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Action, not talk, needed on addictions
Parents' concerns voiced during National Addictions Awareness Week

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

More action and less talk needs to be done to stop drug and alcohol addictions in Inuvik, one parent said during National Addictions Awareness Week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Rachel Kasook, left, with her three-year-old granddaughter Whitney, expressed her concerns about the drug and alcohol addictions in Inuvik and wants to see action, not talk. - Samantha Stokell/NNSL photo

During the Parents' Talk on Drugs, parents had a chance to see various drugs and paraphernalia, learn about behaviour of people on drugs and ask questions. For Inuvik resident Rachel Kasook, who attended the session, talk is good, but only up to a point.

"When we talk about it, what do we get out of it? It's not a waste of time, but I don't see a point because there's a long way to go with people," Kasook said. "There's all this talk about 'educate, educate' and maybe it's all they can do. I've been to meetings and talked and it's hard and pointless because there's no solution."

Kasook lives within a community of Inuvik that has drug and alcohol addictions. She used to be an alcoholic herself but has been sober for a long time. She sees younger and younger kids getting into smoking and drinking and wants to see a difference made.

"Police are burning out and don't have time, social workers are burning out. There's too big of a load and nothing can be done," Kasook said. "Kids need an education and a good job to get anywhere. They can't live on the streets. That's not a good career."

Delores Harley, one of the organizers of National Addictions Awareness Week said that the parents' talk provides a support network for parents with concerns. It gives them a chance to ask questions and provide suggestions.

At last year's talk, parents spoke of how Samuel Hearne Secondary School and the RCMP detachment didn't work together. Now, police routinely patrol the school, volunteer at events at the school and have brought in drug dogs.

"It's good to build that trust better so you know who you're talking to if (the RCMP) do come to your door," Harley said. "It's good to know (the RCMP) on a different level, not on a work level. Students aren't scared of them anymore."

The Not Us campaign, which promotes a drug-free community and runs events such as family nights at Ingamo Hall or the Lights On program at the high school, is trying to fill in the gaps to keep people occupied with activities other than drinking or doing drugs.

"Not one organization can do it on their own," Harley said. "It has to be a bunch of us together."

Staff Sgt. Wayne Norris agrees that the organizations need to work together. The detachment has gone to the schools to give different presentations in the hopes of discouraging youth from starting to use drugs or alcohol.

The most common drug used in Inuvik right now is marijuana, but Norris thinks the programs are needed to keep the harder drugs at bay.

"Obviously there are other challenges in crack and cocaine and other types of drugs. It's a definite positive that we don't have that here," Norris said. "The impacts are felt a lot more severely if you're hooked on meth or crack-cocaine. You're instantly hooked, so we need to be vigilant."

While the Not Us campaign and RCMP work on prevention, Kasook believes more needs to be done to help the people who already have addictions. She likes the idea of wellness camps, but notes that once the people come back to the town, the same temptations rise up and make recovery more difficult. A rehabilitation centre in Inuvik could help the people who have made the first step of deciding to change their life.

"The challenging thing is if people around you are drinking. It's really lonely," said Patricia Kyle, manager of the community counselling programs. "We're helping people find friends, support networks and activities that don't involve drinking or drugs."

Community Counselling in Inuvik, run by the Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority, offers counselling for individuals, families and couples. For individuals facing addictions, the counsellor and individual create a treatment plan together based on the goals of the individual, such as complete abstinence or reducing use of a certain drug or habit.

Part of the treatment plan could involve other community resources, treatment in other facilities in the NWT or even out of the territory.

"We meet a person where they're at, because if they're mandated to take counselling, they might not recognize within themself they have to change and we adapt," Kyle said. "In consultation and partnerships with other organizations we look at how to offer the support the individual needs."

Kasook believes that although the services have to be available, the only time change will come is when the individual decides to quit or reduce their addiction. Kasook chose to quit drinking for her kids.

"I just got tired of it. I just turned my back and walked away," Kasook said about her addiction. "A counsellor helped, and sure made a difference."

The Inuvik Regional Hospital does have a withdrawal management, or detox, protocol to help people trying to break free of their addiction. People using community counselling can either self-refer or be referred by other organizations.

For more information contact Community Counselling or the Inuvik Regional Hospital.

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