Teena Clipston is asking for support for her son as he struggles with his addiction. (Teena Clipston)

‘Where else do we go for help?’: Okanagan mom struggles to aid son fighting opioid addiction

Teena Clipston is learning that help can be hard to find

An Okanagan mother is doing her best to get help for her son as he struggles with opioid addiction, but she’s feeling lost.

Teena Clipston and her family are longtime Kelowna residents, but she moved to Nanaimo a few years ago. Her adult children stayed in the Okanagan.

Three weeks ago, Teena received a call from a social worker in Vernon, informing her that her son Andrew was in “bad shape.” He needed help in an immediate fashion.

“She was thinking that he really didn’t have that much time left; that’s how bad it was,” she said. “On top of that, Andrew also had an overdose, but I wasn’t made aware of that.”

Teena rushed to Kelowna to see her son and get him the help he needs.

Now, as her son focusses on recovering from his overdose and getting through his addiction, Teena is learning that is hard to find help.

Teena wanted to get Andrew on methadone to manage his withdrawal symptoms before they began to search for a rehab facility to check him into. But accessing opioid agonist therapy for Andrew proved difficult, given the over-saturated support system in Interior Health (IH). Teena said it took three days of calling and asking before Andrew was finally put on methadone.

“When we finally got there, they did the intake, but we were told to come back another day to get his prescription.

“It’s not Interior Health’s fault. They’re stretched thin too, but where else do we go for help?”

Teena’s plea for help to get her son into residential treatment comes as IH is working to take addiction and mental health services operating in-house.

Jana Abetkoff with IH’s clinical operations said the health authority is focusing on harm reduction, safe supply and ensuring services match a person’s individual needs.

“Literature shows that residential treatment is not effective,” she said. “Going to a treatment centre is intrusive and it plucks them away from their community, family and job. It puts them in a false environment where they learn new skills and then they are expected to transition back into their community. It’s effective for some but not the majority.”

IH’s approach now is prescribing methadone or starting other types of opioid therapies, but that isn’t what everyone wants either.

“I told the doctor when we got the prescription that I only wanted to use the methadone to help control his pain until we got him into rehab. She said, ‘He wouldn’t need rehab if he was on methadone for the rest of his life,’” Teena said.

“If we just give Andrew methadone for the rest of his life, then he isn’t truly free either. I don’t want that.”

Teena said it’s difficult for Andrew to see the end of the tunnel and more often than not, he feels hopeless. Given the long waitlists, expensive fees and the runaround the two have experienced trying to find help, Teena said she understands why he feels that way.

But she’s not done fighting for him, and she’s asking for the community’s support to keep going.

“I would definitely love some support from people. Advice on which numbers are good to call, getting some real assistance and knowing what to do.

“I just wish I had the answers.”

If you would like to help Teena and Andrew on their journey, visit their fundraiser to donate.

READ: Interior Health warns of fentanyl contaminated crack-cocaine in Penticton


@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

opioid crisis

Just Posted

Email letters to the editor to editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish online and in print.
LETTER: Port McNeill councillor responds to May 12 North Island Rising column

‘council raised residential taxes for no reason and I stand by that statement’

The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)
Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Program starting up next week

Teams have protocols in place to ensure COVID-19 safety

Shearwater is located in the Great Bear Rainforest on the West Coast of B.C. (Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association photo)
Heiltsuk Nation buys historic Shearwater Resort and Marina

Chief Marilyn Slett said Heiltsuk Nation has always valued its relationship with the company

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read