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Indian Self Help Key to Treatment

New Dawn Valley Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre in Echo Lake, Fort Qu' Appelle

Wayne Boen is the Assistant Program Co-ordinator at the New Dawn Valley Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre, a Native treatment centre located on Echo Lake near Fort Qu'Appelle. The New Dawn Centre is funded by Health and Welfare Canada, and houses up to thirty clients for its 28 day, live-in-program.

Before he went to the New Dawn Centre 11 years ago, Wayne had his own problems with alcohol. After his recovery he started helping out in the Detox Centre in Regina and took additional training in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

According to Wayne, they have clients who use marijuana; cocaine and prescription drugs, but alcohol is still the "drug of choice."

"Clients are referred from many different sources - through the National Native Drug and Alcohol Program (NADAP), drop-in centres and some come from corrections. We have self-referrals people who have heard about the centre from other clients and want to try the same thing. They just make a call and we help them make arrangements to come over. We have a waiting list so if somebody calls up it depends on the waiting list how long it will take for them to get in. Sometimes it's two weeks and sometimes it takes two months. The majority are younger, from eighteen to twenty-five. The age limit is seventeen. We like to make sure that they're all clear of their court cases so there's going to be nothing to interfere with their treatment.

And we try to restrict the number from the courts and legal system at any one time. If we get too many from the courts it becomes a specialized program, dealing with corrections and we have a harder time. Lots of times they're not here because they want to be here. They're here because somebody else has told them to be here.

When we bring new clients into the program we do orientations, evaluations and assessments in the first week. They are introduced to the Centre and to the rules and responsibilities of the Centre. The basic rules are: no alcohol or drugs during treatment, and they have to participate in the program. We also stress the need for confidentiality when they're in the program. Also in that first week we try to get a strong commitment from them that they're here for the right reasons. Everybody who comes in gets a physical by the doctor so we can find out if they need medical attention. Sometimes after they sober up there are medical complications so we make sure they are healthy. Then we do an assessment to see if they're in the right place. Sometimes we refer someone to a different type of treatment centre that is more suitable for them ... so we can be a referral agency at the same time.

The ones that fit into our program start in the second week in the regular programs. It's a combination of lectures, talks, and films. We put in a few life skills exercises to get people to become more aware of particular behaviours. And we have one-to-one talking and group therapy. The days are fairly full. They start out in the morning with a spirituality session. Spirituality is one of the main focuses. We use both Native and non-denominational spirituality about 50-50. We don't have any on staff, but we do bring Elders in to talk to the clients.

Personally I think it's the group therapy that makes it work being able to talk about the real issues in a group.

Self-esteem is a big thing. People are often very low on self-esteem. Some of them have a hard time even speaking out in front of a group. But there's lots of reinforcement once the group gets working.

Some of the problems they deal with are the problems they had as youngsters and when they were growing up. It could be abuse and there's a lot of co-dependence. Co-dependence is an addiction to another person or persons and their problems, or a relationship and its problems. We do work with all types of relationships.

We're just in the process of doing some research to find out what our success rate is. Its probably about 40 percent; but we have a hard time defining success.

Basically we do utilize philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and we utilize the 12 Step of the A.A. program.

We break our program into four weeks. We have one week in which we deal with alcoholism drug addiction information. We to get out as much information we can about how alcohol affects you physically. Then we have self-awareness week when we to get people more aware of themselves. Then we have a family week where we show how drugs and alcohol affect children or people were affected when they were children. The fourth week is preparation to leave the program. In that final week we try to get them a temporary sponsor who will help them through the tough times.

The sponsors come from the A.A. and N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) programs and the NADAP program.

We also try to get them to take a look at some alternatives to drinking and drug taking ~ how to enjoy their sobriety. There are sports and we try to get them into things they were into when they were younger ~ hobbies and crafts, volunteering and taking an active part in their community, and possibly continuing on in school.

We take people from all over Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, the North West Territories and United States. There are times when we have too many coming in from one area and people have a hard time opening up due to fears about confidentiality. If that happen refer some of them on to other treatment centres.

There are quite a few different centres. The White Spruce Centre in Yorkton is for the young people and there is a long term program at a farm called Recovery Acres just out of Lumsden.

We have had a lot of luck with the 22 to 28 age range but wouldn't want to say that's the only people we should deal with. We have a lot of luck with some of older people as well. Sometimes its really good to get a mixture of people. The older people can get a little of self-worth by sharing some of the customs and culture of the Indian people. The younger people look up to the older ones. It's a good combination.

We have had some people that have repeated the program four or five times and then gone on to accept recovery. There was a case I heard of about a fellow that went fifteen times and the fifteenth was the time he was successful. We never give up.

The Twelve Steps to Recovery


Box 279, Red Pheasant Reserve, Cando, Sask.
Phone: (306) 937-2037

Box 340, Canwood, Sask.
Phone: (306) 468-2072

Onion Lake, Sask.
Phone: (306) 344-2094

Box 429, c/o Drug & Alcohol Program, Kamsack, Sask.
Phone: (306) 542-2635

Box 1360, c/o Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Meadow Lake, SK.
Phone: (306) 236-4437

Box 188, Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask.
Phone: (306) 332-5637

Box 3917, Melfort, Sask.
Phone: (306) 864-3631