A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, FNHA Medical Officer, Primary Care.
I'm really enjoying reading all the responses from community members who are participating in the FNHA Sober(er)for October Challenge!
So many of you are doing great with this challenge to improve your health and wellness! Whether you're cutting back, abstaining for the month, or continuing your journey in recovery, you can be proud of yourself for participating. And if you've slipped – as many of us do when we're dieting, for example – I encourage you to have compassion for yourself and try, try again.
People need non-judgmental, safe spaces
I've seen firsthand how beneficial non-judgmental, safe spaces can be – especially for youth. Growing up, I often visited my granny and noticed community members coming by her house while 'under the influence' or while they were 'sobering up'. My granny would always welcome them and give them a cup of coffee or a small meal. When they left, they would give her a big hug and thank her. Granny would always say something like "I'll see you soon. You stay safe."
At the time, I didn't appreciate how far some love, safe space, and non-judgmental attitudes could go toward the wellness of others. In retrospect, I can see that my wise, old granny knew that everyone in the community was family and, whether she agreed with their actions or not, she always opened her arms and home to provide that feeling of safety.
People need unconditional love
I've learned that whether we agree or disagree with our loved ones' choices, our underlying connection with our friend or family member is rooted in love. We will continue to love them unconditionally despite differences of opinion or questionable choices. So, I encourage you to approach conversations on the topic of alcohol consumption with an open heart and mind – placing safety first.
For example, a parent may disagree with their teen's choices, such as underage drinking. Although the parent disagrees, they still love their child unconditionally. The parent could choose to see this as an opportunity to have a conversation with their teen about their concerns and about how to stay safe when it comes to alcohol use.
People need healthy alternatives
Many people are turning to healthy outlets like sports, cultural activities or hobbies (dancing, music, drumming, and beading to name only a few) to keep themselves entertained or busy. They recognize the negative effects that alcohol use, even in moderation, has on them – both mentally and physically.
Some community members have told me that they are training for local, tribal and provincial competitions because they are keen on being in great shape. Find out if your community provides these types of opportunities. Training for sporting events is great for your overall wellness and can also help deter you from drinking.
We invite all Indigenous peoples across BC to join FNHA's Sober(er) for October Challenge!
Find us on social media to ask us questions, tell your stories and share your experiences Remember to use the hashtags #SobererforOctober and #FNHAwellness.