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December 18, 2008
For immediate release

Details Released on First Stages of Implementation for Youth Strategy

Health

Details on the implementation of the first stages of the PEI Youth Substance Use and Addiction Strategy are being released today.

Government has identified initial priorities for enhancing youth substance use and addiction programming based on the results of public consultations and recommendations from a government and community-based advisory committee and three working groups.

“The development of new programming is a complex task,” said Health Minister, Doug Currie. “Our first priorities are to establish a day treatment program, an aftercare program, and a comprehensive prevention, education and early intervention program for youth and families, through various forms of media and in collaboration with communities across the Island. These core programs are needed for the continued development of supports to youth and families dealing with substance abuse and addiction.”

Over recent months, the advisory committee and working groups consulted with experts in the addictions field, examined best practices, studied treatment models in other provinces and helped to identify initial priority areas. These groups will continue to develop further recommendations in the areas of youth detox, after-hours support, family support, long-term care and referral processes.

The new Youth Substance Use and Addiction Treatment Day Program will be located in the Charlottetown area. Planning is underway to secure a site for the program. Details on when the treatment program will open will be announced once the site is determined, staff are hired, programming has been developed and any other necessary preparations are finalized.

The province will hire six full time staff to begin program development and implementation for the first stages of the strategy. As the treatment program becomes operational, government will secure teaching support and other resources that may be required.

“These first steps are essential to building enhanced supports to youth and their families who are dealing with substance issues,” said Margaret Kennedy, manager of community mental health and addictions with the Department of Health. “The treatment program and community-based programming will complement the services currently offered by professionals working in this field. Program staff will collaborate with existing services in schools as well as through community-based youth addiction counsellors, police, correctional services, youth workers, community organizations, mental health services and other supports.”

The treatment program will operate within the structure of addiction services at the Department of Health. Youth addiction counsellors across the province will assess youth to determine if they should be referred to the Day program. The program will offer a therapeutic approach to supporting youth and families dealing with substance abuse and addiction. Individual, group and family counselling, recreational activities, life skills development and educational curriculum and other services will be built into the treatment program and will be tailored to meet individual needs. Next steps include securing a site for the treatment program, hiring staff and finalizing program development.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

YOUTH SUBSTANCE USE AND ADDICTIONS STRAGEGY

How did the strategy come together ?

Over the past year, the PEI Youth Substance Use and Addiction Strategy was developed through extensive research done through a community and government-based advisory committee and three working groups. Representatives from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Office of the Attorney General (Community and Correctional services) and Department of Social Services and Seniors are on the planning committees. The working groups were formed early this year and met regularly to establish general directions and detailed planning in the areas of prevention, education, early intervention, treatment, counseling and after care.

The working groups consulted with experts in the addictions field, including representatives from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA) to examine best practices. They also studied treatment and prevention programs in all of the Atlantic provinces and across the country to provide initial recommendations for programming and services on PEI.

What areas are identified as top priorities for the Strategy?

Initially, the strategy will include the development of a day treatment program for youth as well as enhanced community-based programming in the areas of prevention, education and early intervention.

While it is important to broaden the range of treatment options available for Island youth and families, planning groups have recommended that a comprehensive education, prevention and early intervention program be developed for Island communities across the province.

Youth Substance Abuse and Addictions Treatment Program:

What types of services will the treatment program offer?

The provincial program will offer counseling, educational curriculum, life skills development, gambling addiction support, recreational activities, family and parental support and nearby supervised housing if required. The program will offer one-on-one treatment, group treatment and an individualized case process tailored to client needs. As the program develops, there will be a maximum of 10 youth participants for each program duration of eight weeks.

Where will the treatment program be located?

Planning groups recommended that the treatment program be located in a major urban area with a variety of recreational and service supports located nearby. Charlottetown was chosen based on its high youth population and service demands for the Charlottetown and surrounding areas (i.e. Cornwall, Stratford, Rustico).

What staff and other resources are being acquired to further develop and implement the programming?

The province will hire six full-time staff to begin program development and implementation for the first stages of the strategy. As the treatment, prevention, education and early intervention programming becomes operational, government will secure teaching support and other resources as required.

How will youth access the day program?

Youth can be referred to youth addiction counsellors through one of the five addiction centres located across the province. Youth will be first counselled and assessed on an individual basis for appropriateness or readiness for referral to extended treatment programming. During the assessment process, youth counsellors may work with other health professionals to determine the appropriate treatment process to meet the individual and their family’s needs.

What services are currently available on PEI to support youth and families dealing with substance use and addiction?

There is a range of treatment, prevention, education and early intervention efforts offered through addiction services, schools, hospitals, correctional services, and community groups across the province. Program staff will collaborate with existing services in schools or through youth addiction counsellors, correctional services, youth workers, community organizations, mental health services, cultural group representatives for special populations such as the aboriginal community, and other supports.

There are also two youth-focused detox beds at Mt. Herbert. The new programming effectively builds on the range of prevention, treatment and early intervention efforts already offered across the province. Youth assessed to be in need of long-term residential care are referred to the Portage long-term care facility in Sussex, New Brunswick. Approximately 10 to 15 PEI youth are referred to the Portage facility each year.

Public Awareness/Education:

How is the province planning to educate youth and parents on the effects of alcohol and other drug use and abuse?

The province will build prevention, education and early intervention programming in collaboration with communities across the Island. Key activities include establishing an annual community and government-based stakeholder forum, developing community based prevention and education activities, building online information and interactive web-based resources for youth and parents and continuing to review and enhance school-based prevention, education and early intervention initiatives. The province will also develop a multimedia public awareness campaign for parents and youth on the risks and consequences of substance abuse and addiction.

Next steps:

When will new programming be available to youth?

Government plans to begin implementation of prevention, education and early intervention programming right away. Over the coming months, the public will see media and community-based messages and activities which communicate the risks and consequences of the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

In order to implement the new treatment program, government will first work to secure a location in the Charlottetown area, hire staff, finalize program development and complete any other necessary preparations. Work will be carried out as quickly as possible to offer new programming to the public. Government will determine an opening date for the treatment program as the required activities unfold.

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Media Contact: Maureen Flanagan-LeClair
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