Government of Alberta Announces Thousands of New Drug Treatment Spaces

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As Alberta continues to manage its devastating opioid crisis, Premier Jason Kenney announced on Saturday that the province is taking a big step forward in providing support services to Albertans struggling with drug addiction.

Speaking from the Fresh Start Recovery Center in Calgary, the Premier was joined by Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis to present a strong plan to help Albertans cope with their addictions and to find the way to recovery.

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In 2019, the province announced a four-year commitment to fund 4,000 drug treatment spaces – a number it says has now doubled in half the time.

“Each year, more than 8,000 more Albertans will have access to fully funded residential drug treatment and residential recovery services that were not previously available,” said Kenney.

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The government also announced the creation of the My Recovery Plan software, a soon to be released program that will allow users to customize their own recovery plan.

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Lori Sigurdson, Alberta NDP MP and Addiction and Mental Health Critic, says she is happy the government is adding more treatment spaces, but the plan falls short of the need for treatment services. harm reduction.

“We have to support people where they are,” says Sigurdson. “Unfortunately, this announcement today is about recovery, but people cannot access these beds if they are dead.”

UCP has cut harm reduction services in recent months, including a planned closure of the supervised consumption site at the Sheldon Chumir Center in Calgary’s Beltline neighborhood.

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In addition to the province’s existing harm reduction services, a digital format is also available.

Kenney and Ellis both pointed to the Digital Overdose Response System, an app that allows drug users to set a timer on their phone before injecting or inhaling substances. If the user does not respond after the timer has elapsed, EMS is sent to their location.

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Dr Monty Ghosh, a physician and addiction specialist, was a consultant on the app. He says that since 50 to 70 percent of overdoses take place indoors, the app can help target drug users who face barriers such as distance or fear of being recognized by them. prevent personal attendance at a supervised injection site.

“I think supervised physical consumption sites are the gold standard,” says Ghosh. “This is an additional tool to help others who may not be able to access these sites. “

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The government previously announced that it would open two new harm reduction sites in place of the one at the Sheldon Chumir Center once it closes.

Ellis was not able to provide a specific date for the opening of the sites, only that there will be no disruption in service.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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