TURNING THINGS AROUND
In late April 2011, a 29 year old male was arrested on a ‘Theft Under’ charge and placed in custody at Downtown Community Court (DCC). Information collected from the police report and his lawyer identified this client as a suitable referral to Watari’s Vancouver Intensive Supervision Unit (VISU) as part of his Bail release. Further interview and collaterals revealed the subject to suffer from schizophrenia, active drug use, and the stress of potential homelessness.
Fortunately, this particular client was engaging and amiable from the start which also helped us to understand his vulnerability. This small statured, soft spoken, young man who seemed eager to please and agree with others was also prone to being victimized by other drug using peers. His history has many sad components including being sponsored by his father from the Ukraine and then within months, abandoned to start on his own as a teenager. When you couple the hardships with the mental illness and addiction, the circumstances seem overwhelming for the client.
Prior to his involvement with VISU, the client identified a valuable relationship with his community mental health worker and together with her, VISU worked to address the ongoing drug use and compliance with treatment. This consisted of regular contact with the mental health team, frequent attendance at DCC for social engagement, and transporting/meeting the subject in the community. The client also complimented his 1:1 with attendance at DCC programs such as SMART and others. On the two occasions the subject entered detox, VISU members visited him regularly and tried to assist in his comfort through the ability to offer cigarettes, phone cards, and coffee outings. Following his last visit to detox, members of VISU facilitated the plan to admit him to Maple Ridge Treatment Centre by driving him out there and accompanying him in the orientation with staff.
As occurs with many, this client relapsed after Maple Ridge Treatment Centre, but we like to think the strength of his relationship with VISU helped him to reconnect when he needed assistance or a new plan. Recently, the outstanding referral to Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addictions as requested by VISU was fulfilled with the client entering BCMHA a few weeks ago. This long term treatment plan also contributed towards the completion of his court matter last week, resulting in a Probation Order (Conditional Discharge – no criminal record) with simple conditions.
Although the disposition brings his file to a close with our team, we continue to assist him adjust to BCMHA and have his needs met in the community. Just today, we drove him to his bank, a pawn shop and for a haircut. As always, he indicated his gratefulness and reinforced his plan to continue treatment and a life which is guided by responsible management of his mental health and the absence of drugs.