Kelowna society hitting 'every public venue' to get support for youth addiction treatment | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna society hitting 'every public venue' to get support for youth addiction treatment

This is a partial sketch of a youth treatment and recovery centre proposed by The Bridge.
Image Credit: The Bridge Youth and Family Services
August 21, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - Everyone knows there’s an addiction crisis in B.C.

Everyone knows the government’s focus is a housing-first model – people with addictions can’t get help if the care workers can’t find them.

And everyone knows there’s an opioid crisis with far too many people dying from overdoses.

What everyone doesn’t know is that addictions are most likely to begin in the teenage years and can be best treated during that time.

“If we can invest in these people when they’re young, we’re going to save the resources on the back end,” Celine Thompson, executive director of The Bridge Youth and Family Services told “We know that the onset for substance use and addiction is in the teens. We also know that the greatest potential we have to make a change so people can learn to live and cope in ways that don’t always involve substances is best realized when people are under 19.”

Yet, there is not a single treatment and recovery bed for youth in the Central Okanagan.

“Why this province has so few treatment beds for young people is an absolute mystery to me,” Thompson said. “My sense is, a lot of the resources that are available are invested in harm reduction because the risk of death is so high so you’re having a lot of Naloxone kits, you’re having supervised consumptions sites. Those are valuable to keep people alive so I think that’s where the energy and the resources have gone.”

Last week, Thompson got the full support of Peachland council in her efforts to convince the province to fund a youth treatment and recovery centre. It’s one of many meetings she’ll be having with local governments.

“We’re spreading the word at every possible venue that will let us come in,” Thompson said. “The more voices we have on this issue, the more chance of success. Peachland was so welcoming. There wasn’t a single councillor who didn’t understand what we were talking about.”

The Bridge has been working for about two years on its efforts to get a 16-bed youth facility but knows that’s over-optimistic.

They met with Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy last year and were told to scale it back. They submitted a proposal for a six-bed facility in December.

They’ve heard nothing back from the province, despite the launch of the provincial Pathways to Hope strategy to tackle mental health and addiction issues.

Thompson says that it’s a good plan but there needs to be money put into the system to make it work.

As an agency that deals with families and youth as well as substance abuse, The Bridge has a unique perspective of the opioid crises, she said.

“When parents are looking for treatment, they call our front desk,” Thompson said. “We get these calls on a weekly basis. We’re dealing with moms and dads in tears. We’re dealing with kids that are absolutely motivated to go to treatment and we have nowhere to send them.”

But it all comes with a price tag.

The cost of treatment is about $15,000 per month per bed, or more than $1 million a year just for a six-bed facility.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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