This week I was provided with a tour of the Needle Exchange and Safer Inhalation (NESI) Program at Somerset West Community Health Centre. I was interested in this program because I have only been exposed to substance use programs that are abstinence based. NESI is a program that offers harm reduction services to individuals that use substances. These harm reduction options include safer inhalation and injection supplies, collection and disposal of the equipment, and support through peers. The safer inhalation and injection supplies are distributed directly from staff when individuals visit the drop-in room, as well as through a vending machine outside the building. The vending machine is funded through the city of Ottawa and individuals are provided with tokens in the drop- in center to be able to acquire the supplies that are needed; each kit contains an additional token so individuals can continue to obtain supplies without having to receive a token from the drop-in centre. The drop-in centre also held various activities such as a monthly breakfast, fajita nights, peer groups, and computers for individuals to use. NESI also provides support in a non-judgmental environment, harm reduction education, advocacy, and referrals to medical services. I attempted to get photos of the vending machines but the light was not great at that time of day, I hope to be in that area again to be able to finally get a picture!
I also attended a SMART Recovery meeting in Brockville, Ontario last week. I have attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the past but this was my first SMART Recovery meeting.SMART Recovery discusses how to change self-defeating thinking, behavior, and emotion; hearing individuals thoughts as process to change these behaviors was interesting and inspiring to see.
Cornerstone Housing for Women, MacLaren Street location, celebrated International Women’s Day by having a big breakfast for the residents. There was also the opportunity for women to have a photograph of theirself by a professional photographer. For International Women’s Day, I took on the task of creating compliment bags where residents were asked to write positive comments about each other, which were then distributed to the women in the house. As Cornerstone is an agency that serves only women, International Women’s Day provided an opportunity to celebrate the women who resident at Cornerstone.
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Glad to see your reports of activities around SMART Recovery meetings (sounds like a CBT approach?), NESI, and the lovely IWD celebration. The compliment bags are ( I hope) a welcome gift for the women in the residence.
I look forward to reading your final blog posts – what this internship meant, how you reflect on your growth this semester, and perhaps – whta’s next for you after graduation this May!
Thanks for your reports from up North!
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