Kamloops sobering centre could act as drunk tank with extra services - InfoNews

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Kamloops sobering centre could act as drunk tank with extra services

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June 25, 2016 - 11:29 AM

KAMLOOPS - A centre where people who are drunk or high can go to sober up may be in Kamloops’s future.

With medical staff and information on addiction services, a centre would be where people could come to sober up and find help, the executive director of Mental Health and Substance Use for the Interior Health Authority says.

“If we’re looking at someone with repeat presentations and a lot of use, we’re going to encourage people to access services,” Dave Harrhy says.

A sobering centre would offer a place where people under the influence of drugs or alcohol could go to sober up in the short term, similar to a police drunk tank. However, the centre would be staffed 12 hours a day, seven days a week with a nurse. Once a person sobers up, they would be offered access to addictions services.

“As they come off the substance there would be medical staff,” he says. “Rather than just a shelter, a nurse would be there for treatment options.”

A sobering centre is not currently available anywhere in the Interior Health region, but others in B.C. do exist, Harrhy says. There isn't a standard model though, and what each one does varies.

The idea for a sobering centre in Kamloops was started at a local level, with non-profits and the RCMP, while the health authority, Canadian Mental Health Association and United Way have been brought in due to the complex nature of addictions.

“This is sort of a grass roots group of people saying ‘Hey, this is a good idea,’” Harrhy says. “It’s an interesting idea certainly.”

Currently the concept has no funding, and none has been suggested by any organization. Harry estimates it will cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up, but says it’s too early to really have an estimate. A site for the centre hasn’t been identified either.

“The biggest piece is, if we’re going to do this, where does the funding come from?” he says.

He adds that while the sobering centre is an interesting idea, it’s not a priority for the health authority, and isn’t sure where it stands as a priority for other organizations.

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