The following quotes about substance use come from some candid and insightful conversations with Selkirk Students while we ate good food.
As part of a provincial initiative we are exploring our values, experiences, insights and safety tips!
Thanks so much to the students who were willing to embark with us on this conversational journey!
What are some of things that have shaped your current relationship with substances?
“I realized I was drinking to hide or because I was sad.”
“A few months ago I decided to slow things down – I was drinking for the wrong reasons. I needed to reel things in a bit. When you are trying to do well as a student, frequent hangovers aren’t an option!”
“I use it in a casual setting, but limit myself to the amount I can tolerate.”
“I was 18 and hadn’t a lot experience . . . . the raging tree planting debauchery took a while to figure out and sometimes I was just trying things to fit in.”
“I get laughed at for declining alcohol.”
“I heard a friend was high on something and had a heart attack – that scared me and made me think about things.”
“My parents’ weren’t strict so it wasn’t this huge curiosity to try things. My friend’s parents were really tight and he was really sheltered and now he’s out of control with drugs.”
“My Dad gave me life lessons about self-respect and pacing myself that stick with me.”
“It helps if friends tell you what kind of drugs they’re planning to do. I had a friend have an overdose seizure and I called 911 and stayed with her ‘til the ambulance came. It changed my life.”
What has helped you have a healthy relationship with substances?
“I have got help from counsellors – it’s empowering to talk to people and find ways to be true to yourself.”
“All my friends are starting to pick healthier activities. We’re also talking to each other more about stuff.”
“My kids – I really want them to grow up in a healthy environment.”
“I ask myself, do I NEED this or am I choosing it?”
“I signed myself up for Freedom Quest.”
“I didn’t want to be like my Mom.”
“I changed my friends.”
“I posted to Facebook that I needed help and people supported me.”
“I have realized I can’t tolerate too much. Partying’s pretty intense in Res and it can get nearly competitive . . . . .”
What advice would you give to other students about substance use?
“Don’t let unhealthy substance use become a total habit – what you do every weekend.”
“Limit how often you go out – – do other things as well.”
Know your Body and what you can handle.”
“The people around you have such an influence – choosing friends is really important.”
How do you know when to stop? What is enough for you?
“I stop as soon as I get hints from my friends that I’m being weird . . . . . I don’t want to be ridiculous and embarrass myself.”
“When you realize you are disgusting . . . . . .”
“When it gets to the point it affects everything you do, you need to stop.”
“After four shots it’s a really slippery slope and bad things can happen.”
“I only buy the amount I want to have . . .. . . . I really try to just keep to what I have bought ahead of time.”
“If I have a hangover I have to take the whole next day off – it really messes with my well-being, so I’m trying not to get to that point very often.”
“I buy a six-pack and don’t go past that.”
What do you do to stay safe or keep friends safe?
“I take a back pack to raves with water, Vitamin C, gum and bread – I always look after people.”
“People need to know that they can talk to you without you judging them.”
“Sometimes it helps to tell someone sincerely that you are worried about them.”
“Don’t do too much coddling – let people know that they are in charge of their own lives.”
“You can’t talk to someone until they are ready to say something.”
“Make a plan ahead of time.”
“Make a bottom line – – – think it out before you go out.”
“People make their own safety-net for themselves.”
“I only let myself spend a certain amount of money for the month . . . . . .”
“We keep track of everybody in our group – watching out for others helps you keep track of yourself too.”
“Sometimes I act like a spotter or sherpa for friends. I’ll be the safe one while you are on your journey. I can keep you in the zone and keep you from doing anything awful.”
“It’s good to know ahead of time what your friends are taking.”
“If you are worried about people talk to them. They don’t always want to hear what you say and can be defensive but you are showing you care.”
“Be educated about whatever you are planning to take – http://www.erowid.org/ has stories – the good and the bad, and tons of information.”
http://www.dancesafe.org/ is a place with lots of info and you can order drug testing kits from there.”
