Hay River to pilot addiction treatment program

Hay River, N.W.T., is getting a new pilot program to help people who are struggling with addictions.

The outpatient program, which starts in October, offers an alternative for people who can’t afford time off work or be away from family to treat their problems.

The new program is taking its cues from a similar one which ran in Fort Smith, N.W.T. There, patients would come to the program for an hour and a half each day. The lunch-hour sessions allowed for some flexibility for the participants.

The pilot program will use group activities such as artistic activities, listening to guest speakers or day trips, along with individual or family sessions with counselors.

This is the first program of its kind to run in Hay River.

The Hay River program will run for 20 weeks.

Rebecca Bruser, a clinical supervisor at the counselling centre in Hay River, said the biggest problem she sees people deal with is alcohol addiction.

Drugs and gambling problems are also prevalent.

There is currently only one place to get long-term addictions help in the territory – a 28-day inpatient program at Nats'ejée K'éh Treatment Centre on the Hay River reserve.

The program works on a monthly rotation – one month is dedicated to men and then the next to women. Patients who need immediate care are put on waiting lists.

While getting into the program on the reserve is difficult enough, getting back out can be just as hard.

“It's a big transition to being in basically an institutional site back to regular life because they're going back into the same communities, the same possible dysfunction they came out of,” said Shirley Lamalice who is with the Deh Cho Health and Social Services.

This program will mean patients don’t need to leave home for treatment.

“They are getting everything they need from gaining initial sobriety to being re-socialized into the community as sober members of society, and they're getting that while still being able to have their regular lives,” said Bruser.

Bruser said she would like to see the program extended across the territory.

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