Starting the treatment and recovery process for prescription drug addiction

  • Posted on: 23 September 2009
  • By: admin

Over the past months, Sandy Lake developed and implemented a two-week treatment program for prescription drug users.

The intervention project was designed by a working group consisting of Chief and Council, the Nurse-in-Charge, Sandy Lake Health Authority, and other parties, in response to the overwhelming need for support and treatment to help prescription drug users quit their addiction. 

Thirteen individuals completed the program, which included a seven-day detox period followed by a week-long out-of-community recovery and treatment period. 

Sandy Lake remains committed to include preventative measures in the fight against prescription drug use in the community.  Chief and Council continue to work closely with nursing staff, Health Authority staff, and the police.

The following is one person's account of their experience with the Quay Kee Kah Bawin Healing Camp.

"Hi, I'm a SandyLake band member and I'm writing to tell you people about my experience with the Quay Kee Kah Bawin Healing Camp.  I'm addicted to oxycontin.  I've been using for about four years now.  I hit rock bottom when Child & Family Services threatened to take my kids away from me.  I wanted to run away, to take my kids away from the rez, but then I realized I couldn't run away from my problems.  That my love for oxy would follow me wherever I went.  It was about that time when our chief, Adam Fiddler and our head nurse, Marie Elaine, started talking about this program.  They wanted to try to help people like me.  I was really interested about what they were talking about.  I wanted to join but I was afraid of being judged.  I wanted help but was scared.  I was ashamed and I had no confidence in myself.  I didn't know where I was going to leave my kids.  I thought, would they still be there when I finished?  Or would Child & Family Services take them while I was there?  I had so many questions, so many doubts.  Would I get the help I need?

On the night of August 23rd, one of the Health Staff came to my house and asked if I was going to join the program.  I rushed around to get ready.  I needed a place to leave my kids.  I had to get all my stuff together, what I was going to take with me.  I didn't know we were going into a lockdown, that we had to stay where they had arranged for us to go.  We all thought this place was going to be a drop-in centre or something.  We didn't know that we had to stay there.

When we got there the next morning, we didn't know what to expect.  Who was going to be there?  What were they going to think of us?  Were we going to be judged?  It was scary, we didn't know what to think.  As the day went on, we saw our friends, the people who helped one another get our daily fix.  As we settled in, we began to talk about our problems, why we were there, who was supporting us, who wasn't and everything else.

There was a lot of people there coming and going, a lot of people who wanted to help us.  These people made us realize they were there for us, they cared for us and they showed us lots of love.

Our first four nights were the hardest.  We were sleepless, we all stayed up.  There were people who helped us with all the withdrawals.  They listened to us cry, talk and scream.  Our Chief Adam Fiddler was there through it all.  He saw us when we were at our worst, he was there to support us.  It was nice to know that he was fighting this disease with us.  The Health Staff was volunteering their time, they came at eight hour shifts on top of their regular jobs.  They put in a lot of their own time, they didn't have to be there for us but they were.

We learned a lot while we were there.  It was hard to admit that we were drug addicts.  As the days went on we got stronger.  We were able to talk about our problems, our demons.  We became close to one another.  We all leaned on each other when the going got tough.  We all learned that we weren't perfect but to be the best we can be.  We all support each other, it was nice to know we weren't alone.

At the end of the first week, we were starting to smile, laugh and have fun.  We made it, we were feeling great.

We went to a camp out on the land for the second week.  We were fishing, hunting and rabbit snaring.  We went out on the boat early after breakfast and then we came back to have lunch or supper then we were out again.  It was fun, we were getting our life back.  It was nice to wake up in the morning (without withdrawals), to wake up to a beautiful morning, to another wonderful day, we were feeling great.

As the week out on the land was coming to an end, some of us started getting scared, scared of the real world (they protected us).  They had created a safe haven for us.  I will quote one of the workers, he said, we were flying a kite, we were holding on to one another's kite to keep us safe, to keep flying.  But there is a time to let go, to let us fly alone.  It was scary to think we were going to fly alone, to go out into the real world again.

We are home now.  We supported each other, we know we are not alone, that we have each other to hold to, to get each other up when we fall down.  We get together at least once a week.  We are stronger people now.  The Health Staff told us, when we first came in we were all down, we had no confidence in ourselves, we had no hope, we had no smile.  Now we are smiling, laughing and so full of hope.  We have our lives back.

I just wanted to tell my story to somebody out there.  There is hope, there is help.  Reach out, somebody will be there to help you up.  Don't be afraid, people care, somebody loves you.

And to the people who have somebody in your family or your friends who use, don't be quick to judge.  If they fall, help them up.  Don't put us down, don't be quick to judge us.  Help us up and don't accuse us, we are not perfect.  We are humans who make mistakes.

Thanks to the SandyLake Band, to the local nurses who helped, and to the Sandy Lake Health Authority for putting this program together.  Thank you for believing in us, thank you for making this happen.  But best of all, thank you for giving back our lives.  Thanks a lot."

-One of the lucky 13 (there were 13 participants in this program)