Resources for Caregivers
The following resources were compiled with spouses, parents and family members in mind. This section provides information for those who are affected by someone else's substance use and are some of our favorite materials to refer to.
Parenting can be less than a straightforward job. Especially when your kids are at the age when experimenting with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may be happening. The following resources and links to resources are provided to give factual information with tools to help your kids make healthy decision and support them when changes are necessary.
Parent Information Series
- Teaching your children to talk about their feelings
- How can I help my young child learn to get along with others?
- If you're a parent, you're a role model: How to teach your children by example
- How can I help my child if my partner is addicted?
- Helping your teen work through anger
- The truth about popular drugs
- How do I know if my teen is using drugs?
- How do I talk to my teenager about drugs?
- Raves and Club drugs: How do I protect my kids?
- Helping teens evaluate their drug use
- How bad is my teen's drinking or drug use?
- Does your teen's drug use leave you feeling like you're losing your sanity?
- How to get through to your teen
- Intervening when your teen is using drugs
- Getting help for your son or daughter who is drinking, using other drugs or gambling
- Supporting your son or daughter in recovery
Brain Development and Substance Use
The study of brain development has explored over the past decade. With new technology, significant new research has advanced our understanding of adolescent brain development and the effects of alcohol and other drug use on the developing brain. This emerging science and research is providing new insights about how teenagers make critical and life influencing decisions, including their decisions about drug use. Brain imaging studies suggest that the brain continues to develop through adolescence and into young adulthood (age 25 years). During adolescence, the parts of the brain that are responsible for expressing emotions and for seeking gratification tend to mature sooner than the regions of the brain that control impulses and that oversees careful decision making. This research suggests that maturing adolescent brain may also pose a particular risk toward drug abuse. As parents and those concerned about adolescents information about this research can help guide dialogue with young people.
Learn more through the following links:
In the last decade significant scientific discovery has provided us with insight into how the brain works, develops and adapts. The role that substances play in this picture has also began to become clearer. This science understands the adolescent brain as an organ still under development. This development is likely not complete until early adulthood. 90-95% of the brain is developed as puberty finishes and the remaining parts of the brain are not fully developed until the mid-20s. This brain still under development helps to explain the differences we see in adolescent behaviour such as regulating emotions, to weigh out risks and rewards and their attraction towards sensation-seeking behaviours. However, these behaviours are an adaptive process. Through experiencing these behaviours, adolescents are moving away from the dependence they required and thrived with as infants and children, toward independence and transitioning toward adulthood. These tendencies toward novelty and reward, peer-focused interaction and sensation-seeking all draw teens to new, unfamiliar people, experiences and opportunities. In a sense this creates inspiration for them to create their own identity and independence to eventually move out of the home and continue the journey towards maturity.
Circle of Courage
For Partners and Family MembersWhen someone in a family has an alcohol or other drug problem, everyone is affected. At first, as the problem develops, the family may not understand what is happening. The person with the problem may not see his or her use as a problem, or the person may not be completely open about what is going on.
As the problem becomes clearer, family members may have different ideas about how to deal with it. As individuals and as a unit, family members may struggle to balance their desire to help and protect the person with the need to let the person take responsibility for his or her behaviour. When faced with this situation, family members may:
- feel guilt, shame
- feel grief, depression
- feel loss of control, anxiety
- feel anger and resentment
- experience denial.
There may be:
- vague, unclear communication
- escalating conflict, breakdown of relationships
- a gradual shift in roles and responsibilities
- efforts to clean up after or otherwise rescue the person with the problem to protect him or her, or to hide the problem from others
- nagging, threatening
- counting drinks or making other attempts to check how much the person is using.
How families can help
Families can play a strong role in recovery. With support from families, people are more likely to stay in treatment and have a successful outcome. Providing that support, however, is only possible if family members take care of their own needs first.
Partners and family members need to look after their own physical and mental health. To do this, you can do the following:
- Set limits. Decide what things you will or will not do, and let your relative or partner know. This sends a message to that person to take control of his or her own behaviour. Family members sometimes “rescue” by covering up or not allowing the relative or partner to experience the consequences of his or her use. This can reduce motivation for change or even make it easier for the person to keep using.
- Make time for yourself. Keep up your interests outside the family and apart from your relative or partner.
- Consider seeking support for yourself, even if your relative or partner is not in treatment. Understanding the problem and the impact it has on you will help you cope. Consider either entering therapy for yourself or joining a self-help or family support program. Local community addiction treatment centres may offer or be aware of these programs.
- Take a look at your own substance use. Might your substance use be a cause for concern? Is your drinking or other drug use a “trigger” for the problem use of someone else in your life?
- Acknowledge and accept that sometimes you will have angry or negative feelings about the situation. Having conflicting emotions is normal. Knowing this can help you to control these emotions, so you can support your relative or partner through recovery. Try not to feel guilty about your feelings.
- Protect yourself physically, emotionally and financially, as necessary. If children are involved, keep them safe.
- Keep up your own support network. Avoid isolating yourself. Keep in touch with friends and family outside the home who can offer support.
- Don’t allow the problem to take over family life. As much as possible, keep stress low and family life normal. Continue to do family activities such as celebrating birthdays and holidays.
