If you, or a young person you care about, is struggling with drug addiction, the free Drug Intervention Program (DIP) can help. Specifically tailored for youth aged 15-24, DIP is an outreach program from Youth Impact Jeunesse, which recently extended into Albert County with funding from the Bennett and Albert County Health Care (BACH) Foundation. Program Manager Jonathan Thibodeau explains that “there is a rise in addiction in most regions of the province and some of this seems to be correlated to the pandemic.”
Some clients contact DIP on their own, while others are referred to the program. “We offer help with alcohol, marijuana, and, of course, all the harder substances.” DIP can be reached by calling 506-856-2633 or by visiting youthimpact.org.
These services are confidential. “Youth need to be able to access counselling without the stigma that can come with addiction issues. Of course, safety comes first and if the youth is a danger to themselves or others, we have a duty to report,” explains Thibodeau.
“We always ask the client if they have a preference in gender for their worker as [that] is the best approach to trauma-informed care,” says Thibodeau. In this case, trauma-informed care reflects the recognition that past traumas are often linked to a youth’s drug use. “A lot of our clients have been through trauma. The youth are typically contacted as soon as we receive the referral. There is no waitlist.”
“All our staff members have a different style and personalities and sometimes our referral services will recommend a certain worker for the youth,” he continues. “One of the workers knows a lot about nature and its healing properties, one is a stand-up comedian, one is a great emphatic listener, but all are greatly experienced in working with youth.”
Since every youth’s addiction and situation is unique, “every aspect of the program is tailored to the youth, from meeting frequency, location and duration. It will take the time it takes and we support them through the process. Some youths are in the program for a few months, some for a few years,” Thibodeau adds.
An 18-year-old in the program tells potential clients, “Don’t be afraid to be open and honest. I needed some-one to talk to about my addiction and the program helped me understand what I wanted to know about.”
After James (not his real name) overdosed on prescription medicines, he began working with DIP to eliminate negative influences and focus on the positive aspects of his life. He met and began a relationship with a new romantic partner. Things were going well until he lost his full-time job. Stressful life events, such as unexpected unemployment, can challenge recovery, but James stuck with the program. DIP helped him search for employment and consider new educational goals. He found a new job and has plans to return to school, but more significantly, James navigated through his stress without relapsing into prescription medicine abuse. He credits this accomplishment to the program’s consistent and reliable help.
“We help [our clients] establish their own goals in various areas of their lives as the drug use is typically a symptom of other issues,” says Thibodeau. Some youths in the program have asked for help in cutting back marijuana use to improve their grades for graduation, while others worked on ending addictions to amphetamines and securing employment to leverage themselves out of prostitution.
“The program is actually really helpful,” writes a 17-year-old in the program. Another admits, “I thought it wouldn’t help, but just try. Things will work out.”
The youth care workers offer a no-pressure approach to overcoming the youth’s challenges. Many counselling sessions are as casual as going for a drive and drinking coffee while chatting. “Our focus is on building a supportive relationship,” says Thibodeau. “We encourage the youth by reminding them of their goals, offering a different perspective and non-judgmental approach. A youth can leave the program and come back if things take a turn for the worse.”
“We also remind them that at the end of the day, they have to make their own decisions in life and we can’t always be there to stop them from using drugs. The cycle of addiction offers many ups and downs. We try to be the one true constant in their lives.”
Thibodeau goes on to advise that “we can also assist families through the [detox/rehab] process. We visit clients in rehab and help them stay connected to their community and assist them with discharge planning and reintegration. We also help clients and families navigate the court system.”
Youth Impact Jeunesse is located in the Youth QUEST Central building at 199 St. George Blvd. in Moncton. “Youth QUEST Central is a drop-in center that hosts several programs to help youth in a variety of areas such as food insecurities, hygiene supplies, employment and education, as well as hosting activities and group workshops. These programs are open to any youth from 16-24 and youth from anywhere can access them. If youth from the Drug Intervention Program want to access the services, we can help with transportation,” says Thibodeau.
If you would like to access the Drug Intervention Program services, you are encouraged to call 506-856-2633 or visit youthimpact.org to learn more.
If you would like to volunteer with Youth Impact Jeunesse or make donations of needed goods, such as hand sanitizer and deodorant, please visit youthimpact.org to learn more.
As Thibodeau points out, for every youth they are able to help, the help goes beyond the life of that one person.