New facility for Lethbridge to tackle addiction and offer mental health services

The province says construction will begin on a new recovery centre near Lethbridge this fall. Courtesy: Alberta government

The Alberta government is moving ahead with a new addiction recovery community in Lethbridge.

The facility will be built on provincial land adjacent to the existing Fresh Start Recovery Centre, just east of the city.

The province says these recovery communities are the first of their kind in Alberta, and locating it next to an existing addiction treatment facility will help promote a sense of community, mutual support and collaboration.

Read more: Number of opioid deaths rising among Indigenous people; Lethbridge sees high use rates

The program manager for Fresh Start Recovery Centre agrees, saying having the two facilities side by side will remind people that they’re not alone.

“I think that if there are more supports that are available for people and if it’s adjacent or near, then a person knows that this is a safe area and it’s a community,” Jennifer Kent-Charpentier said.

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The quiet, country-like setting will allow participants to focus on their health, wellness and long-term recovery.

“It’s that continuum of care from where they’re struggling,” said Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf.

“Where we literally sometimes pick them up off the street, give them a place to stay, and then it’s that next step where we help them get their lives back and build the skills that they need to go back to a life where they are all that they’d like to be.”

Read more: Lethbridge church hosts first ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ to raise awareness for mental health

Construction of the recovery community is anticipated to start this fall and will employ about 80 people.

The government also announced Sunday it’s giving more than $300,000 to Southern Alcare Manor. The money will be used to publicly fund 11 of the beds they already have.

“It means stability,” said executive director of Southern Alcare Manor Ron Fromm. “It means that we can just relax a little bit and realize that our funding will be ongoing and that we’ll be able to run in the city of Lethbridge. We’ve been here for 45 years, and we want to stay for another 45.”

Southern Alcare Manor currently has 25 beds. With the announcement, 24 of the beds are now publicly funded.

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“We just have to scrape up funding for one bed now,” said Fromm. “That’s nice.”

Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis was in Lethbridge on Monday with Neudorf and Lethbridge Coun. Blaine Hyggen.

Ellis toured the Foothills Detox in Fort Macleod, Bringing the Spirit Home on the Blood Tribe, the temporary mobile overdose prevention service in Lethbridge and Southern Alcare Manor.

“It honestly gives people hope,” said Ellis. “It gives people hope like [Fromm] to focus on actually helping those who are most vulnerable as oppose to worrying about where the next dollar is going to come to keep the facility afloat.”

Hyggen said the funding is something the city has been requesting for quite a while.

“It’s just fantastic to see it realized now,” he said. “It’s just another step to help those in our community get their lives back on track and back in the community. We’re really excited about this.”

Read more: New report illustrates how the opioid crisis is impacting young people in Alberta

A recent report says Alberta is on course to set a new record high for youth opioid-related deaths in 2021.

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