[FONT=Arial,Helvetica][/FONT]DRUG PROJECT CUTS ER VISITS
Drug Use Is the Least of Their Problems.
For the youth who find their way through the doors of Maple Ridge's Matrix Project, drug use is often more of a symptom, a way of coping with one crisis after another said project co-ordinator Corrine Arthur.
Since the one-year pilot project began in June, more than 90 youth have received some form of service, of which 51 youths between the ages of 16 and 24 have been served through wrap-around intervention, which included a combination of detox, post acute withdrawal, practical support and after care services.
To add to that, 46 family members and significant others have benefited from the program, be it through family support, reunification or mediation services.
It's been a steep learning curve, said Arthur, who said that none of the youths who come to her fit with any prescribed program. Everything is tailored to suit their needs, she said, and none of it would be possible without a host of other area social programs.
While the project began with the aim of combating drug addiction, it's become much more, she said, detailing one specific client and her struggles to fit back into the "square" world.
The teen was referred to the Matrix via the ONYX program for sexually exploited youths, and has been working with Arthur since the time Matrix began.
The young woman from Surrey found herself in Maple Ridge, addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol and living with her pimp.
Her biggest problem, said Arthur, had little to do with drugs.
"So little time needed to be focused on the drugs and alcohol. It was such a minor part of the issue. It's just one of the ways of coping with her issues."
Topping the list of concerns was the girl's relationship with her family, and Arthur said she'd spend most of her time doing mediation work. The teen's life, said Arthur, consisted of "crisis upon crisis," and healing had to occur before the drugs even entered the picture.
Now, since working with the Matrix, the teen is back at school and has been clean since July.
And should the girl have a relapse, Arthur said, it's not a relapse back into drugs so much as a "relapse back into crisis.
"We're teaching them a lot of crisis management," she said, adding that in the beginning, "the kids will call you every day in crisis," but by the end, they're able to cope more independently.
One of the other benefits the program is reaping is felt in the Ridge Meadows Emergency Room. Often, the clients of Matrix spend time there, Arthur said, detailing how one young man had become a regular at the hospital, as it was the only place he felt safe.
"He would get himself so worked up, and then he'd call home and that would be disastrous, and the one place that he felt like he got care was in the ER."
By coming on board and offering the care that no one else would give him, his trips to the ER dwindled.
[FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Source: Maple Ridge Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc[/FONT]