- Having a relative or partner with a substance use problem can also strain the relationships of family members who are not using. Different family members may see the problem differently and interact differently with the person with the problem. Family counselling can help to promote family unity, and enable family members to support each other and the person with a substance use problem.
Getting treatment for your relative or partner
It may be hard to get your relative or partner to accept help. Even if the person does realize his or her use is a problem, he or she may not see treatment as useful. The decision to seek help has to come from the person who needs it. There are, however, some ways that family members can encourage a relative or partner. Generally, a concerned and supportive approach is most effective.
Tips for helping your relative or partner
- Learn as much as you can about the causes, signs and symptoms of problem substance use. This will help you to understand and support your relative or partner in recovery.
- Communicate positively, directly and clearly. State what you want to happen, rather than criticizing your relative or partner for past behaviours. Avoiding personal criticism can help your relative or partner feel accepted while he or she is making difficult changes.
- Encourage your relative or partner to follow the treatment plan. Encourage the person to attend treatment sessions regularly and to use the support from his or her counsellor or group. Support the person’s efforts to avoid things that may trigger substance use.
- Ask your partner or relative how you can be supportive and create a safer environment (e.g., would the person prefer it if alcohol were removed from the home?).
- As your relative or partner recovers, encourage him or her to begin to take back some of the responsibilities and connections that might have been disrupted. Getting back the healthier parts of his or her life, such as family, friends, work and hobbies, can help to maintain changes and to rebuild more balanced relationships with family members.
- Recognize that recovery may not be completely smooth. Relapse is often a part of recovery. Have realistic expectations and encourage realistic goals. Prepare a plan for your response to relapse, if it should occur. A relapse can escalate to a return to problem use. If this occurs, decide on your actions and limits, and communicate these clearly to your relative or partner.
- Give hope. Remind the person that no matter how hard the struggle, recovery is possible.
Relationship with a partner
A substance use problem can profoundly affect an intimate relationship. Feelings of resentment, anger and loss of trust can lead to distance and hostility in the relationship. The non-using partner may feel betrayed due to past actions. He or she might also have taken on more responsibilities than seem fair. Over time, a partner may begin to feel more and more in a parental role, eroding the couple’s bond. If the partner with the substance use problem does reduce or stop use, it will still take time, patience and a great deal of effort to rebuild what might have been lost. The partner might have been using substances to deal with stress and need to learn new skills to deal with life pressures.
If your partner is willing, meet with his or her counsellor. A meeting can help you to better understand treatment and to learn ways to be supportive and encourage progress.
Support groups for family members can also help. Later on, as your partner enters the action or maintenance stage, consider couple therapy with a marital or couple therapist who understands addiction. Such therapy can help improve communication and strengthen the relationship.
- Fernie - Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at the Arts Station from 6 to 9 PM
- Invermere - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at the Pynelogs from 6 to 9 PM
- Golden - Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Civic Center from 6 to 9 PM
- Cranbrook - Friday, March 9, 2018 at the Key City Theatre Foyer from 6 to 9 PM
- Kimberley - A soft launch in April 2018. Location to be determined
- Creston - May 2018. Location to be determinedFor more information contact Jen Driscoll at 250-489-4344 or Alison Ko at 250-919-7673
The Compassion Project
Posted on: 19-Jan-2018
Posted by EKASS | on
Local Harm Reduction Teams throughout the East Kootenay have gathered material for The Compassion Project - an art show created for the purpose of sparking curiosity about values, beliefs and assumptions surrounding drug use in your community. The ultimate goal is to build compassion through increased awareness and understanding.
Community members who have volunteered to participate in the project had the opportunity to contribute a meaningful photo and were asked, "How do you want to be understood?" and "What is it like to be you?" The collection of stories, information and photos will come together to create an art exhibit that will be displayed in communities throughout the East Kootenay beginning in March of 2018.The spring events will be lead by Warren Hooley, an aboriginal facilitator and practicing artist, who is a member of the IndigenEYEZ leadership team. Warren will guide event participants through a series of activities with the intention of experiencing a felt sense of connection. Events will be held in:
What is Harm Reduction?
Posted on: 02-Nov-2016
Posted by EKASS | on
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.
Addictions Treatment - Different options
Posted on: 13-Oct-2016
Posted by EKASS | on
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.×
The Compassion Project
Event Date: 18-Jan-2018
Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on
Local Harm Reduction Teams will be gathering material for The Compassion Project - an art show created for the purpose of sparking curiosity about values, beliefs and assumptions surrounding drug use in your community. The ultimate goal is to build compassion through increased awareness and understanding.
Community members who volunteer to participate in the project will have the opportunity to contribute a meaningful photo if desired, and will be asked: “How do you want to be understood?”, and “What is it like to be you?” The collection of stories, information and photos will come together to create an art exhibit that will be displayed in communities throughout the East Kootenay in the spring of 2018.
Your Voice is Important!
How do you want to be understood?
What is it like to be you?
International Overdose Awareness Day
Event Date: 31-Aug-2018
Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on
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.×
Event Date: 12-Sep-2018
Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on
Rock Solid running for 10 East Kootenay schools during the fall of 2018 What is Rock Solid?
Rock Solid running for 10 East Kootenay schools during the fall of 2018
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.×