Youth addictions centre to open in Swift Current, Sask.

·3 min read

A youth shelter aimed at addictions treatment in Swift Current is set to re-open after a three-year hiatus.

It’s tentatively planning to start accepting people in April or May, depending what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial public health orders.

“We're currently hiring for an executive director, and from there we'll be hiring for a full-time staff, so we can be able to do 24-hour care coverage,” said Shaun Hanna, the board president for Dorie’s House, also called the Southwest Youth Emergency Shelter.

The shelter operated for about nine months in 2017, but had to close down when it ran out of money. It had relied solely on community members’ funding its building and operation.

On Monday the shelter and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced the Ministry of Health is kicking in $800,000 on a multi-year contract to keep it open year-round. The money comes from the 2019-20 budget.

The shelter is to offer inpatient and outpatient support services “for youth who are experiencing problematic substance use across the province,” the government said in a news release.

Six beds are reserved for inpatient services (people who check-in on their own), while four to six beds will be for outpatient services (people referred to the shelter by the SHA). Anyone from 12 to 18 years old (inclusive) will be eligible to use the shelter.

Hanna touted the shelter’s partnership with the SHA, because it allows Dorie’s House to now help kids with drug addictions and substance abuse.

“They'll be able to help insert psychiatric staff as well as (mental health therapists) to our program,” he said.

“Imagine if you were an addictions worker, having a client and seeing them once a week, maybe for an hour ... Now you get to do really intense work with a youth who may have some substance abuse issues,” Hanna said.

Michael Seiferling, the SHA director for mental health and addictions in the southwest region, said mental health therapists will be the primary staff members working with kids on their addictions.

They have training and expertise in both fields — mental health and addictions, he said.

Therapists are to use “matrix outpatient therapy targeted toward children and youth. This is an established practice targeted toward individuals struggling with stimulant abuse,” including methamphetamine, he said.

Seiferling underscored the minimum length of treatment for a person will be four weeks, with the chance of extending it to 16 weeks. After that, he said, the program allows for follow-up care with that person and their families for up to a year later.

The therapy to be used also shows “evidence in trials that it's very effective for opioid-based disorders,” Seiferling said.

Saskatchewan is in the midst of a drug overdose crisis: The Coroners Service projects 377 drug overdose deaths in 2020. Of those, 286 deaths involved opioids, like fentanyl, carfentanyl, codeine and others. Sixty-five of those deaths involved methamphetamine.

The numbers also show accidental opioid-related deaths for males (2) and females (4) in the 10-19 age category last year.

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post