Photo: Members of the Daytox team who worked hard to quickly move the program's services online to continue to support their clients. Top Row: Kalea Buckler, Selina Firdous, Lana Samuel. Bottom Row: Vlad Vasilescu, Heather Bowden, Jeremy Williams
Casey's* substance-use recovery journey was just getting started and confidence and stability were building. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping through communities.
"Suddenly there was uncertainty in almost all areas of my life, both externally and with regards to my own personal life," says Casey. "Relationships, work, health and financial stability were thrown into a whirlwind of anxiety and unpredictability."
Casey was referred to VCH's Daytox program for support. Daytox is a substance-use day treatment program located in Vancouver that provides holistic withdrawal management services. As of July 2, 2020, Daytox has been able to serve over 150 clients since the pandemic was declared due to the adaptation and expansion of the program to an online format — an action Casey says was lifesaving.
"The online group sessions helped immensely in providing a consistent, reliable support network that kept me grounded … and ultimately sober during the apex of the pandemic," says Casey. "Having one-on-one and group support available [online] was invaluable."
Charlotte Jackson, Program Supervisor at Daytox, explains that prior to COVID-19, the team had been hard at work updating the program's in-person curriculum.
"When COVID hit, we quickly pivoted to move all group sessions online," says Charlotte. "We wanted to remain a stable source of support for our clients."
Jeremy Williams, an addictions support worker at Daytox highlights that the team's agility to move programs online increased Daytox's intake capacity. This created space for people from the wider Vancouver community and North Vancouver who may not have been able to access resources in their communities at that time.
Casey relied heavily on this online community and the program throughout the pandemic.
"I was truly at rock-bottom. I had lost my job, partner and sense of self-worth," reflects Casey. I was feeling a sense of hopelessness and loneliness."
One of the most powerful aspects of the Daytox program is its mandate to create a safe and inclusive space for anyone who wants to take the first steps in changing their life. The daily accountability of checking in with facilitators and others in the program gave Casey a sense of hope; knowing others were going through similar issues and they were not alone on their recovery journeys.
The check-ins also helped Casey navigate some additional challenges brought about by the pandemic such as irritability, helplessness and stagnation. The team also provided information for other programs to further support Casey's recovery journey after graduation.
And the staff at Daytox didn't stop there.
"They [the Daytox team] made an effort to incorporate fun in group and encouraged us to look for fun outside of Daytox as well!" says Casey. This proved to be key in Casey's recovery, noting that fun can be easily overlooked in recovery due to the serious nature of the issues at hand.
Having found enthusiasm, optimism and self-worth within Daytox, Casey encourages others navigating recovery to explore the program. "Due to the limited interaction and lack of physical proximity to others, I would encourage people to attend as many sessions as possible to remind yourself that you're not alone during these uncertain times."
Thank you to the Daytox team for your quick actions to keep the program open and safe to support our valued clients.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.