Thorpe Recovery Centre to start child-centered program

By Kassidy Christensen

March 16, 2017 12:00 AM

LIFELINE Suzie Le Brocq, clinical director at the Thorpe Recovery Centre. The Thorpe Centre will be holding Children's Intensive programs to help kids of addicts. KASSIDY CHRISTENSEN LLS PHOTO

To help the children of addicts, the Thorpe Recovery Centre has announced the launch of its new Children’s Intensive.
The programming aims to help children aged seven to 12 and their parents who are affected by the disease of addiction.
Suzie Le Brocq, clinical director at Thorpe Recovery Centre, said the centre runs a Family Intensive that allows teenagers and adults to come learn about the disease of addiction, but there was nothing for children.
“We know that addiction really destroys families, it doesn’t just affect the individual, but it affects everybody around in the family system.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, little kids really struggle growing up in an alcoholic or an addictive home,” Le Brocq said.
The four-day intensive session will bring a group of children together to talk about what it was like for them growing up in an alcoholic home, how it’s affected them, their confidence, self esteem, how to set boundaries moving forward and how to live within that environment, Le Brocq explained.
A program for children has never been offered at the Thorpe Recovery Centre, and Le Brocq explained staff is being trained by the Betty Ford Center in the U.S.
“And I believe there is a program similar that is run out of a treatment centre in B.C., but other than that there aren’t any in Canada,” Le Brocq said.
The program will be age-appropriate and help the children of addicts work through their feelings towards growing up in an addictive home through role playing, games, art and therapeutic activities, among others.
Le Brocq said the trained staff will work with the children to help them express their anger or shame towards the situation, and added a lot of children come in feeling like somehow the addiction within their family member is their fault.
“(We’ll be) teaching them about the disease of addiction, in a way that they can understand it, so that they understand that their parents aren’t drinking or drugging because they did something wrong,” Le Brocq said.
Other topics that will be taught in the program include how to set boundaries, how to ask for what they need and finding a safe place or person to go to.
For example, “if mom was the designated patient, can we identify a family friend or a grandparent or somebody that the kid can pick up the phone and say I need to come stay with you,” Le Brocq said.
Le Brocq said they know the children of addicts, when they grow up, will struggle building relationships, have a higher likelihood of becoming an addict and can have a host of emotional difficulties.
“It’s really important to break the cycle of addiction to start working with kids,” Le Brocq said.
In the last couple days of the program, Le Brocq said the parents will become involved in the intensive with the child.
“We will bring the family and the child together at the end of the program to integrate and for them to share what they’ve learned in a therapeutic setting,” Le Brocq said.
“We’ll certainly empower the child to be able to say ‘this is what I understand, this I what I’ve learned, this is what it feels like when you’re drinking,’” she said.
Le Brocq added the transition back into the family will allow the child to share what they learned in the program with fellow family members, but without “parentifying” them.
“That’s also something that we notice with kids is they grow up in an alcoholic home way too fast and they can become the parent. Part of what we’ll be teaching them is to be kids,” Le Brocq said.
Fundraising is in full swing to get the program started, and Teressa Krueckl, executive director of the Thorpe Recovery Centre, said roughly $63,000 is needed to start the program.
A generous donation of $25,000 was received in December 2016 from Greg and Laurie Hnatuk that has been dedicated to the program, and roughly $38,000 more is needed, Krueckl said.
The initial $63,000 will be put towards training staff members and working on the Harris House in Lloydminster, the facility where the children will likely be partaking in the four-day intensive and will stay on site. 
“We won’t run the kids program here (Thorpe) because this is too kind of institutionalized,” Le Brocq said.
“It wouldn’t feel like a good environment. We want to use our building in town so that needs to be remodeled and set up so it feels like a safe and friendly environment for kids,” Le Brocq added.
All meals and accommodations will be provided for the children, and Le Brocq said all the children will need to bring is clothing and something comforting, like a teddy bear.
The Children’s Intensive is anticipated to start fall 2017, Le Brocq said.
Beyond the initial $63,000, Krueckl said the goal is to continue to raise money in hopes of being able to fund children and families to go through the program.
“Our hope is that we can run the program and have to charge a very minimal amount for kids to come through,” Le Brocq said.
The centre is looking to run 24 sessions per year and one session would cost roughly $10,000 if filled to its capacity of 12 spots for children and parents.
Krueckl said the program would not be government funded.
Money to run the program would be through donations.
“We’re hoping to set up some of that bursary/scholarship kind of a set up and otherwise it would be private pay beyond that,” Krueckl said.
For those who may be interested in helping fund the program through donations, Krueckl said to contact the centre at 780-875-8890. For more information on the other intensive programs offered, visit www.thorperecoverycentre.org or contact the centre by phone.

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