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Calgary addiction recovery centre seeks to expand, reports growing waitlist for services

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The pandemic has increased the demand for at least one addiction recovery centre in Calgary. With a growing waitlist, Fresh Start Recovery Centre is now looking at expanding its services for people seeking treatment. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Aug 28, 2021

Plans are underway for an expansion of Fresh Start Recovery Centre’s post-treatment system in Calgary.

Fresh Start executive director Stacey Petersen says they’ve seen an increase in demand for treatment beds since the start of the pandemic.

He attributes that to how people have been coping with stress and job losses as well as the increase in awareness about recovery programs and people breaking through the stigma.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. We are all impacted. The societal impacts of addiction are astronomically high,” Petersen said.

Read more: Calgary addiction recovery centre links COVID-19 to spike in waiting list: ‘Nobody is immune’

Fresh Start Recovery Centre now has a waitlist of 150 people; several years ago, there would have been 100, according to Petersen.

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“The concern we have with the waitlist is the obvious: people who are waiting for treatment lose hope. Some may not make it, but that’s a reality,” Petersen said.

The annual Ride for Recovery in support of the Fresh Start Recovery Centre was held on Saturday. Some of the funds raised at the ride will go toward expansion efforts.

Between Fresh Start’s Calgary and Lethbridge facilities, there are 52 post-treatment housing beds, which Petersen said are always full.

Work is now underway to add another 80 beds to post-treatment housing.

“The demand for our services is high. We are looking at increasing our post-treatment housing right now,” Peterson said.

“We are in the beginning stages of our expansions.”

Read more: Calgary addictions recovery centre gets $7M from Alberta government

Randy Gaudry just completed a three-month stay at Fresh Start Recovery Centre, which he said has turned his life around.

“After about 20 years of addiction — of alcohol use and just being at rock bottom and being alone — I was just really sick of the way I was living,” Gaudry said.

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Gaudry’s next stop in his recovery journey will be joining post-treatment housing in Calgary.

He said with the continued support of the people he’s been with over the past three months, his future looks far more promising.

“The brotherhood, the love. Love will pull you out of a dark place, and that’s what I did for me. That’s what sticks out the most. I’m going to stay connected with everybody I met here,” he said.

“I am still early in recovery, but I’m really confident, and I have faith that my life will be better from here on in,” Gaudry said.

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