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January 6, 2010
For immediate release

Youth Addictions Day Treatment Program Officially Underway


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The Provincial Youth Addictions Day Treatment Program is now operating, says Premier Robert Ghiz and Minister of Health Doug Currie.

“By launching this program, we are meeting a further commitment to Island youth and families,” Premier Ghiz said. “Unfortunately, the problem of youth addiction and substance abuse affects far too many people – but this new program will do a great deal to address the impact these challenges have on many Islanders.”

“The new program will dovetail well with existing addictions programs,” Minister Currie said. “Government is committed to developing supports for Island youth and families who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. With this program, we are able to offer support to Island youth who require more focussed, intensive treatment than what is offered through local community addiction services.”

The Youth Addictions Day Treatment Program, named the Strength Program, is located in an approximate 5,000 square-foot section of the Royalty Centre off Enman Crescent in Charlottetown. The program also includes supervised housing for those youth assessed to be in need of that service while in the program. The housing component of the program is being offered at a location in the Cornwall area.

Each Strength Program runs for eight weeks, Monday to Friday. A maximum of 10 youth, ranging in age from 13 to 18 years old, will be accepted for each eight-week period. The first full eight-week program will begin Monday, January 11.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Gerard Greenan said the program team includes an education specialist who will help participants to keep up with their school work and stay connected to their school while they are taking part in the program. “This specialized support will make it easier for youth to participate and it will help them to be more prepared and motivated to return to school when they finish the program,” said Minister Greenan.

Youth participants are referred to the Strength Program by youth addiction counsellors across the province. They are assessed on an individual basis for appropriateness and readiness of extended treatment programming.

“The Strength Program and enhanced community-based prevention, education and early intervention programming will complement the services which are currently being offered across the province,” said Margaret Kennedy, manager of Community Mental Health and Addictions, Department of Health. “By having Strength Program staff collaborate with community-based youth and family counsellors, prevention and early intervention specialists, youth workers, schools, community organizations, and other interest groups, we will continue to build our supports to youth and their families who are dealing with substance abuse and addiction issues.”

The Strength Program is part of the PEI Youth Substance Use and Addiction Strategy which was introduced by the provincial government in 2007. The strategy includes five key areas: prevention, education, early intervention, counselling and aftercare.


New Youth Substance Abuse and Addiction Day Treatment Program and Prevention, Education and Early Intervention activities

What types of services does the new Strength (day treatment) Program offer?

• The Strength Program offers the following services:

- individual counseling

- family and parental support

- an education curriculum

- gambling addiction support

- recreational activities

- group treatment

- life skills development

- an individualized case process tailored to specific client needs.

• The program will also provide support to those youth who are experiencing social and mental health challenges in relation to substance use and addiction issues.

How can youth participate in the program?

Addiction Services follows best practice by assessing youth and matching needs to the most appropriate level of service or intervention.

• Youth will be individually assessed by youth addiction counselors at addiction service sites across the province prior to consideration of day treatment program participation or other supports.

• Youth addiction counselors assess youth on appropriateness and readiness for extended treatment programming and involve other health care providers when necessary.

• Counseling sessions happen in home communities prior to program entry.

How do referrals to the program take place?

• Referrals to the Strength Program are through community-based youth addiction counselors in Alberton, O’Leary, Summerside, Mount Herbert (Charlottetown area), Montague and Souris.

• Youth counselors carry out assessments with youth participants and their families on appropriateness and readiness for extended treatment programming. Community-based assessment, counseling and other necessary supports will be in place prior to consideration of program entry.

How many youth can participate in the Strength Program at one time?

• The program will accept a maximum of ten youth for each eight-week program.

What is the minimum number of youth each program will accept?

• Each program intake will accept a minimum of four youth for each program intake.

• In the unlikely event there are no participants for a program, the program staff will alter the program schedule to ensure there is adequate participation prior to program commencement and focus on other activities such as program review and improvement, staff training or preparatory work with potential youth and family participants.

What is the average age of youth participants in the Strength Program?

• The average age of youth participants is 13 to 18 years with some older and younger youth being accepted as well, based on assessment.

What topics will be discussed with participants in the program?

• Topics discussed in the Strength Program will include the following:

- relapse prevention

- self-esteem

- family dynamics

- healthy relationships

- managing cravings

- effective communication

- making healthy choices

- goal setting

- developing trust in others and yourself

- coping with anger, depression and other emotions.

Will youth be able to continue to work on their school curriculum while in the Strength Program?

• Yes. Youth attending the Strength Program will work with program staff and the Education system to develop individualized curriculum plans.

• Those who are not currently connected to the education system will be assisted by the Strength Program Education Specialist to explore educational opportunities such as G.E.D.s and school re-entry preparation as appropriate.

Can family and significant others get involved in the program?

• Yes. The Strength Program recognizes the importance of involving family and significant others in the treatment process.

• Family involvement is encouraged whenever possible.

• Youth participants will help determine significant people within their lives who are supportive.

• Family support services will be offered to all participants of the Strength Program. For example, an eight-week Families of Youth Program will run consecutively with the Strength Program on Wednesday evenings. Families will also have the opportunity to show their support by attending family day activities.

How does the supervised housing component of the program work?

Transportation and housing needs will be considered and arranged based on individual needs as identified by community-based youth addiction counselors through the assessment process.

• Supervised housing in Cornwall is available for a maximum of five youth at a time participating in the Strength Program.

• Participating youth will be supervised in the home five days a week, Sunday to Friday morning while the program is in progress.

What staff members have been hired to work within the program?

• The Strength Program team consists of a program lead, an administrative support person, a mental health therapist, a youth counselor, an academic youth worker/education specialist, two youth workers, and a youth and family counselor.

• The Department of Health is hiring youth workers to cover the five days per week supervised housing component of the program.

How long is the Strength Program?

• Each Strength Program runs for eight weeks, Monday to Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m with some evening programming for participating youth and families.

Are there breaks between each program?

Yes. There are two-week pauses between each program so that staff can prepare for the next program intake, carry out program review, work with schools to prepare curriculum plans and orientate families and youth to the program.

How much will it cost to operate the Strength Program and community-based prevention, education and early intervention efforts?

• The anticipated annual cost to operate the Strength Program and supervised housing in Cornwall is approximately $950,000.

• With continued strategy development and prevention, education and early intervention work factored in, the overall provincial budget estimate for first year operations is approximately $1.2 million.

Will aftercare opportunities be available to youth participants upon their completion of the program?

• Yes. Follow up and aftercare opportunities will occur in the client’s home community and will be arranged through local community youth counselors.

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

• The Department of Health has hired a full-time prevention, education and early intervention coordinator to work with communities across the Island to develop collaborative action plans that support parents and youth affected by substance use and addiction challenges.

• A youth substance use and addiction public awareness campaign was developed by the Department of Health this year. The campaign includes messages through newspaper, radio, television, posters, brochures and internet, and the campaign will continue to be developed and implemented over the coming year.

• The Department of Health continues to work with the Department of Education to enhance school-based prevention, education and early intervention activities.

• The Department continues to develop online information and interactive web-based resources for youth and parents.

• The Department of Health acquired federal funding to hire two additional youth addiction counselors and an early intervention specialist to provide support in communities during afternoons, evenings and weekends. These positions have been filled and are in addition to existing youth and family counseling at addiction service sites across the province as well as youth detox at the Provincial Addiction Treatment Facility in Mount Herbert.

Media Contact: Colin MacDonald
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