Substance Abuse Strategy dilemma: how do you reach kids?

By David F. Rooney

The ink on Revelstoke’s draft Substance Abuse Strategy is barely dry and already its implementation may face a major hurdle: how do you reach older children and teens when the Interior Health Authority has killed its school-based prevention program?

Funding for the school-based program at the high school has been eliminated and Lori Borges, who has run it for several years, is moving to Vernon to be a substance-abuse counsellor there.

So who will deliver a substance abuse program at RSS next year?

That question formed part of the discussion at a sparsely attended community meeting about the strategy on the evening of June 15. Social Development Coordinator Jill Zacharias acknowledged that she hadn’t spoken with teachers about the problem but some people who attended the meeting nonetheless seemed to think teachers could and perhaps should pick up where Borges is leaving off.

Well, that’s a non-starter as far as the Revelstoke Teachers’ Association is concerned.

“That is a very specialized position that requires someone with specialized training,” RTA President Bill MacFarlane said earlier this week.

He said no one in the community should expect teachers to simply take on the task. They already have enough on their plates. Besides, Zacharias told City Council this week that she’ll be discussing the issue with IHA officials sometime in the near future.

The strategy itself says early identification of substance abuse, easier access to detoxification services, enhanced services for youth and better engagement between parents and youths are some of the keys to reducing what may be already-high levels of substance abuse in Revelstoke.

You can read the strategy here.