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EFAP and Addictions Conference
Published: 2017-06-26


Author: Lisa Schroer

We discussed what the role of a Worker Referral Assistant is and how they impact our workplaces, Union and community. It is an expectation that a representative should show respect, ensure confidentiality, are open minded and approachable, offer support, are knowledgeable, aware of social issues, credible and work with their local/union/community. The group discussed harassment with respect to racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia. We discovered that people have different experiences in the same situations based on things they do not control.

As a group, we brainstormed all the community services in the area in which we lived and discussed how they could help workers and their families. With respect to helping individuals, it is important to know some of the principles of communication such as non-verbal cues and body language. Active listening involves – stop talking, listen, control feelings, fight distraction, identify main ideas, determine the purpose, and check non-verbal body dynamics. As a EAP representative, we are to avoid closed ended questions and ask more open-ended ones, to better understand the issues. It is important to empower a person to acknowledge the person's feelings. We found ways to deal with resistance and how to interview members to gain trust and get the facts. Always do a follow up call after waiting for an appropriate amount of time and EAP reps should help with post referral return to work.

In a crisis call, we are told to take control, refer to 211 emergency hot line and get the worker to a professional counselor for crisis intervention. In suicidal members, always have enough courage to ask if they have a plan. We discussed who has addictions and why. In the classroom, we learned the stages of change such as pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination.

Concurrent disorders generally describe a situation in which a person experiences a psychiatric disorder and either a substance use disorder and/or a gambling disorder. These require different treatment approaches. We defined stress as the result of any emotional, physical, social, economic or other factor that requires a response or change whether it be acute, chronic, critical stress incident or PTSD. The effects of stress have behaviours associated with it, such as drinking, eating, smoking, OCD, regression, anger or crying.

Loss or grief has no time limitations on it. The reactions to loss can be varied and it is important to know a little about funeral customs for different religions. There are sometimes, immediate reaction, delayed reactions and an adjustment period. We looked at case studies to learn how to deal with the problems and recommend action.

In conclusion, we discussed the role of worker referral assistants in the community. They would give members and the local, with knowledge about existing community services. They would provide a resource where the union members can choose to safely and confidentially explain a problem they are facing. The EAP representative should provide referrals, do follow-up, be a community liaison by making and maintaining contacts. They would work with the local union reps. to identify common issues as well.

Author: Lynn Jackson

I was privileged to attend this conference and would like to share my experience. On Friday evening I attended a plenary and listened to Ralph Walking Wolf Thistle speak about his struggles with addiction, and how he managed to change his life. He was very well spoken and held the rooms interest.

Saturday was filled with workshops. There were 2 full day programs. One being an EFAP course for first time attendees and the other was a full day non violent crisis intervention. For those not attending the full day courses there were 2 half day courses to choose from in both the morning and afternoon. Those choices were How to Work with people in 12 step recovery or Rx and Over the counter medicines- friend and Foe, Integrated Substance misuse and Trauma Treatment improving Outcomes for Men or Cannabis in the workplace. I attended the medication and cannabis workshops both were very informative.

The highlight of the Conference was the guest speaker Margaret Trudeau who spoke candidly about her battle with Mental Illness. She was very well spoken and stayed afterwards to sign everyone's books and take photos. She was very graceful and took time to speak to all 110 plus people in attendance individually. Afterwards the participants gathered around the campfire to enjoy hot dogs marshmallows and a sister from Winnipeg had her guitar and sang. She was very good.

Sunday morning was a wrap up session and a guest speaker Ned Burwell who discussed his blog UMATTER which is along the lines of a self esteem building website. All in all it was a very full weekend with excellent workshops. Excellent presenters and an awesome opportunity to network , meet new friends and continue to build solidarity.

Thank you so much.

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