Government responds to Kelowna woman’s concerns about B.C. legislation

“There is no help in B.C. unless your child wants it and the situation with drugs is dire.”

Parents looking for changes to B.C. legislation that would allow them to have some say in their children’s drug treatment could eventually get what they want, says a representative of Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“Government is committed to providing the most appropriate services for people suffering from addictions in British Columbia, and we welcome any ideas on how we may be able to improve these,” reads a comment from the ministry.

“It is important to note that three ministers – Health, Education, and Children and Family Development – have Child and Youth Mental Health accountabilities in their mandate letters, requiring that recommendations for improvements be brought to Cabinet. Considerations around secure care would be part of that work.”

The ministry was responding to a story in the Capital News last week about a local woman who was at her wit’s end, trying to access help for her drug-addicted teen — help that the teen didn’t want to have.

She explained that she was going to leave B.C., where she couldn’t access the health records of her son, or enrol him in treatment without his consent, so she could access health care in Alberta.

“I have been through every resource available. But this may be the only thing I can do…People here don’t know,” she said, adding that she communicates with a network of moms who are in different stages of the same problem.

“Unless you have a troubled youth and are looking for resources you are living in a bubble. There is no help in B.C. unless your child wants it and the situation with drugs is dire.”

Alberta has legislation called the The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act (PChAD)  and it took effect in Alberta on July 1, 2006, and is aimed at helping children under 18 years of age whose use of alcohol or drugs is likely to cause significant psychological or physical harm to themselves or physical harm to others.

The PChAD program allows legal guardians to ask the court for a protection order.

This order will mean a child can be taken to a protective safe house for up to 10 days, even if he/she does not want to go.

This 10 day period will provide the child with a structured and protective setting in which to begin detoxification, while providing parents an opportunity to get involved in the process.

The time spent in the protective safe house also allows counsellors a chance to assess a child’s substance use and offer treatment recommendations to follow once they have been discharged from the program.

Although the ministry representative said there may eventually be changes, they also pointed out that  pushing a patient into detox  isn’t considered the best course of action.

” It is widely agreed that voluntary services – such as detox, residential treatment, and outpatient addictions and/or mental health counselling – are the most effective means of addressing addiction issues, which are often concurrent with mental health problems,” they said.