For young adults struggling with drug addiction, it may be hard to know where to go or who to ask for help. Fortunately, there is an option that is free and convenient: Youth Impact offers one-on-one addiction counselling. With the support of the Bennett and Albert County Health Care (BACH) Foundation, the program is now expanding into rural Albert County.
The Drug Intervention Program is available for anyone from 15-24 years of age. There is no cost for the program and no waiting list. It is completely confidential and voluntary. It’s up to the person with the addiction to sign up.
In most cases, the youth will meet with the same youth care worker throughout the program. Rather than formal appointments, the two have comfortable conversations in which they get to know each other. They might meet in a coffee shop, school or health care centre, or just talk in the car while the youth care worker drives. The key is that they choose a time and place where their conversation is confidential and the youth feels safe.
As one participant states, he likes the fact that he “can be brutally honest about his addictions” when talking with his youth care worker.
During meetings, they discuss the client’s goals. Some join the program because they feel their drug addictions are an obstacle to getting a job. Others might want to finish high school or improve a relationship with a girlfriend / boyfriend.
Setting goals and being reminded of the goals throughout the program makes it easier for the person to take the steps in reducing drug use. For example, one client started using marijuana in grade 8 and was a daily user when he joined the Drug Intervention Program in grade 10. He and his care worker started with small steps, such as turning down marijuana once during a week. Once he did this, he realized it wasn’t a “big deal” and he accepted the next step of turning it down more often. Over the course of the program, his grades went from the 50s to 70s, his relationships improved, and he overcame his addiction.
“We look at the entire life of the person,” says Jonathan Thibodeau, Manager of the Drug Intervention Program.
The youth care workers are available even for problems that are not drug-related. For example, they might talk about how to deal with bullying at school or at home. The care workers help the youth build self-confidence and learn healthy coping mechanisms.
A strength-based approach is used throughout the program, Thibodeau explains. “The focus is on the positive, and being supportive and understanding. When something bad happens, we try to find the positive part of it.”
The program is done at the pace of the client. The youth decides when to meet, how often and for how long. Some people see their care workers twice a week and others just once a month. The counselling might last for a few months or a couple years. It’s up to the young adult to decide.
If you are considering joining the program yourself, one of the current participants suggests “just give it a try.” He didn’t think the program would help but he stopped smoking “weed” within a week of joining. “Just try and things will work out,” he concludes.
The foundation raises funds for staff training and equipment purchases for the Albert County Health Community Health Centre, and supports community initiatives including Tele-Drive Albert County, Sistema-Hillsborough, Connecting Albert County, Hillsborough After-school Drop-in, Imagination Library, Literacy Express and much more. You can learn more and donate at www.bachfoundation.com