Forum for families dealing with youth’s substance abuse

“This is not my son’s story…it’s ours as…we transcend the guilt and shame that paralyzes families dealing with this.” May 19 in Kelowna.

Mental health issues affect one in five Canadians.

With the recent declaration of a public health emergency in B.C. concerning the surge in drug-related overdoses and deaths, substance misuse is one mental health issue continuing to generate more concern.

On May 19, The Canadian Mental Health Association and The FORCE Society for Kids’ Mental Health will host a presentation by local author and parent Tim Varga who will share his story from a parent’s perspective on surviving addiction.

“This is not my son’s story…it’s ours as his mom and dad, how we love but not enable, how we transcend the guilt and shame that paralyzes families dealing with this.”

The event, called Loving Them To A Fault, will bring the parent perspective, information, and resources together as a way to facilitate support, connection, and raise awareness about substance misuse and abuse.

Amanda Swoboda, with the Canadian Mental Health Association, said it takes a lot of courage to share a personal story related to mental health problems.

“There can be a lot of judgment that comes with talking about substance abuse in particular. The benefit of events like this one is that it shines a light on what so many people are dealing with in silence.

“We are grateful for Tim’s willingness to share and support other families.”

Tim and his wife Sandy wrote the book Loving Him To A Fault: Lessons in Parenting an Addict as a way to cope; to process the fear, anger, and the unknown, and to reach out to other families struggling with these issues.

When one person has a substance abuse issue, it can have a lasting impact on their entire family.

“We want families to know that they are not alone,”added Traci Cooke of the FORCE Society.

The forum takes place May 19, 7 p.m., at the Laurel Packinghouse in downtown Kelowna, 1304 Ellis St. While the event is free, seating is limited so interested participants are asked to register online in advance at