N.B. addiction recovery centre expanding to add third location

·3 min read
Kathy Gorman, communications and development director for the Sophia Recovery Centre, said the need from the community has grown significantly since the pandemic.   (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)
Kathy Gorman, communications and development director for the Sophia Recovery Centre, said the need from the community has grown significantly since the pandemic. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)

The Sophia Recovery Centre — a facility that offers addiction counselling to women of all ages — is expanding from its current operations in Saint John and St. Stephen to include a Rothesay location.

Kathy Gorman, communications and development director for the centre, said the need from the community has grown significantly since the pandemic.

She said this could be due to an increase in alcohol and substance during the pandemic period when people were working at home.

She said there was also a lot of pressure on parents.

"Socially, our lives revolve around alcohol. So I think it ends up being a bit of a gradual thing," said Gorman.

She said asking for help is more difficult because of the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction.

Increase in service 

Gorman said the monthly demand for service is up 33 per cent compared to before the pandemic. Staff for the centre increased from five pre-pandemic to 11, said Gorman.

Since opening a new space in Rothesay and reorganizing its Saint John location, she said the centre has been able to offer support to all women on their wait list and they have capacity for more.

"We're having a little bit more of a voice in the community lately so I think that that's helping gain awareness," said Gorman. "I think it's through word of mouth and we're starting to work more with doctors and things like that as well to have referrals."

Julie Atkinson, executive director of Sophia Recovery Centre, said more phone calls come in from women and their families each week inquiring about programs and looking for counselling and peer support.

Rachel Cave/CBC
Rachel Cave/CBC

Why Rothesay?

Atkinson said the organization was originally searching for additional space in Saint John, but then realized a lot of the women reaching out for help were living in the Kennebecasis Valley region.

She also said some women already utilizing their services would drive to the Saint John centre from as far away as Hampton and beyond.

"It started to make sense to us to look further afield for this secondary space," said Atkinson. "And when a space came available to us in Rothesay, it just fit our needs quite well."

The new location is at 121 Hampton Road.

Right now, the Rothesay location is only offering informal peer support on three mornings each week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Women can also schedule counselling appointments there.

Atkinson said staff in St. Stephen are working with a regular group of women and there are new women joining the programs. She said it now operates out of the Neighbourhood Works building on Union Street.

Greater awareness around mental health

Atkinson said people seem to feel more confident about coming forward, due to more awareness about mental health issues.

"We tend to use the word addiction and sometimes people have a very fixed idea about what that means," she said. "The truth is that recovery is a process that is for anyone who wants to live healthier and find better ways to kind of deal with some of the stressors that are in their life."

Gorman said the peer support specialists allow women to talk to someone who went through what they are now experiencing.

She said the centre also offers informal sessions like meditation, art and yoga which provide the opportunity for the women to make friends with others in the program.

"There's a lot of bonding and relatability," said Gorman. "That's a lot of times where the real magic happens."