Sober(er) for October: Recovery and Harm-Reduction for Youth


​​A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer


If you're trying to quit or cut down on your use of alcohol or any other substance, an important step that can help you recover your health and wellness is getting connected with a circle of safe, caring people. A supportive community can be a major source of strength.

Whether you choose to reduce or abstain, here are some tips and resources that may be helpful so that you don't have to journey alone:

“Buddy up" for success

If you're trying to quit or cut down, connecting with a friend or loved one on the same journey can help your own.

When we “buddy up" on our wellness path, the journey becomes a shared experience and can lead to greater accountability. We can help encourage and motivate each other, and see things from different perspectives.

Ensure your circle of care is safe

Safety precautions should be considered when accessing and seeking harm-reduction or support services, such as going with a family member or close friend, and being careful about who you interact with while there.

When accessing health care towards recovery, youth may find themselves feeling uncomfortable or nervous in new environments. This is a normal response.

An FNHA Addictions Specialist with the Interior Regional Team, Debra Robbins, says, “As healthcare providers, it's our responsibility to ensure you feel safe, comfortable, and respected, while keeping your case confidential. Youth should speak to us if they feel uncomfortable with others who are also accessing test sites or treatment centres. We're here to help you."

Make and share your plan with others

If you're going to use alcohol or drugs, it's essential – and responsible – to have a safety plan. That might mean letting family or friends know where you are, making sure that you have a safe ride home, or making sure a Naloxone kit is on hand. Never use alone.

Stay safe when visiting in-person during the pandemic

Visit only with people you trust, who are in your “bubble," or while physically distancing (staying six feet apart and/or wearing masks). Consider visiting outdoors if possible. This means connecting with family or friends or others who are already in your circle of care. Or, if you are isolated, it might mean finding a bubble / new place to connect with the supports and services that you need, while following all public health guidelines.

Foundry offers youth (ages 12 to 24) health and wellness resources, services and supports – online and through integrated service centres in communities across BC. As well as in-person supports, Foundry offers virtual drop-in counselling sessions, peer-support check-ins, and group offerings to youth and their caregivers.

Connect virtually when in-person visits are not possible

If trying a new virtual tool is something you are open to / able to access, one of these might be a good option:

Lifeguard app is a harm-reduction smartphone app designed to keep people safe when using drugs. It automatically alerts emergency responders if the person using becomes unconscious or unable to function.

The FNHA's new Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Service provides online access to health providers who specialize in mental wellness and substance use. The service is available five days per week by phone or online. You can also access support from the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day.

CultureforLife is a site for Indigenous youth who know the value of culture and living their best life, but need a little help getting there. CultureforLife's Hope for Wellness line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention by phone and chat for all Indigenous peoples across Canada.

Seek youth-specific treatment

For some, navigating the journey to quit using can require additional help from others. The FNHA funds youth-specific treatment and healing for First Nations youth at Nenqayni Wellness Centre on Secwepemc territory.

Remember: You are the owner of your personal health and wellness journey, but you don't have to travel that journey alone.

Be well,

Dr. Kelsey

FNHA Medical Officer

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