From the outside of 200 Queen avenue, it’s difficult to fathom the work that Addiction Services of Thames Valley (ADSTV) does. However, inside its nondescript exterior, ADSTV’s dedicated staff work towards changing and saving lives every day, while ensuring no one is turned away.
Executive Director Linda Sibley and Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator Olivia Griggs took a moment to sit down with Fuse to discuss the work they are doing, their new community partners and what they hope to do in the future.
ADSTV uses a community-centred approach to providing support for individuals with alcohol, drug, gambling and digital dependency addictions. The staff is welcoming and eager to help anyone that walks through the door.
Currently ADSTV has 16 programs that deal with various aspects of addiction. Their mission is one of harm reduction, and Sibley emphasizes that there are many different avenues to healing.
One example that has been grabbing local headlines is trying to ensure safe use of drugs.
ADSTV has supported the opening of the first Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS) in Ontario at 186 King street, which shares the space with HIV/AIDS connection and the Counterpoint Needle and Syringe Program.
Within three weeks of TOPS being open, there were two reported instances where overdose was prevented, showing the need for and the effectiveness of such a service.
Sibley explained this echoes her belief that no one deserves to die just because they have an addiction.
The Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Centre at 648 Huron street is a walk-in service that is the brainchild of CMHA and ADSTV. It is staffed 24 hours a day, providing stabilization spaces and professionals who are trained in crisis intervention. This goes hand in hand with the crisis line reach out.
Their anti stigma campaign, POSSIBLE promotes awareness and encourages conversation about addiction and the stigma that surrounds it.
The POSSIBLE campaign looks to create a safe space to discuss and reduce stigma by correcting misconceptions around drug use.
ADSTV has partnered with musical allies, some with their own stories, to push the conversation forward through music and beautiful videos.
The campaign released their latest video in early February, featuring local musicians Aaron Allen and Carly Thomas. The video highlights the supports and acceptance available to individuals.
The campaign has also shone a spotlight on stories of addiction recovery – a rare opportunity for those on the outside to understand the people behind the addictions.
ADSTV employs a philosophy called the Stages of Change. It is a model that is used worldwide. Stages of Change begins with pre-contemplation – a stage of denial – and goes all the way through to maintenance, where individuals have stopped being dependent on a substance or behavior.
At each stage, relapse is possible, and an aim of this model is to normalize this. No journey to recovery from addiction is the same. Knowing that failing is a part of the process is extremely important for clients.
ADSTV is working towards a community where stigma does not play a role in the road to recovery. Griggs points out that this could be as small as having an open conversation or changing the words we use around addiction. It is important that the community is educated about addiction so that they can accept and support individuals that have started their journey to recovery.
The goal is to stop alienating people who struggle with addiction, especially those who are reaching out for help.
For more information on the resources check out:
Service of Thames Valley
It’s POSSIBLE campaign
Free naloxone kits (opioid overdose)
RAM clinics with rapid access to suboxone