Yesterday I called Alberta Health Services, the 1-800 addictions information line. I was supposed to do this long ago, but I have an intense dislike of talking to people I don’t know on the telephone. Unfortunately there are no ways of emailing or texting to get information here… Something that really should be rectified in my opinion.

Anyway, I inquired about resources for myself and my children so that we could better navigate Sean’s alcoholism and the situation of a slip or relapse. She asked me some questions that didn’t seem completely relevant, then asked me for some personal information to start a file, and then gave me a number for somewhere local I could contact. I called the new number, listened to the choices I could select… None of which applied to me yet, so I chose to speak to the receptionist so that she could better direct my call.

When I explained the situation for the 2nd time, I could hear myself trying to detach and approach the situation clinically. And then the tears just started flowing. I kept my voice as steady as I could, as I wasn’t prepared to have this woman on the other line who doesn’t know me or my situation offer some sort of… anything. I didn’t want anything from this stranger on the other end except for the information I sought. She listened to the information I gave, then suggested I talk to someone specific at the office, with whom I could make an appointment for myself and my girls, so then transferred me to her number.

Of course there was no answer so I was sent to voice-mail, where for a third time I described what I was looking for and clearly left my name and number so that I could set up an appointment.

I called yesterday, around 3 pm for this information. I am still waiting for a call back so that we can move this process forward.

I find the process of trying to find help for addictions to be extremely frustrating. When Sean was in rehab, our family, his support system, wasn’t offered any support or help for ourselves. There was also no follow up at all with him once we left his 10 day treatment program. That’s a recipe for failure if you ask me.

I find our system to be reactive at the very minimal level required instead of proactive. When someone is arrested for a DUI why aren’t they given information immediately on addictions and where to go to get help if needed? When someone enters rehab, why are the professionals not contacting family to see what kind of help, support, counselling, etc. they might need? But hey, we have “free” health care so we should just be thankful for that.


3 thoughts on “Waiting

  1. As a reader, I find this post very touching and moving. As a health policy researcher, I find it to be the seeds of a very good recommended public policy change that should be addressed by your representatives. I hope you’ll call them up and tell them your story – you could be the catalyst for a positive change in your community! Your health care system is supposed to be coordinated much better than ours down here in the States, but I agree that it’s failing you and that should be addressed with sytemic change.

    • Thank you. I think that once we are little further into the process, I will contact some of these people (after I figure out who I exactly I should be contacting) and share our struggles with finding adequate and timely supports. The counsellor called back, left a message as I wasn’t able to get to my phone at that time, letting me know that she would be away for a couple of days, so gave me yet another number for a different counsellor to call…

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