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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

a 75 percent subsidy is being offered for those facing financial barriers in accessing leisure service department opportunities. (District of Kitimat file photo)
Kitimat’s new leisure access program offers a 75 per cent subsidy for persons facing financial barriers

The subsidy will give people facing financial barriers a cheaper opportunity to the leisure programs

The District of Kitimat has announced to continue their free transit fares for all students in kindergarten to Grade 12. The pilot project will continue to run until August 2023, and will be reviewed in 2023 to see if it will be renewed. (Black Press photo)
Free student transit fare pilot project continues in Kitimat

The project was launched in September 2020 and allowed students to board buses for free

Kitimat Search and Rescue was tasked by RCMP on Friday, April 21 2021, requesting help in finding three lost hikers north of the Smith Street hiking trail. Hikers were found and brought back into town at 8 pm. (Kitimat Search and Rescue logo)
Kitimat SAR find three lost hikers

Kitimat SAR issued a warning to locals using the trails

Gates will open at 8:30 p.m. with the first film starting around 9:15 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (AFFNO file photo)
AFFNO hosts french film in the Kitimat-Stikine and Northcoast Region

AFFNO had to create different approaches this year to set up events

(Clare Rayment photo)
Column: Whether weather correlates to your mood

Nearly nine per cent of people fall into a ‘rain haters’ category

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Most Read