Julia Wood, Substance Use Services Access Team member, with client Kaitlyn Busswood.
Submitted by Shannon Henderson, Senior Consultant, Communications and Public Affairs

Substance use service helps people connect with their inner strength on their journey to wellness.

In this photo: Julia Wood (left), Substance Use Services Access Team member, with client Kaitlyn Busswood. “The best part of my job is seeing people reconnect with themselves,” says Julia.

The Substance Use Services Access Team provides health care providers with seamless access to a team of substance use professionals to provide referrals, consultation and information about substance use services. Once referred, people meet with a clinician by phone or in person. One such individual is Kaitlyn Busswood, who is now in recovery and reconnecting with her aspirations and true self as a result of connecting with Julia Wood, Substance Use Services Access Team clinician.

“When asked what gets people interested in and sticking with treatment, Julia says “connections,” such as an ID card or a family doctor. “It’s less about treatment and more about learning what the person needs and wants to get back to who they are,” she says. “People will always be more welcoming of change if they have input into it, and the evidence around treatment engagement and outcomes proves that,” says Wood.

This is Kaitlyn’s story, as told to Shannon Henderson.

I was 18 when I started smoking and drinking, and was introduced to drugs by the time I turned 19. I had moved up to Kelowna from Aldergrove to go to UBC Okanagan. I was all alone in a new town and was thrilled when I met some girls at the mall I was working at, and they asked me if I wanted to go out clubbing one night. We met beforehand at one of the girls’ houses for what I thought would be a couple of drinks. It turned out to be a platter of cocaine, a pile of pills and two 26ers of vodka. “Visitors first!” the hostess cheered as she passed the platter around. I tried it and right away, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I feel like this all the time?” These girls wanted to hang out with me, I felt confident and pretty, and everything I had wanted university to be was finally happening. The partying never stopped.

After my first year at university, I moved home to Aldergrove for the summer and took a job as a server at a neighbourhood pub. All of the money I made I spent drinking and doing drugs. One night when I was high, I stole my sister’s car, crashed it and put my head through the front windshield, suffering a life-threatening head injury. I was mad at myself, injured inside and out. I had hit a low; I had lost the trust of my family.

After the summer, I got my parents to co-sign a loan so I could go to Kamloops to start fresh. I moved there with a friend and got a great job that paid well. Too well, perhaps; my drug intake got worse and I started bringing around lots of people to our place. After a while, my friend kicked me out.

I started living in a tent on the street, during which time, I was sexually abused. After that, I thought to myself, “enough is enough,” and I called my mom.
“Are you sitting down?” I asked her. I told her everything, and that I wanted to go home, so she drove to meet me in Kamloops the next morning. On the drive down, she told me she had booked a doctor’s appointment for me for later that day. My doctor referred me into the Community Residential Emergency Short-Stay Treatment in Abbotsford, but after two weeks in the voluntary program,
I convinced myself and my counsellors that I was fine, and left.

Peardonville House Treatment Centre client Kaitlyn Busswood

“Overcoming my drug addiction was the hardest break-up in my life. Working on my recovery has become my new relationship with myself,” says Kaitlyn.

But I was not fine. Several years later, in an oblivion of drug use, despair, and abusive and broken relationships, I felt so bad that I attempted to kill myself, but I survived. I called my family, who took me to the hospital. Eventually, I was admitted to the psychiatric unit. There I met Julia Wood, a substance use clinician with the Substance Use Services Access Team. She was like an angel – she saved my life. She took the time to get to know me and my mom and wanted to know how she could help me, what did I want. I even started laughing – for the first time in a long time -- during our conversation. I felt safe with her; that everything was going to be o.k. That night I had the best sleep ever.

Julia started working right away to find a suitable place for me, eventually referring me to Peardonville House Treatment Centre in Abbotsford. While I waited to get in, Julia followed me all the way along, calling me often and always returning my calls to find out how I was doing.

My graduation ceremony from Peardonville House Treatment Centre was September 25. After I get settled, I want to finish my degree and explore a business idea I have. These pursuits are important to me and I’m happy about my future, but I need to be careful not to let them take all my energy.
My recovery must always come first no matter what, because it’s a journey; not a destination.

For more information about the Substance Use Services Access Team, talk to your family doctor. Need to talk to someone now? Call the Fraser Health Crisis Line at
1-877-820-7444, available 24/7.

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