The Nova Scotia government is ready to open the first of four new centres aimed at helping people with substance use and gambling addictions.
The recovery support centre in Dartmouth will open Tuesday at 45 Alderney Dr. and will be staffed by a nurse practitioner, registered nurses, social workers and peer-support workers. Services offered will include in-person assessments, group programming and recovery and harm reduction supports.
It's the first of four such sites promised in last year's budget.
Addictions and Mental Health Minister Brian Comer said the centres will create a new access point to the health-care system for people in need of withdrawal management.
Comer said he expects the site will help remove barriers to getting help because people will not require a referral or consultation with a health-care provider before attending the centre.
"You can literally just … walk in right off the street," he said.
Although the focus of the centres is treating people with challenges ranging from mild to moderate, Comer said anyone looking for help should feel welcome because it can also serve as an intake option for people who need more help.
"I think it's kind of transformational," he said.
Pandemic made issues worse
Comer, who worked as a mental health and addictions nurse before entering politics, said there was a significant need for more service options even before the pandemic hit the province.
"I think that was probably exacerbated significantly … in the last two years," he said.
"We're starting to see some preliminary research and indication of the effects that the pandemic has had on mental health and substance use disorders to youth and the elderly. So it's right across the spectrum."
Similar centres will open in Cape Breton, Halifax and Truro within the next two years, joining sites that already exist for withdrawal management and substance use in Yarmouth, Middleton and Lunenburg.
The location of the Dartmouth centre, which will eventually also offer on-site withdrawal support and one-on-one programming, is temporary. The government is working to arrange a permanent home.
With the necessary staff in place, Comer said he didn't want to delay the opening any further.
The centre will initially operate Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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