New recovery centre in Fredericton for people with addictions

A new recovery clinic in Fredericton to treat people with addictions is one of five pilot projects in Canada that the federal government hopes will lead the way in developing best practices to help people struggling with substance abuse. 

Dr. Sara Davidson is part of the group that received a four-year grant from Health Canada to operate the River Stone Recovery Centre in downtown Fredericton.

The clinic treats people with addictions through peer support, along with some new methods, including treating people with opiate addictions through injection.

It's an alternative to receiving oral treatment for opiate addictions. 

"I can actually prescribe a liquid form of Dilaudid for them to come here and sit in one of our safe spaces here," Davidson explained, adding that people can self-inject with nurses around using clean medical supplies — all by prescription. 

Davidson said that the injectable opioid agonist therapy was accepted by Health Canada as a harm-reduction approach to treating opiate addictions in the last couple of years, and she was eager to offer it as part of the services at the new addictions centre.

Before opening the new centre, Davidson was already worked with the vulnerable population at her family practice in the Downtown Community Health Centre. That's where she gained the trust of people with substance addictions, she said. 

"We see it every day, we see the people that are suffering, we see the cost to the community, and we see the cost to the people," she said. 

Davidson said injectable opioid agonist therapy is just one of the centre's new programs and only a small part of what it offers. 

The clinic is a safe space for people with substance abuse to share their story in a non-judgmental area, and also offers workshops to fine tune life skills, such as cooking classes.

"It's a safe space for people to come, to work on their skills, and to figure out what they need to take next steps."

Peer support 

The River Stone Recovery Centre also offers peer support programs to people with addictions who work with someone who had a substance abuse struggle in the past and are now recovered.

Daniel Price is a peer support worker at the centre who had substance addictions for five years, including to opiates.

He said he turned to drugs instead of looking for mental health help following an accident that sidelined him from work.

Price said his opiate addiction left him homeless for six months. 

He eventually started going to Davidson's support groups at the Downtown Health Centre, and that led him to recovery. He takes methadone as part of his recovery.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Price said he hasn't relapsed in four years. 

Now, he's working for Davidson at the new recovery centre, where he gets to offer his life experiences with people who are currently struggling. 

"I share my story with them," Price said. "A lot of them are really surprised that I was an addict because it's really crazy how it can happen to anyone.

"When people know that you've been through it, they kind of know that they can trust the place."

Price said it's been rewarding for him to try to help others. 

"For years I didn't even want to live. I used drugs mostly to pretty much take my life."

"It actually makes me feel like I'm changing the world," Price said about his new found life helping others with substance addictions. 

Price said besides sharing his story with people he also organizes sports and other activities for people who go to the centre. 

"I just try and tell them to give them hope," Price said.

The River Stone Recovery Centre opened in July, but will start offering the injectable opioid agonist therapy in October.