their lives and began working on other concerns to further improve their well-being.   Although any doctor can prescribe Suboxone after a short on-line course, one of the biggest barriers for people getting on to an Opioid Replacement Program is the lack of prescribing doctors.  At EKASS we operate a weekly Telehealth Clinic in which our clients have access to a prescribing doctor in Kamloops. 

    Take Home Naloxone Program:  The Take Home Naloxone Program was developed in large part in response to the fentanyl crisis.  Naloxone or Narcan is a drug that when taken helps to reverse an opioid overdose.  Naloxone has been around for decades and has been used by paramedics and hospital emergency departments.  In B.C. the Take Home Naloxone Program has sought to get Naloxone kits into the hands of people at risk for opioid overdose.  Kits are available at a wide range of locations and eligible people can receive a free kit after taking part in a short training program.  At EKASS we have been dispensing kits for nearly two years, and there are many other locations in the East Kootenay where people can receive free kits.

     

    This article has described some of the common components of addictions treatment in British Columbia.  For more information about services offered through EKASS please visit our website at www.ekass.com or call us at 1-800-489-4344.

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  • Addictions Treatment – What it is, and what it isn’t

    Posted on: 13-Oct-2016

    Posted by EKASS | on 13-Oct-2016 Addictions Treatment – What it is, and what it isn’t

    This is the first of two articles regarding information about treatment -- what it is and what it isn't' and the different formats that describe treatment. The series is written by East Kootenay Addiction Services' Executive Director, Dean Nicholson. The article below does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of East Kootenay Addiction Services. 

    Over the past number of months there has been a lot of media focus on the fentanyl crisis in B.C.  Many of the stories have talked about the lack of treatment, or the wait for treatment, often with the subtext that if people could have gotten treatment than the problem would have been solved.  But what exactly is ‘addictions treatment’ and how does it work?

    We typically think of ‘treatment’ as some kind of intervention that brings about a ‘cure’ or an end to the problems we’ve been having.  Antibiotics are a good example.  We are sick with an infection, we do a treatment of antibiotics which kills the bacteria, and in a few weeks we are back to our normal health.  Dealing with addiction problems is very different.   Addictions treatment does not provide a ‘cure’, nor does the problem go away.  ‘Treatment Centers’ are programs where individuals typically stay for 2-3 months.  These programs provide structure, opportunity for group and individual counselling and support, education, safety, regular food and social connection.  But despite what certain programs might say, they cannot provide a ‘cure’ to addiction.  Any program that promises to cure someone of their addiction is selling a bill of goods.

    Why isn’t there a cure for addiction or substance abuse?  Addiction and substance abuse are basically brain disorders.  People use substances for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is because they like the way substances make them feel, at least in the beginning.  Our brain is designed to turn behaviours that we do repeatedly into habits.   The thinking part of our brain doesn’t have to be involved as much, and a deeper part of our brain controls the behaviour.  Think of driving a car – when we first learned we had to pay attention to every single thing we had to do – braking, accelerating, signaling etc.  After a few months we could do most of that without actually thinking about it.  Much of driving had become habitual.  The same thing happens when we use substances.  If we use a substance enough times our brain develops a habit for using, or for using to feel a certain way.   We don’t have to think about how to use, a deeper part of the brain makes it happen.   If we use certain substances long enough, the brain actually goes through physical changes, so that the substance use is regarded as essential to feel a certain way.  As a person progresses from social use to habitual use to addicted use, the amount of choice and control that the person has over using decreases.  When a person has developed an addiction, there is a part of their brain that will control their behaviour and compel them use the substance even when they know it is harming them or that it could kill them. 

    The good news is that the brain is remarkably able to rewire itself.  New habits can be learned to replace old harmful habits.  But just as it takes time to develop a habit or an addiction, so too does it take to develop new ways of behaving.  The reality of addiction is that there is no simple way to change a brain.  Even when people want to stop using recovery is a long-term process, often with many setbacks, that requires a lot of effort.  Factor in that many people are ambivalent about changing or stopping their use, and the process becomes even more difficult.  Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, but it does mean that there is no simple ‘cure’, no ‘treatment’ that can be imposed on someone that will make their brain automatically change. 

    As a culture we have come to believe that there should be quick fixes.  We don’t like to be uncomfortable or to suffer.  We have a society built around instant gratification.  This expectation is part of what fuels people getting in to trouble with substances, and then it becomes part of what fuels people having unrealistic expectations about recovery.  Does this mean there is no hope?  Absolutely not.  Every day at East Kootenay Addiction Services we see people who are learning to reorganize their lives, develop new skills and move away from addiction towards happy and fulfilling lives.  And what makes those people successful?  They have come to recognize that there isn’t a quick fix.  Life requires ongoing effort and focus, whether that is recovering from an addiction, having a family, or building a career.  Accepting that recovery is a process and not a cure has allowed those people to work realistically and productively towards better lives.

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Upcoming Events

  • International Overdose Awareness Day
    Event Date: 31-Aug-2017
  • International Overdose Awareness Day

    Event Date: 31-Aug-2017

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 28-Jul-2017 International Overdose Awareness Day

    International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

    Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Wear Silver to show your support.

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  • Teen Empowerment and Mastery Program
    Event Date: 30-Apr-2018
  • Teen Empowerment and Mastery Program

    Event Date: 30-Apr-2018

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 10-Feb-2017 Teen Empowerment and Mastery Program

    East Kootenay Addictions' Teen Empowerment and Mastery (TEAM) Program this year will be held from Monday, April 30 to Friday, May 4, 2017. Click here to learn more about TEAM. If you are a young person interested in attending team please contact us at 1-877-489-4344 for information about how to do that.

     

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  • Rock Solid
    Event Date: 6-Sep-2017
  • Rock Solid

    Event Date: 6-Sep-2017

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 28-Aug-2015 Rock Solid

    Rock Solid running in 9 East Kootenay schools this September and October 2017

    What is Rock Solid?

    Rock Solid is a wilderness based prevention education program designed for students transitioning from elementary school to high school. The transition from elementary school to high school requires a different level of skill and independence. Research indicates that a student’s positive experience in school and their larger community has a significant influence on lifelong learning, substance use patterns, social behaviours and health.

    Rock Solid is a program that uses the theories of “Circle of Courage” and outdoor education to offer students the experience of knowing their strengths, personal limits, values and supports.  Our goal is promote healthy personal development through physical challenges and social interaction.

    Youth in the East Kootenay dramatically change their use patterns from no use to experimenting during their transition from grade 7 to 8 and 8 to 9.  We also know many do not use substances. In knowing this we believe this transition period is an ideal time to introduce Rock Solid.

    Rock Solid offers healthy connections, which are necessary when growing up safe.  Students also have lots of fun and are reminded of the importance of substance free play.

    The non-traditional setting of the outdoors, gives students the opportunity to know their personal strengths and meet community support people who can be a positive influence.  The components of Rock Solid will increase students’ knowledge of substances, personal and family strengths and community resources to keep healthy.

    Where and when does Rock Solid run?

    Rock Solid is coordinated by East Kootenay Addiction Services Society.  It has 1-2 classroom sessions and 1 day-long outdoor session.

    The program is offered to any middle/high school in the East Kootenay in collaboration with any of the three School Districts.

    Any school interested in running Rock Solid, should contact Theresa Bartraw, Substance Use Prevention Coordinator at East Kootenay Addiction Services at 1-877-489-4344

    East Kootenay Addictions Services runs similar professional development days for school staff teams.

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