When someone is diagnosed with stage one cancer, we don’t wait until they reach stage four before we start treatment.
But when it comes to drug and alcohol use, that is usually the approach taken – intervention doesn’t take place until it’s often too late.
“You come and see us when you lose your job and your wife kicks you out,” said Darrin Taylor, with Axis Intervention Services.
But that’s exactly the process Taylor would like to see changed – where intervention starts at an early stage, when it is easier to address and overcome.
Taylor, along with Chris Bader from Axis, will be making their case for a more pro-active approach during a presentation at W.L. Seaton Secondary on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.
The free presentation, Myths and Misconceptions: Bold New Ways for Families to Look at Drugs and Alcohol is put on by the Vernon School District, is open to parents, grandparents and students of all ages.
“What we wanted to try and do is really explore some commonly held myths around substance use using current data and statistics,” said Taylor, who has his own history of alcohol problems.
Those statistics include the fact that 10 per cent of the population consumes more alcohol than the rest of the population combined.
“There’s a belief that everyone does it or the use has been normalized,” said Taylor, of both drugs and alcohol.
“But drinking after work daily is not normal, in fact less than 20 per cent of the population does,” said Taylor, adding that some of this information is going to make people uncomfortable.
The same goes for use of marijuana.
“The high school kids that are coming to us say everyone does it, but there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t use it.”
What Bader and Taylor would like to see is more families and individuals empowered with the education that will allow them to revisit the way they look at substance use.
One such way for parents is developing a realistic strategy around zero tolerance, said Taylor, who helps families do just that at Axis.
“Don’t tell me that abstinence is unrealistic,” said Taylor, a parent himself of an eight- and 14-year-old, who both talk openly with their parents.
Axis works with the Vernon school district, which refers students who have been caught under the influence or with drugs or alcohol at school.
“People’s kids are going from experimenting to using on weekends to making a decision to use during the week and making a decision to use at school and that’s when we’re intervening.
“It’s almost like it’s too late.”
Having grown up in an environment where access to alcohol was free and easy, Taylor understands first-hand the difficulties of overcoming an addiction, particularly after it becomes a problem.
But he adds: “It’s a treatable condition, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”