“When I look back on our journey of the last few years, the thing that really strikes me is the support we got as a family from the DSYTC.”
Our eldest son, Joe, came home from school in spring of 2020 when COVID hit, and we were quite concerned because it became obvious to us that he was heavily dependent on nicotine and caffeine drinks. He was also drinking a lot (which may not be unusual for a young man) and using weed (which had just become legal).
Joe decided not to go back to university that fall because it was virtual learning. But one day, he had an episode of psychosis, which we later learned was cannabis-induced. This added a completely different layer onto his addictions. As a result of this first episode, Joe was hospitalized for 16 days. An episode of psychosis is like a concussion to the brain, and not surprisingly, we noticed a real change in our son. Joe was working part-time at a grocery store, but he kept using weed, insisting that he could manage it. Over the next year, things were very up and down, as Joe had multiple episodes of psychosis, each different in nature, but all linked to weed.
This situation was very stressful for us as parents and for Joe’s younger brother, who was struggling to finish high school, which was much different due to COVID lockdowns. But the shift to online learning allowed us to send his brother to stay with relatives in Toronto for a while, as the situation at home with Joe deteriorated.
After another severe episode of psychosis, Joe again ended up in hospital in at the end of 2021. This time we told him that when he was discharged from hospital, he couldn’t come home until we saw that he was serious about addressing his addictions. Joe wasn’t yet 21, and the hospital told him (and us) about the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. Joe agreed to this option.
However, there were no openings at the DSYTC at that point. It was mid-January. We knew there was a waiting list, and due to COVID restrictions, the Centre was operating at half-capacity, as clients could not share rooms. As he knew he could not come home, Joe stayed with a relative for six weeks until a spot at DSYTC came free. Finally, we got word that Joe could begin the program.
Joe was a reluctant participant at DSYTC, but we noticed immediately that he had structure in his life – good sleep, hygiene, food, physical activity. He was getting his medication. He was getting counseling. The son we knew before seemed to be returning. And for the first time, while Joe was in DSYTC and for three months afterwards, we, as parents, received support, education, and counselling, thanks to regular meetings with our Family Therapist, Shannon.
Joe only stayed at the DSYTC for a month, choosing to discharge himself early from the program. He moved into an apartment with a friend and went back to his job. But when I look back on our journey of the last few years, I can see that the support our family got from the DSYTC was a turning point for Joe — and for us.
Today, we are proud of how well Joe is doing in managing his mental health. He has a new job. He hopes to return to finish his university studies one day. Joe still struggles, as do we, with his cannabis use, but his situation is stable, and our relationship with him is much improved, as is his relationship with his brother.
I know my son and our family would be in a very different place today were it not for the help we received through the DSYTC. It`s why we have donated money to the project to build the new facility, and have written to political decision-makers urging ongoing support for the important work that DSYTC does for youth who are struggling with addictions. It`s also why I am grateful for this chance to share our family’s story as clients of the DSYTC.
Nancy is a parent of a former client and a DSYTC donor.
There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!
112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001