More Great Insights into Substance Use from students at Silver King and Castlegar


Aly Brouwer, third year nursing student, brought great sandwich fixings and facilitated a discussion on substance use with the Carpentry Foundation students at Silver King campus.

Thanks Craig McCallum for letting us crash your class and thanks to the students for your great comments, insights and suggestions on how to encourage healthy relationships with substances.

Carpentry Foundation Lunch Conversation: 

What’s substance use like in your community?

“There is the perception that college is the time to binge drink. It is a time in your life where you don’t have so many responsibilities and probably the only time in your life when your body can take that much abuse!”

“Having the ski hill nearby helps make a different kind of party culture – there aren’t as many stories here about passing out or drinking and driving.”

“How you feel the next day has a lot to do with tolerance you build up – I can’t function the next day anymore if I party hard.”

“Sometimes substances just take the edge off – they can provide enjoyment, escapism and a way of dealing with stressors.”

“It seems the Kootenays is filled with mental illness and substance use – some people call it a ‘free-range insane asylum.’ Maybe people who are shunned in other places can find a place here.”

“Sometimes people in the Kootenays go too far in seeing substances as part of their spirituality or a way to find themselves. People can get stuck in those views.”

“Sometimes substances are really helpful for people to understand themselves and they can be part of their spiritual path if they’re used right.”

“Partying in college isn’t as intense as in highschool – people don’t brag about it in the same way, but it is still happening – maybe less obvious.”

“In small towns there just aren’t very many recreational activities – not many resources. It’s like  – “should we get stoned, get drunk or go watch t.v?”

 How do you know when to stop? What is “enough” for you?

You need to find a balance in your life – if you can’t keep up with your work or school life, something needs to change.”

“When you get a buzz stop.”

“It has gone too far when it starts to interrupt your daily living.”

“There are lots of web-sites on people’s experiences, dosages etc., but they’re not that helpful – every batch of stuff is different and you usually don’t know what you’re getting. There are so many variations in mixtures for something like ecstasy.”

“You have to know your sources and trust them.”

“You need to rely on your friends telling you what amount is enough.”

“It’s good learning about what my own limits are and having my own idea as to what is going too far.”

 How do you keep yourself and your friends safe?

“To be safe you need to be with friends you trust.”

“You need someone who will be there for you and put you back together.”

“We’re lucky to be surrounded by forest – people can take you into the woods and calm you down.”

“There’s a reliance on the experience of your friends.”

“It’s good if you have adults you trust – not necessarily your parents – mentors where you can call them for a ride or help if you really need it.”

“My Mom told us to try things with her first – so we knew what we were doing in a safe place first.”

“It’s hard to know what to do if you’re worried about someone who is really drunk or maybe overdosing or freaking out, because it’s pretty harsh to call the cops. Jail and the drunk tank are scary – especially if you’re on psychedelics or even really drunk.  Waking up there isn’t good.”

“You need to know the person you’re buying from.”

“We all need good friends and support people – we’re reflections of the people around us – so don’t party with psychopaths!”

 What else can we do to help people have a healthy relationship with substances?

“There should be more availability of drug testing (like at Shambhala).”

“It seems like we need a call centre where people can call for information or to support people who are scared or for friends to find out what to do if people are worried about their friends.”

“More open discussions – programs like DARE that try to scare you or have a JUST SAY NO approach don’t really work.”

“I wish we had a healthy place where we could go and do what we want, but in a supportive environment. That would be great in residences.”

“Usually in everyday life we don’t question what we’re doing so talking can be good.”

“I’m supportive of legalizing everything from alcohol to heroin. I don’t think its working to have everything criminalized and taboo.”

“Help people know their limits.”

“We need ways to have it more openly discussed so if you’re crossing the line into addiction, you know who to turn to and how to turn things around.”

“Talking about it helps so you can make good judgements based on people’s thoughts and experiences.”

“All people eat – it gets them comfortable and lets them speak their mind.”

“Eating with people seems to be a way of giving comfort and helps people to open up.”

In addition, at a recent Dinner Club at Castlegar, Leslie Comrie, Social Service Worker Instructor,  talked with the regular group that cook and eat together every Tuesday.  She asked them about how they see a good night of drinking and a bad night of drinking. 

Here are some interesting observations from that conversation:

A good night of drinking is when I remember what I did the next day.

A bad night of drinking is when I throw up. 

A bad night of drinking is when I’m upset or something is bugging me and I drink and drink myself into oblivion.


What do you think of these ideas? 

What are your experiences? 

What advice would you give to other students about healthy substance use?

120 Selkirk students have now engaged in Dinner Basket Conversations about Substance Use.  Let us know if you would like to host a meal and dialogue or have a nursing student come and facilitate one with you!

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