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Newly named Day One Society turns 50, knows addiction battle tougher than ever

New era at Day One Society


Sian Lewis is hoping a new moniker will resonate with those who need it most.

Day One Society is the new name of the former Kamloops Society for Alcohol and Drug Services, a non-profit organization that provides substance use services and advocacy for individuals, families and communities. The organization is marking its 50th anniversary in 2023, and never have the services and programs been needed more in the community.

“Well over two thousand people (in B.C.) died of an overdose last year,” Lewis says. “I’m hoping that with commemorating our 50th anniversary and changing our name to Day One Society to better reflect the journey from addiction to wellness, that these act as yet another catalyst to draw people’s attention to this issue and the need for these types of services.”

Detoxification at the Phoenix Centre facility is one of the services Day One Society offers, with the others being youth counselling and family support, a treatment program for young women, and supportive transitional living in recovery. The terrifying part for Lewis, however, is some drug users are dying before even getting to Day One Society.

“Tragically, one of the more recent overdoses we had in Kamloops was a 14-year-old child,” Lewis says. “And I say child because that’s what that person is. It’s a 14-year-old who experimented with a substance like so many human beings do at a certain stage in their life, and yet because we have a toxic drug supply, this young person was not protected.

“I think back to my time when I was that age and experimenting, and there wasn’t this kind of issue going on. And now we’re seeing very young people trying a substance for the first time, and it is like a game of Russian roulette.”

Day One Society is in the “middle of the continuum” when it comes to treating addiction, Lewis says. The first—and most crucial—part of the process of educating young people about the dangers of drug use in an attempt to get them to not do it at all. She knows that will never be the case, however, which is why she wants to see all levels of government give more support towards the cause. Cardiac patients, for example, get a detailed and clear path back to health, so why don’t addiction sufferers get the same treatment?

“What I do know is there’s a commitment for more beds and more funding still to come,” she says. “And I look forward to that, because it’s the only way that we’re going to improve health care specific to this issue.”

Day One Society operates 20 beds at its facility, and its doors never close. The program provides medically monitored withdrawal services, assessment, individual support, psycho-educational groups, yoga and medical management for clients on supervised prescription withdrawal protocols.

“The possibility is always there to change one’s life. It’s always there. And it just takes that one day,” Lewis says. “We don’t have to think about a week, a month, a year from now; we just have to think about today.”

Day One Society premiered a moving film aimed at reducing stigma around addiction. The film features clients who have accessed services offered by Day One Society as well as health-care workers and counsellors who work with these remarkable people who seek help.

“That’s what our vision is: Help. Hope. Heal. We are here for people who want to turn the thinking of one day I’ll get treatment or help into day one of their wellness journey.”

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Day One Society. More information about Day One Society can be found here.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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