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Lethbridge moves forward with upgrades to intox facility

Lethbridge moves forward with upgrades to intox facility
WATCH ABOVE: New wraparound services for those battling addiction in the Lethbridge region will soon be available, as the City of Lethbridge partners with the province and the Alpha House Society to upgrade and operate the first intox centre in the city. Emily Olsen reports.

Those battling addictions in Lethbridge will soon have access to the city’s first intox centre, as a nearly $700,000 renovation to a shelter will create the community’s first Alpha House.

The province committed $400,000 to the project after announcing $1.6 million in operational funding for Lethbridge’s addiction programming last December.

The remaining $300,000 will be covered by the city from the Affordable Housing Program Municipal Block Funding, which is comprised of provincial funding that has been held since 2009.

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Lindsay Stella, ARCHES director of clinical services, believes the new facility will pair well with addiction programs already offered in Lethbridge.

“This will fill that gap for those who are under the influence and needing a safe place to stay. They will be able to go to intox services,” said Stella on Wednesday.

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“We’ve been working with intox to streamline on how to get people there safely. This would be that safe place in the wintertime where they could stay there for a period of time under the influence and they could potentially go into detox and it could be that entry point to service.”

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Lethbridge Alpha House shelter will provide a continuum of care, including intox, detox, treatment and recovery support, while taking some of the pressure off of first responders and Chinook Regional Hospital.

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The centre is set to become the first facility in the region that will welcome those who are still under the influence to seek support.

The executive director of Alpha House Calgary said the main goal of the facility is to help people at crisis points in addiction and mental health.

“It’s a safe place where people can go, or be brought to, who are under the influence of a substance,” said Kathy Christiansen.

“They can be supported to stabilize their intoxication levels — whatever they may have been using prior to coming in — and then working towards some assessment around their health and linking them to programs that would be appropriate.”

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Christiansen said Alpha House has been consulting with groups like ARCHES and the Lethbridge Police Service since October while preparing for the new location.

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The next steps involve the installation of perimeter fencing and a security system as well as the completion of renovations to the building itself, which are set to begin in January and finish in April.

“[We’re still] operating through construction but in a very tiny, little space. We just didn’t want to wait,” said Christiansen.

“The community has also built, around this particular program, a lot of resources so that we can make a broader range of referrals for folks.”

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Christiansen said Alpha House will announce an official launch date for the Lethbridge facility in the new year.