Sault booklet "developed by parents for parents" to help young adults with substance use disorders

A new handbook from the Sault Area Hospital provides resources for parents of a young person with a substance use disorder. It had input from parents with lived experiences.

Sault Area hospital created 'Parents like us' with input from parents with lived experiences

Woman with blonde hair wearing blue jacket stands beside man with goatee wearing blue shirt and ball cap.
Susan Celetti is seen here with her son Jason in the 2000s. She said he was doing well during this time and even working. Jason struggled with substance use disorder for 11 years and died of an overdose in 2011. (Submitted by Susan Celetti)

Susan Celetti of Sault Ste. Marie spent 11 years trying to help her son Jason with his opioid addiction.

During that time she reached out to 50 different agencies around her community.

"We did our best with looking for direction with the help that was available at that time," Celetti said, adding each site "showed love and care" and "went the extra mile."

However, Jason died of an overdose in 2011.

It was during her grief when she saw an ad for the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Strategy board, and said she felt called to join.

That connection is how she became involved with other parents who had lived experiences, in developing a handbook for other parents.

White booklet stands inside clear holder.
The Sault Area Hospital initially published 500 copies of Parents like us, but there was so much interest from the community it had to print an additional 500 copies. (Submitted by Sault Area Hospital)

The booklet 'Parents Like Us' is from the Sault Area Hospital.

It provides resources and guidance for parents of a young person with a substance use disorder. It includes how to identify signs of addiction, how to navigate the system, where to find support and personal stories from other parents. 

The resource launched in mid-February with 500 hard copies and a digital version on the hospital's website.

Woman with blonde hair and glasses, wearing a black shirt and name tag stands in front of a tree.
Lisa Case is the clinical director for mental health and addictions at the Sault Area Hospital. (Submitted by Sault Area Hospital)

The idea for the handbook first came from Lisa Case, clinical director for mental health and addictions at the hospital. She saw a posting on social media for a similar resource in Western Canada.

"I saw that it was developed by parents and for parents out of a group called Foundry out of British Columbia and thought this is exactly what we need here," Case recalled.

It took about a year to develop the handbook. 

Case said input came from the parents who were involved, but all the guidelines and evidence-based work comes from the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction.

Extra copies needed

Case said the interest has been so great, an additional 500 had to be printed.

She attributes that to the input from the parents.

"The expertise at the grassroots or the community level --the parents that are actually in the system, they know better than anyone how to navigate that. But if you are not yet in the system you need someone to help guide you and the best individuals to do that are the ones that have been there," she said.

Some parents involved, like Celetti, experienced the loss of their child to their addiction struggles, while others had been able to find the help they needed to recover.

"Even those that had lost had success stories in the quality and the amount of time that they had with their loved ones once they were able to get the care that they needed," Case said. 

Man in white dress shirt and ball cap drapes his arm around woman in brown dress.
Susan Celetti says while her late son Jason was struggling with his addiction she connected with 50 agencies across Sault Ste. Marie seeking help for him. (Submitted by Susan Celetti)

Celetti believes the booklet will help parents who are now struggling with the same experiences she went through during  her son.

"I believe our worst problems can be used to help others," she said.

"This is for a parent that is absolutely so afraid and not knowing what to do."

Both Celetti and Case would like to see other cities in northeastern Ontario develop similar books with their respective local resources.

"I know there is a desire to spread the adaptation of the book itself," Case said.

"My hope is that everyone that needs it will have access to it in a timely way."


Angela Gemmill


Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who covers news in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to