By GILLIAN SLADE on October 13, 2020.
Someone wanting to detox at the Medicine Hat Recovery Centre will wait about 10 days, and to get into the residential treatment program can take six to eight weeks, says Alberta Health Services.
“However, both programs are triage based, meaning those times can vary based on a client’s needs. Pregnant women in particular are given the highest priority whenever a treatment space becomes available,” said Patrick Burles, communications for AHS south zone.
AHS refused an interview request from the News and would only provide an emailed statement.
MHRC opened in 2016 after years of lobbying. Previously those seeking help for an addiction to alcohol or drugs had to travel to other parts of the province.
MHRC has six beds for detoxification, a process that can last between five and 10 days and is closely supervised by a physician and nursing staff. Detoxification helps people withdraw from a substance or start on an opiate replacement therapy. They are connected with counselling and other health and social support services.
AHS refused to state how many people are assisted through the recovery centre in detox and residential treatment every month and/or annually.
AHS also refused to say what happens to people who detox in hospital, whether they are put into a residential treatment program right away or have to return home and wait for an opening.
The mother of Bobby Moore, who died to suicide on Sept. 14, told the News last week that he had been in hospital three months ago. Moore detoxed and was discharged after one week.
AHS does not comment on specific cases due to privacy concerns.
MHRC also has 12 beds for the four-week residential treatment program that helps clients develop a recovery plan and connect with ongoing services and support during their recovery journey. The treatment team includes a physician, psychiatrist, nurse, mental health therapist, and recreation therapist and addiction counsellors.
Some clients are referred by healthcare professionals but many reach out on their own and are accepted into treatment.
The number of times someone returns for treatment varies. Burles says that returning is a sign of making progress, showing that a client recognizes their challenges and is willing to continue seeking help to effect change. They are always welcomed back.
In the News on Wednesday, Damyan Davis told his personal story of self harm and thoughts of suicide from Grade 6. Many years later he sought help again and again for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. In December 2014 he connected with a program and has been free of drugs and alcohol since. He encourages anyone with difficultly to reach out for help.
In August Alberta Justice announced that Medicine Hat will have a drug treatment court later this year but there will be no additional addiction treatment spaces locally. Up to 15 individuals will be going through the drug treatment court program in Medicine Hat at any given time but they will be at different stages of treatment and may not attend residential treatment at all.
MHRC also collaborates with AHS to facilitate case management and improve service coordination for addiction and mental health. Additional information about services is available by calling Health Link at 811 or the addiction helpline 1-866-332-2322.
If you are struggling right now, please reach out for help, says Canadian Mental Health. You can contact the distress centre at 1-800-784-2433.
To find out more about community supports call 211.