“We’re just friends, watching out for each other.”
“It seems that me keeping it safe can have an influence on other people.”
What can we do at Selkirk to help students have a healthier relationship with substances?
“More things to do”
“I’d like to know more about options for activities.”
“Maybe there could be something on the Selkirk web-page that shows things people can do and where they can get discounts.”
“Things like this where people can talk and not feel judged.”
“It seems awkward to have discussions because some of these things are illegal. We need to have places where we can be more comfortable talking about this kind of stuff.”
What has this meal conversation been like for you?
“After about 15- 20 minutes, everyone started to open up and it was really enjoyable. When people make themselves vulnerable, conversation opens up to a way deeper level. Once everyone got comfortable, the discussion really began to pick up.”
“I thought it was refreshing to see people getting together and talking about this very important issue. I hope these discussions continue to happen.”
“It was a good time for me to reflect on my history with substance use/abuse. I’ve had ups and downs and am thankful that I had the wherewithal to realize that while drugs and alcohol offered a short term solution to my difficulties, they often made my problems worse in the long term.”
“Comfort is the most important factors in these discussions, so anything that would induce comfort is perfect – – maybe couches, soft music, dim lighting, dessert, less formalities . . . . .. .”
Alyson Brouwer and Jessie Keczan are in Third Year Nursing and are helping facilitate discussions and explore some of the things that help students explore healthy relationships with substances.
Here are Alyson’s reflections written after her first Dinner Basket Conversation Event:
I feel as if the first lunch experience was great and has made me excited for the future lunch and dinner basket conversations I will be involved in this semester. There were a few things that struck me and made me reflect on the lunch that I was involved in. After doing some literature review regarding history of community, food as a social aid, substance use in the young adult population, and resiliency and coping mechanisms the lunch conversation brought all those concepts into action and has allowed me to have a broader perspective of how sharing of experiences of substance use, creating positive social groups, and sharing food together can allow individuals a sense of belonging and promote community health.
Over the past three years of my nursing education, I have had the opportunity to care for and support adults experiencing mental health challenges or substance use issues. I have never had the opportunity to care for young adults. As I near the end of my nursing education, I am trying to provide myself with more opportunity to work with the young adult population. I was very pleased to see that two young adults attended the lunch and were very willing to share their experiences with substances openly and honestly. It is becoming more evident to me as I progress through my nursing education that in order to promote health you must find what is meaningful and valued by the individuals you are caring for. It was very inspiring to see that these young adults were empowered to change their behavior and health practices regarding substance use, but struggle to find the support and resources they need in order to make the change. Therefore, the dinner conversations are a step in the right direction.
The dinner conversations are a positive way to share personal experiences or thoughts about substance use and allow all individuals an opportunity to discuss a taboo topic in a non-judgmental environment. I feel it is our responsibility as members of the community to promote health and well-being by ensuring all members feel supported and experience a sense of belonging within the communities they live in. As a Selkirk student and a future health care professional, I am excited too see the changes that result from these dinner conversations and look forward to being involved in promoting healthy campuses and communities.
Alyson Brouwer, Third Year Nursing Student
In the Kootenays:
- Talk to a Selkirk College Counsellor 250-365-1273 (Castlegar) 250-352-6601 (Nelson) Students from all 8 Selkirk Campuses are welcome to call either of these numbers to set up a phone or in-person appointment.
- Mental Health and Addictions services will help you set up an in-take appointment. Services is totally confidential and these agencies have provided great support for Selkirk students and staff needing assessment and service:
Grand Forks: 250-442-0330
This Aussie web-site is a great resource for people wanting support in making healthy changes:
and the local crisis line is always available 24/7 with non-judgmental listening and referral:
What are your thoughts on substance use? What tips do you have to share?
Add any comments or insights below and let us know if you want to host a Dinner Basket Conversation. You will get a basket, food, recipes and a conversation guide. We’d love to help you set up your own Dinner Party to continue this rich dialogue!