For most people, having a family member arrested is probably one of the most upsetting things that could happen to you.
But if that family member is an addict and they’re under the age of 18, it’s either a reality or perhaps something you’re hoping for. At least, that was the case with my family.
Right now, the resources for youth drug abusers and their families in this province is pretty dismal. Although Marymound operates a five-bed youth drug stabilization unit, there is currently no detox centre for specifically for youth in Manitoba.
At Marymound, the youth sees a slew of doctors and counsellor, going through a condensed drug education program. After they complete this process, the centre can no longer hold them and they are released. The maximum time they are able to hold them is a paltry four days.
My family is familiar with this program, and granted, we were referred to counsellor from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and various doctors and psychiatrists, but the wait list to see a counsellor, particularly for family counseling, was very long and the process of getting our family member help outside of Marymound was generally both tedious and intimidating.
So we were basically left on our own, only to watch the person we loved slip back into the same destructive habits. It was only after being arrested, after which they were put on probation and had to adhere to a strict curfew, that we felt at least some progress was made. Now we would at least know where they were at 4 a.m.
It will probably be a while before a detox centre for youth is opened in this province and progress on this issue is being made, but what can be done right now is people can start talking about it. Drug addiction is seen as a problem that affects people at the bottom of the rung. It’s the junkie on north Main that you drive by at two in the morning, not the kid who lives in Whyte Ridge.
So people don’t talk about it because they’re embarrassed, ashamed and afraid people will judge them. They become more and more isolated, and nothing ever changes.
I don’t think families should have anything to be ashamed of when they’re trying to help themselves and their loved ones suffering from addiction. If anyone should be ashamed, it should be the provincial government for not being more proactive about this issue.