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

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Over 42,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine given to South Okanagan residents

That includes more than half of the residents in the Penticton local health area

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in Naramata

Expect big police presence in the area this week as the investigation continues

Keremeos RCMP reported May 12, 2021 that missing man Nathan Bell, 38, has been found safe. (Contributed)
Missing Keremeos man found safe

Nathan Bell, 38, was last seen April 29 before being located

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Most Read