Teena Clipston is asking for support for her son as he struggles with his addiction. (Teena Clipston)

‘Where else do we go for help?’: Okanagan mom struggles to aid son fighting opioid addiction

Teena Clipston is learning that help can be hard to find

An Okanagan mother is doing her best to get help for her son as he struggles with opioid addiction, but she’s feeling lost.

Teena Clipston and her family are longtime Kelowna residents, but she moved to Nanaimo a few years ago. Her adult children stayed in the Okanagan.

Three weeks ago, Teena received a call from a social worker in Vernon, informing her that her son Andrew was in “bad shape.” He needed help in an immediate fashion.

“She was thinking that he really didn’t have that much time left; that’s how bad it was,” she said. “On top of that, Andrew also had an overdose, but I wasn’t made aware of that.”

Teena rushed to Kelowna to see her son and get him the help he needs.

Now, as her son focusses on recovering from his overdose and getting through his addiction, Teena is learning that is hard to find help.

Teena wanted to get Andrew on methadone to manage his withdrawal symptoms before they began to search for a rehab facility to check him into. But accessing opioid agonist therapy for Andrew proved difficult, given the over-saturated support system in Interior Health (IH). Teena said it took three days of calling and asking before Andrew was finally put on methadone.

“When we finally got there, they did the intake, but we were told to come back another day to get his prescription.

“It’s not Interior Health’s fault. They’re stretched thin too, but where else do we go for help?”

Teena’s plea for help to get her son into residential treatment comes as IH is working to take addiction and mental health services operating in-house.

Jana Abetkoff with IH’s clinical operations said the health authority is focusing on harm reduction, safe supply and ensuring services match a person’s individual needs.

“Literature shows that residential treatment is not effective,” she said. “Going to a treatment centre is intrusive and it plucks them away from their community, family and job. It puts them in a false environment where they learn new skills and then they are expected to transition back into their community. It’s effective for some but not the majority.”

IH’s approach now is prescribing methadone or starting other types of opioid therapies, but that isn’t what everyone wants either.

“I told the doctor when we got the prescription that I only wanted to use the methadone to help control his pain until we got him into rehab. She said, ‘He wouldn’t need rehab if he was on methadone for the rest of his life,’” Teena said.

“If we just give Andrew methadone for the rest of his life, then he isn’t truly free either. I don’t want that.”

Teena said it’s difficult for Andrew to see the end of the tunnel and more often than not, he feels hopeless. Given the long waitlists, expensive fees and the runaround the two have experienced trying to find help, Teena said she understands why he feels that way.

But she’s not done fighting for him, and she’s asking for the community’s support to keep going.

“I would definitely love some support from people. Advice on which numbers are good to call, getting some real assistance and knowing what to do.

“I just wish I had the answers.”

If you would like to help Teena and Andrew on their journey, visit their fundraiser to donate.

READ: Interior Health warns of fentanyl contaminated crack-cocaine in Penticton


@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People watch burning funeral pyres of their relatives who died of COVID-19 in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Infections in India hit another grim daily record that day as demand for medical oxygen jumped seven-fold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan)
Liam’s Lowdown: Tell us more how COVID-19 is impacting B.C.

Compared to other provinces, B.C. releases less data on COVID-19 infections and vaccinations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

The five graduating members of the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Lakers U18AAA girls hockey team – Jessica Engelbrecht (from left), Makenna Howe, Cheree Peters, Jayden Perpelitz, and Alexis Bishop – have all committed to collegiate hockey programs in Canada and the U.S. (Photo submitted)
Vernon-based hockey squad sends 5 to college ranks

Thompson Okanagan U18AAA Lakers players heading to Canadian and U.S. programs

Richard Green writes poetry under the nom de plume Rick the Poet Warrior. Homeless, Green sometimes spends his summers in Revelstoke but winters in Victoria, travelling to Ontario to visit his sister whenever he can. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke nomad pens poetry, offers insight into homelessness

Rick the Poet Warrior’s books can be found online as well as at the Revelstoke library

(Pixabay photo)
NHL bracket challenge supporting Indigenous awards at Okanagan College

One or more Indigenous students experiencing financial barriers will be able to receive an award

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Mounties battled various sex crimes in the North Okanagan

The local RCMP sex crimes unit has been involved in a number of investigations so far in 2021

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Most Read