Pubdate: Wed, 07 Dec 2005
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Terrace Standard
Author: Dustin Quezada
Bookmark: (Treatment)


The manager of Northwest Addiction Services believes helping people
with substance abuse is a duty for the community as a whole. That's
why the local agency has formed a community advisory committee that
will meet once a month for an hour.

Doug Sandwell, a counsellor and manager with the service, says the
committee's goal is to establish a link between itself and the community.

"What we need is a two-way exchange of information from the agency to
the community," said Sandwell. "We need to let the community know what
kinds of services, knowledge and education we provide and the
community needs to tell us its needs and ways to improve (addiction)

Sandwell says the agency offers six kinds of services.

It operates a youth residential facility in Terrace that houses six 12
to 19-year-olds from across B.C. battling alcohol and drug dependency
for 28-day stays.

The five broad counselling services it addresses are: outpatient
counselling for adults and referrals to other services; family and
youth help that extends into the school system; counselling for mental
health patients also fighting an addiction problem; counselling from
First Nation-specific counselling; and help for problem gamblers.

The main addiction problem in Terrace remains alcohol, says Sandwell,
citing people have a problem when substances affect child care, work
or their ability to drive.

Visits in the last year for the agency's services are up, though
Sandwell said expanded services make it hard to put a figure on the
rise. That's one reason for the advisory committee.

"We'd like to raise the awareness in the community of alcohol, drug
and gambling addiction because it's affecting the well-being of people
here," Sandwell said.

The advisory committee has met four times in its infancy, what
Sandwell calls a recruitment stage.

He is hoping to have a broad community representation.

In particular, more youth, more representatives from Thornhill and
surrounding communities and more of what Sandwell calls ordinary citizens.

The first meetings were strongly attended by professionals those
who are already involved on a day-to-day basis with social issues.

"Interested people don't have to be professionals," Sandwell said.
"They just have to be concerned citizens...the door is open."

If the advisory committee develops, said Sandwell, members will come
up with their own projects.

A similar committee in Kitimat that has operated for years created
coasters with anti drinking and driving messages that it circulated to
area restaurants and bars.

Time will tell what the committee might accomplish in its goals but
Sandwell is clear of what the community needs.

"A detox or withdrawal management facility is needed here," Sandwell
said. "Right now, the closest one is in Prince George and that's far
from ideal.

"Also, we need supportive housing for those having difficulty managing
their (dependency) problem...a place that enforces rules about
responsible drinking and partying."

Sandwell says those needs would be met if the community expressed an
interest =AD and the funding is made available.

Sandwell says people have unreasonable expectations of what the agency
he manages can do.

"People walk around town and see people drunk in the park and say,
`here's Northwest Addiction Services...why haven't they fixed that?'"
Sandwell said.

Sandwell says he and other counsellors don't have the power to
forcefully stop people from drinking in the park.

"We're not going to do it by ourselves," said Sandwell of solving
addiction problems. "We're a piece of making a change but we never
imagined to solve it ourselves."

Sandwell says the advisory committee has been a long-planned

"It's almost part of our mandate to have a formal link with the
community as a non-profit organization," he said. "We have to be
answerable to the community and our funders (the Northern Health

The next scheduled meeting will take place Jan. 16, 2006 at the Youth
Opportunites building on Lakelse Ave.

Northwest Addiction Services, a program of Terrace and District
Community Social Services, has been helping addicts for 15 years.

Those interested in being part of the community advisory committee can
call Doug or Maria at 638-8117.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin