Fourcast Addiction Centre breaks the stigma

By Thomas Smith
Anybody in the catchment area of Fourcast’s five offices including Lindsay, Minden, Campbellford, Cobourg, and Peterborough can attend counselling and receive services offered. All of their services are offered 1-on-1.
“All of our groups are face-to-face, so in person,” says Tricia McCarthy, an addictions counsellor for 26 years. “That was different during COVID, everything was online, all virtual, but because COVID is now technically over, everything has gone back to face-to-face.
“The research tells us that face-to-face contact increases success rates for folks.”
“There’s always exceptions to that rule. We’re always working to determine those barriers so that people can access services. Ideally, it’s face-to-face.”
Some of the services that are offered in Lindsay and Peterborough include auricular accupuncture. “It helps folks manage withdrawal symptoms and some folks find it helps them regulate their emotions,” says McCarthy.
Fourcast also offers programs such as Getting Started and Weekend Planning. These groups assist participants with daily planning strategies and how to manage your weekend.
Other groups that require referrals from a counsellor include dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). DBT really focuses on making the connections between our emotions and our behaviours, whereas CBT helps people recognize triggers and how to manage them so they can make a change and maintain the change, says McCarthy.
“Anybody can call. There’s no fee. The access is basically calling us,” says McCarthy.”
“Sometimes family members will call for a loved one and so under those circumstances we can certainly give them information,” says McCarthy. “We typically want the individual who is coming, to talk to us. We want to make sure that they know who they are talking to, what we’re all about and that they have an idea of wanting to figure something out for themselves.”
“Although some folks may be mandated to come, our service is not mandated,” says McCarthy.
Although many folks are required through their probations to attend counselling services, McCarthy assures that the services offered by Fourcast are not connected to the ministry or any form of probation.
“It’s really about them. It’s a collaborative process and sometimes we need to remind folks that we are separate from the services that may be telling them to come here,” says McCarthy.
Fourcast’s primary clientele in Minden seek services for alcohol and drug use, but gambling addiction counselling is also offered.
“Statistically speaking, substance abuse and mental health concerns went up over the pandemic. The isolation and the impact of the economics, just the fear around what was happening,” says McCarthy.
Fourcast’s Minden location primarily services residents of Haliburton County.
“Haliburton County is well known for transportation barriers. We’re a very poor county, so leaving doesn’t make sense for a lot of folks.”
“One of the things that we try and work hard at is to try and use language that is not judgemental. Folks that are living with addictions of any kind feel extremely judged by the community, themselves, sometimes their loved ones, whoever they run into, it can be medical, it can be legal, it doesn’t matter where it’s coming from but the whole idea of folks that have substance abuse issues
“Alcoholic, addict, those terms, I know often are used to identify themselves as somebody who›s got a problem with a substance. I know that terminology is used for the AA programs and if that fits for people, great, but from our Fourcast perspective, we really work towards no judgement,” says McCarthy.
“We’ll use terms like problem use or dependency or addiction versus addict or alcoholic.”
After contacting Fourcast, the counsellor will work with the client to set goals, talk about processes to engage, and then check in after several weeks to determine the client’s progress.
“We will work with somebody for as long as they have an attainable goal that they are working towards,” says McCarthy. “We can sometimes be weeks, months, years. It really is dependant on the person.”
Fourcast shares its location with several other services, such as mental health services at their 5 IGA Road location in Minden. This location provides some anonymity to those wanting privacy.
“People don’t want to be seen coming into Fourcast,” says McCarthy. “They walk in the door, they could be going upstairs to go into the restaurant, or coming downstairs for mental health. For the most part, people won’t know what’s down here. The location of the office helps to create some of that privacy.”
“Some people don’t even know we’re here, so they may be looking for services and they are googling where can I find addiction support in Haliburton County and then they’ll call me and say I didn’t even know you were here.”
“Addictions can happen to anybody. There is no formula for who is going to become potentially addicted,” says McCarthy. “For me, it keeps me grounded in terms of trying to stay out of judgement we often make when we use terms like ‘they’re just an addict’ and those sorts of things.”
“It is not a surprise when you find out somebody has a trauma history, that there has also been a substance use problem as well because they are hurting, they don’t know what to do with it. They discovered that drinking helps give them a break from that, so they are going to go back to that because it worked.”
“That’s what we all do with everything,” says McCarthy.
“You often hear people go ‘well, just stop’,” says McCarthy. “It’s not that easy. You have to look at why, what’s feeding it, and create different loops.”
Social drinking and recreational marijuana usage is often accepted due to the legality of the substances, whereas using substances such as heroin, fentanyl, meth, is perceived as a highly shameful act.
“The legality of it doesn’t mean that it’s not harmful, that it’s not impacting you personally,” says McCarthy. “Part of the work is to focus on you and to work on you. Whoever you hang out with, it is going to be your norm.”
Identifying whether you have a substance use problem is a deeply personal recognition within yourself.
“What we do when people come in is we look at all the different life areas. Financial, emotional, relationship, legal, work, school, break your life up into those pockets and then assess whether or not your substance use impacts them in any way. It could be minor, moderate, or major. Sometimes other’s people’s perspective doesn’t match your perspective.”
“Really it’s about assessing your life areas and the impacts that your substance use is having. Are you missing out on things? Are you avoiding things? Can you not afford it? What are your ultimate goals, can this get you there or will it stop you?”
Fourcast offers free addiction counselling at only a phone call away. There is no age requirement to access their services and groups, but an assessment for informed consent is required. When necessary, referrals can be made to other services such as youth mental health.