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Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation sees huge success in 21-Day Treatment Program


It’s no hidden secret that there’s a substance use crisis all over Canada and it’s found its way to several rural communities in Manitoba. 
In an effort to provide treatment programs for those suffering from struggles with alcohol and drugs,
Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (WSFN) created a 21-Day Treatment Program to help those wishing to obtain a life of sobriety.
“For our first 21-Day Treatment Program there were nine participants who began the program, with seven finishing and graduating,” said WSFN NNADAAP Worker/Addictions Prevention Counsellor April Heide-Cote.
“As we all know, beginning a life of sobriety can be hard, especially when it numbs the pain most of us feel and struggle with. Our clients worked hard for 21 days to begin to heal from childhood trauma, their personal triggers, co-dependency and healthy boundaries. 
“They reconnected with their culture as a way to help alleviate some of those barriers and help them as they work on recovery. As we found a lot of our participants struggled with going to other locations for treatment. We knew by making it available in their home community, it would help them to focus more on themselves while learning how to deal with day-today triggers when they got home.”
Not only did WSFN’s 21-Day Treatment Program boast a high participant success rate, but it also had some breakthrough moments for those going through the program.
“When you work closely with a group of people on your own personal struggles, there’s something that bonds them together,” said Heide-Cote. “Throughout the program, I was able to watch as a family formed amongst our clients that were beautiful to see. It allowed them to find safe supports with those who are
feeling the same way they are. Our clients were able to learn healthy ways to cope with stress, depression and fear, which would lead them to use. We talked in length about self-love, healthy boundaries and helping them to understand they are not alone in their journey.”
Starting any kind of treatment program can be daunting for participants. Fear of failure and becoming vulnerable are usually two of the most common things that prevent people from participating, however,
WSFN has received such positive feedback, that more people are wanting into the program.
“When the participants first came into the program they were unsure of the unknown, were scared to let their guard down and become vulnerable to recovery, but with the help of great supports and showing love and compassion, they were able to be open to new ways of healing what was hurting on the inside,”
said Heide-Cote. “As we worked through the program, we received a lot of positive responses from community members and elders. We also heard that participants in the program were encouraging others who didn’t participate in the program, to live a sober life and inspiring others to reach out for help. 
“Since the program started, I received several calls and messages from other community members already asking when the next 21-Day Treatment Program was going to begin because they want to join.”
Obtaining sobriety is one milestone, but it’s a success that must continually be worked on every day, in order to keep it. Having solid supports after a treatment program is key to ensuring a person’s sobriety
will last. “One of the most important things we needed to implement in the program was the aftercare,”
said Heide-Cote. “Throughout the program, the participants learned how to facilitate their own AA
Meetings along with peer support groups. We created an agenda for activities in the community in the evenings to keep participants busy and active in a sober way.
“Along with that, we have the support of elders, counsellors, and traditional healers to assist with their journey. The participants also have access to after-hour support lines and online counsellors when
needed.” The success of this first 21-Day Treatment Program in WSFN has been extremely promising
and hopeful. The interest and need for another round of this program is present. 
“When we began our first program, we quickly realized the huge interest in another treatment program,”
concluded Heide-Cote. “When we can secure more funding we hope to have our program running quarterly.”