Nov. 7, 2014
Behind the Addiction
looks to educate responders through film
Released by Fraser Health Authority/Film screenshot
A DTES sequence from Fraser Health's
Moments to Milestones film.
Health, in partnership with Sources Community Resource Centres, and
through a financial contribution from Health Canada’s Drug Treatment
Funding Program, is proud to launch Moments to Milestones:
Engaging with People who use Substances.
This 30-minute video,
intended as an education resource for first responders, illustrates
the remarkable, positive difference that can be made when substance
users are approached by police, paramedics and emergency room staff
in a caring, respectful and non-judgmental manner.
Through compelling stories
and insights from people who use substances, first responders and
clinicians, Moments to Milestones highlights the need for first
responders to attune to their own values and beliefs in order to
suspend judgments that enforce negative stereotypes when approaching
substance users, and to instead connect with these individuals with
compassion, respect and a sincere desire to help.
"People who are vulnerable and marginalized can often feel judged,
fearful and helpless when interacting with first responders. Their
first impressions often dictate whether or not they will choose to
accept help or look for support services," said Sherry Mumford,
clinical director, Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Fraser
Health. "If a person has multiple positive interactions with first
responders, they can begin to believe that their life has value;
that there is hope; that someone cares. It can have a profound
impact on their life."
Moments to Milestones highlights specific behaviours and actions
that while seemingly simple, can have a deep and long-lasting effect
on people who use substances and people in crisis: a caring tone of
voice, kind gestures, eye contact, thoughtfulness and respect. Many
of the people who first responders are dealing with have never
experienced this type of treatment. Their lives have been marked by
judgment, hostility and blame. The stories shared throughout the
video serve as poignant reminders that these people feel discarded
and abandoned, ashamed and remorseful; and that any person or
situation that implies more rejection or alienation only serves to
further embed those feelings and push people back to substance use
"First responders need to remember that the individuals they're
dealing with are people too, and they have feelings and emotions;
even though there are times when they don't seem to," said Tanja,
whose story of recovery is profiled in the video. "Substance users
try to hide their feelings to the best of their ability. But believe
me, everything you say and do to them has an impact."
"When you're dealing with addictions you need to be very patient and
have a good listening ear. You always have to keep in mind that
these people need help, and how we approach that is very important,"
said Don Langille, registered practical nurse, Emergency Psychiatric
Services, Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Watch the trailer
or full-length film Moments to Milestones: Engaging with People who
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