Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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St. Joseph's Care Group

Addictions & Mental Health

Addiction Treatment for Substances (Youth)

Sister Margaret Smith Centre Youth Addiction Programs are provided in coordination within the UTURN system which is an Integrated Youth Services System together with Children's Centre Thunder Bay and Thunder Bay Counselling Centre.

Community partners, as well as youth and/or their families can contact any of the partnering agencies in order to begin the referral process to access Youth Services.


  • High on Life Program - This program is offered to Grade five students in the community. The program educates young people about the harmful effects of cigarettes/vaping, drugs and alcohol use.
  • iCraze: Growing up in a Wired World - This presentation intended for grades 4-6 classrooms, it provides information about: normal versus excessive screen use; online safety; healthy coping activities; and the importance of balancing online activities with offline activities.
  • The SMSC will also respond to educational requests to meet the presenting needs of the community.

Community Treatment

Community Based Services are offered to youth living in the Thunder Bay community and surrounding area. Community Treatment encompasses a variety of non-live in treatment options that are available to individual clients and their families. Services are delivered in the individual and group format, where appropriate service may be offered on an outreach basis. The majority of these programs offered through Sister Margaret Smith Centre Youth Addiction Programs are in coordination within the UTURN system.

Youth Addiction Programs offers the following Community Treatment Options:

Individual Counselling

One to one counselling in a community setting is available for individuals struggling with substance abuse. The focus of this service is to assist in many areas including but not limited to: stabilization and readiness for change; treatment planning; coping with grief and loss related to recovery; treatment related to trauma and addictions; examining role of substance abuse in family and relationships; developing stress management skills; spiritual exploration related to recovery & relapse prevention planning.

There are two treatment options

  • Brief Individual Counselling - 1-6 sessions
  • Longer-term Counselling - usually up to two years in duration for complex and multi-issue client needs
Family Services

A variety of support and education services are available for families/partners of individuals who are involved in substance abuse or problem gambling. Individual, couple and family counselling may be offered. Some services are offered in the group format.

Treatment and Support Groups
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skills Group DBT is a well-researched technique that is often used to support people who have difficulty managing their emotions and behaviours. The program focuses on developing a youth's skills in mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, effective interpersonal interaction, and "walking the middle path," which is a way of thinking that avoids extremes and focuses on compromise and positivity
  • Oshkiniikidjig Miikanens (OM). This is a youth driven group for youth ages 12-18 with traditional Indigenous Programming. Weekly meeting provide the opportunity for learning about land based treatments, cultural practices and community resources in order to support youth healing and connection.
  • CHOICES The Choices program encourages young people to think and act positively, build self-esteem and learn valuable life skills in a safe environment.

Live-In Intensive Treatment

Sister Margaret Smith Centre Youth Addiction Programs offers a short-term (up to 5 weeks) Live-In Intensive substance abuse treatment program utilizing a holistic approach to recovery which focuses on changing behaviour through examining beliefs and values.

The program is for youth who are:

  • Aged 16-24; and
  • Experiencing a negative impact on their lives from substance use; and
  • Require an extended period of time in a safe environment to focus on developing a healthier lifestyle.

The Youth Live-In Treatment Program is a five-week intensive program that is rooted in a strengths-based, harm reduction philosophy. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills (DBT) are incorporated throughout to enable youth to better understand and tolerate difficult emotions and challenging situations as well as foster healthy relationships within their lives.

A core goal of the program is to build the person's capacity to reduce the harms and life-interfering behaviours associated with substance use. A holistic approach is woven through the program in order to help strengthen the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual capacities of a person.

The program includes group therapy, individual counselling, psychoeducation sessions, life skills development, leisure and recreation opportunities, an introduction to self-help groups, traditional healing, and relapse prevention work.

Community resources supplement programming and foster connections to transitional services within the community. The multi-disciplinary team consists of addiction counsellors, youth workers, a family therapist, a therapeutic recreationist, medical supports, a consulting psychologist, a teacher, and a spiritual advisor.

Most components of the program are offered in a group treatment modality; however, there are opportunities for an individual focus through self-study exercises, reflection time and one-to-one appointments with a counsellor. Sessions are held throughout the day and evening.

Components of the intensive program may include:

  • Educational Sessions
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills (DBT) Skills Training
  • Therapeutic Sessions e.g. Grief and Loss, Internal Family Systems
  • Stress Management and Mindfulness
  • Spirituality
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Leisure Skills and Recreation
  • Strengths Building
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