Offering an open door for those struggling with addiction

Hope & Area Transition Society offers free counselling for those struggling with substance abuse issues

Hope & Area Transition Society (HATS) offers counselling at their Adult Addictions program. People struggling with substance abuse

“Addiction is often covering up a lot of pain,” said Roxanne Turcotte, counsellor for the Adult Addictions program offered by Hope & Area Transition Society (HATS.) “The root of addiction is often past trauma that an individual hasn’t dealt with. The way to deal with addiction, according to Turcotte, is to get to the root of the trauma, and to help a person find their way out of it.

This can often come in stages, with people making milestones that might not seem significant to the average person; for example, going from meth to cigarettes, or drinking less.

People from all walks of life come into Turcotte’s office looking for help.

Each case is different. It’s about assessing the situation, and finding the best possible strategy to help. Clients have to come in with an idea of how Turcotte can help them — by having the person involved in their treatment plan, they are taking ownership of their recovery.

“Some clients are not traditionally who you may think of as being dependent on alcohol or drugs,” said Turcotte.

“Professionals, moms and dads, even children are part of the population that make up the individuals who struggle with substance abuse.”

Drugs and alcohol typically mask deeper problems and often unaddressed mental health issues. The user often turns to alternative substances as a form of self-medication and to cope.

How does Turcotte help a person identify their pain, so they can begin to address those issues?

One piece at a time. Turcotte is an open door, one that listens.

“Often clients will find the solutions to their own problems, they just need a sounding board.”

Turcotte maintains that her clients well-being and confidentiality are of utmost importance, and will even meet clients outside of her office location to protect their identity.

“There’s a stigma around it, and people are sometimes apprehensive about coming to HATS, for fear of being recognized, or what people might say.”

Addiction is a compulsion, and one that has taken people with it. “I have seen it destroy lives, families, careers — I know what it is to be in the grip of something that seems to have control of you. I know what it is to want to leave this reality, but the only problem with leaving this reality, is that you have to come back and acknowledge the pain at some point, or it will acknowledge you.” — quote from an addict.

Turcotte refers people to treatment centres and works closely with the Fraser Health Authority Treatment Centre to secure beds as needed.

“I work with a harm reduction model, which revolves around keeping the client safe, while using; whether that’s using with a buddy, or making sure their needles are completely sterile.”

Fentanyl is a big problem right now, according to Turcotte, along with crystal meth, heroine and crack; there are also the cannabis smokers, who combine alcohol and pot.

“People who suffer from addiction affect their partners, family, parents, children, and everyone around them,” said Turcotte, whose purpose is to help them maintain and manage.

Recovery is a difficult and long process, but it is possible with consistency and support. According to Turcotte, an individual needs the entire package to successfully recover.

She uses a bio-psycho-social-spiritual model and urges family to be involved, as well as encouraging AA meetings.

“AA meetings gives sufferers a sense of community, belonging and purpose, where they can discuss past experiences with addiction in a safe environment.”

The best thing about Turcotte is that her services are free of charge.  Individuals and families are welcome to book hourly sessions with her through HATS at 604-869-5111. She has drop in hours on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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