Changing Cultures of Substance Use . . . . .

In the last few days there has been much discussion about  substance use as people grapple with Cory Monteith’s fatal overdose of heroin and alcohol.  Cory played Finn Hudson, described by the press as “the football hunk with a heart of gold,” in the popular musical comedy series GLEE:

“Cory fought his demons and the demons won,” a friend says. “Cory wasn’t going out and doing these things to have fun. He couldn’t stop. He tried. He just couldn’t.”

 Cory Monteith and Lea Michelle at a Canucks game last winter

Industry Minister James Moore, who represents B.C. in cabinet, tweeted Tuesday he hoped the

“sad death” prompts “a discussion of the complex health issues of addiction and recovery.”

Rob Delaney from a Rolling Stone article has a similar message and wants people to know that Rehab and treatment programs CAN work!  He worries that Cory’s sad story might lead people to believe that treatment is always unsuccessful.    He uses his own life as an example of how there are many, many individuals who are eventually able to tame their addiction demons:

The Kootenays have also seen several substance-use related fatalities of young people over the last years.   When we hear these incredibly sad stories, it always creates questions about what might be helpful to people struggling with addictions and/or dangerous use  of  drugs and alcohol.  The pic below speaks to the human tendency to find ways to avoid or distract ourselves from the various stresses and pains of living: 


Alcohol and other mind changing substances have been part of the human experience  for thousands of year. They can often be fun and celebratory.   However, there  has also been an ongoing struggle for many people to find the sweet spot where substance use is pleasurable and life enhancing but doesn’t tip towards bringing negative social or health consequences.  A Nelson Life Coach, Pauline Daniels, speaks of the importance of recognizing the  “niggly feeling,” that often leads us to various addictive behaviors.   It is often so difficult for us to be comfortable with ourselves just the way we are and consequently we often latch onto things that temporarily take away the awkwardness, pain or uneasiness.

Sometimes it is worth taking a break from substances so you can examine their unique pattern in your life and  you can clearly see the needs, fears and longings that might be waiting for your attention when you stop trying to avoid your raw experience.   Hello Sunday Morning     is an Australian interactive web-site where people support each other in exploring their life goals and taking a break from patterns that might get in the way of fulfillment.

Prospective Selkirk student, Kyoko Comme,  wisely suggests that one way to stay healthy is to:

 “treat alcohol as a treat  –  NOT as a necessity.  If you NEED it to

feel good about yourself or to relax, maybe you should  

re-think your relationship with it.”

Here is a great quick screening tool for you to explore how your pattern of drinking fits with current guidelines on healthy alcohol consumption:

Shambhala Music Festival is coming up soon.  This local festival has an amazing harm reduction program and safety record, but  last year sadly experienced their first  overdose tragedy.  Here is one of their posters that addresses Ecstasy use, but the advice is relevant for all substances.  As they say:

We do not support the use of illicit substances, but we DO believe that everyone should be very well educated about drugs and their effects.

  Please please, stay away from these drugs!!

This frank video also offers ideas on how to stay safe:

The Calgary Sun,  trying to make sense of the Cory Monteith tragedy, stated:

Beneath that beaming smile and away from the glare of the spotlight, Monteith was just like many of us, wrestling with demons that had no respect for his fame and fortune.
While Cory Monteith paid the ultimate price for whatever pained him when he left the path of sobriety, that is the only time it’s too late to get the help you need.
It doesn’t matter if you are rich or famous or just you – 

if you need help,

                                               reach out.

When you turn the other way, even the brightest stars can fade to black.

So – the huge message in all of this is to reach out and talk to people about keeping yourself and people you care about healthy.  There are wonderful resource people in our community who would love to meet you and can help you figure out a wellness plans that fits for you and your situation:

Selkirk Counsellors:   250-352-6601  (Nelson)      250-365-1273   (Castlegar)
The following numbers will connect you with in-take and assessment if you would like help in figuring out your next steps in evaluating or shifting your relationship with substance use:
Nelson  250-354-7248    Castlegar  250-304-1846     Trail 250-364-6262
and   The Kootenays Crisis Line 


is available   24/7   to listen and  help you find the right services.  If you have one of those times where it is 3:00 a.m. and you need someone to talk to, please call this number and you will find compassionate, non-judgmental listeners.

In addition, we are lucky to have a local acupuncture clinic that offers reasonable treatments that are reputed to be very helpful in dealing with cravings and some of the physiological effects of substance use:

A Registered Acupuncturist, or a senior student will treat you from the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences (Nelson) under the supervision of an instructor from the academy who is a Registered acupuncturist (R. Ac) in the province of B.C. Your acupuncture treatments are offered to you free-of-charge.

You are welcome here and there are no special requirements to participate. This program offers acupuncture to assist your recovery process.

Tuesday 1:30,  Thursday 9:30. 333 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor, (250) 505 – 7248

Selkirk College has just become part of a provincial college initiative that is exploring “Changing Cultures of Substance Use.”  We will be engaging students and staff in dialogue about how to create a culture that supports  healthy relationships with substance use and would love your ideas and input!

Let’s start a conversation! Comment below if you have thoughts or suggestions around this topic, or if you would like to be involved in helping our new project explore these issues, please e-mail for more information.

What do you think it means to have a healthy relationship with substance use?

How do you know when you have had enough? 

What are the challenges in being a Buddy and staying with friends when they are intoxicated? 

What tips do you have to help students stay safe and healthy in party situations? 


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