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Youth addictions: How project step is moving the mark


The facts

The need for mental health and addictions counsel­ling is important for youth, as it directly affects their educational success.

Additionally, research shows that 85% of adults struggling with addiction began using those substances when they were teenagers.

Knowing all this, it becomes immensely important to ensure casual drug use and experimentation among teenagers does not turn into substance abuse and addiction as they grow older. That’s where project step comes in.

“It’s so imperative to get youth when they’re just starting, or they’re experimenting with drugs, or they’re being impacted by substances because they’re using them to self-medicate, perhaps mental health issues. And it’s just having the conversations about addictions before they become dependent.”

In 2007, United Way Ottawa launched project step with 11 other community partners to address the need for support, treatment, education and prevention of substance abuse issues facing youth in our community.

Cindy Manor was connected with project step without even knowing it at the outset. Her son was addicted to cocaine, and in the search to find him help, they ended up accessing services at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre and Rideauwood Family and Addiction Services – both partners of project step.

Thanks to the support of project step during the many steps of her journey, Cindy and her son are on the path to recovery.

The Results

Since 2007, project step opened two residential treatment centres in Ottawa to help youth deal with substance abuse issues. Additionally, project step ensures students in all 57 high schools in Ottawa have access to school-based prevention, education and counselling.

For Cindy, project step meant her son was able to access both school-based counselling and residential treatment, and Cindy was able to access a parent-specific counselling program that helped her support her son in his recovery.

Donating to project step increases the capacity to provide addictions counselling, expand prevention, education and awareness programming, and enhance supports for parents in Ottawa.

With your help, we can accomplish even more. No one should have to wait for services to help their addiction or substance use.

“Without these amazing services in our community, I know without a doubt my son would not be here.”

As a founding partner and strong champion for project step, United Way works with Ottawa’s four public school boards, Ottawa Public Health, the Champlain Region Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), the Ottawa Network for Education, the Ottawa Senators Foundation and five local agencies to respond to the community’s concerns about youth substance use in Ottawa.




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