Province funds $1.8M for pre-treatment programs for addictions recovery in Calgary

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces funding for 20 addiction pre-treatment beds in Calgary'
Alberta announces funding for 20 addiction pre-treatment beds in Calgary
WATCH: Those on the front lines say it's the biggest gap in addiction recovery: pre-treatment beds. On Friday, the government of Alberta announced it will fund 20 pre-treatment beds for those on treatment waiting lists. As Jill Croteau reports, the recovery centre that pioneered the plan will now be able to help even more people – Jan 27, 2023

The Alberta government will be providing $1.8 million over three years to Oxford House in Calgary to support pre-treatment programs for addiction recovery.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Nicholas Milliken announced during a Friday news conference that the money will create 240 additional recovery spaces annually for those looking to access pre-treatment programs.

Pre-treatment programs at Oxford House were developed to address the needs of people who are concerned about their sobriety between detox and treatment. The program also provides people with housing if they’re needing a safe place to stay between treatment dates.

Funding for this program will also alleviate the pressure on police and other services and improve public safety, according to Milliken.

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“For many people pursuing recovery from addiction, pre-treatment support will be a critical part of their recovery,” the minister told reporters.

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“Imagine you’re someone with a history of drug or alcohol addiction and you’ve made the monumental decision to begin your recovery. You detox, and stop using, but you need help with the next step.

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“That’s why pretreatment programs are so important. It helps people develop skills to prevent relapse while they get ready for treatment.”

The announcement comes after the province reported last Friday that drug poisoning deaths have once again surpassed the 1,300 mark for a third year in a row.

Data from the Alberta substance use surveillance system showed there were 1,443 drug poisoning deaths in the province from January to November 2022. Around 1,347 of those deaths were caused by opioids.

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Last year’s 11-month total surpassed the 2020 total of 1,387 drug poisoning deaths and 1,184 opioid-related deaths. However, they were still lower than the 1,842 drug poisoning deaths and 1,621 opioid deaths in 2021.

“If (people) are asking for help, we need to make sure we’re there for them. The expectation should never be that they have to do it alone,” Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon told reporters on Friday.

“We’re meant to do this as a community. We’re meant to do this together.”

Nixon and Milliken did not provide details on how the government is planning on tracking the success of these programs, only a promise that the government will provide “transparent” data.

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“Data is one of the things that has been lacking in previous governments,” Milliken said. “We’ve made sure that our government has been the most transparent with regard to data surrounding mental health and addictions issues.

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“As we build out the recovery-oriented system of care, we’ll be able to follow and produce outcomes that will inform our decisions going forward.”

Opposition mental health and addictions critic Lori Sigurdson said the UCP needs to address the drug overdose crisis and has ignored the problem.

She said the announcement does not address the need for housing and treatment for those recovering from addiction.

“The UCP has cut funding for housing every year they have been in government, and the number of people experiencing homelessness has only increased,” Sigurdson said in a statement.

“Buildings that could have started housing Albertans were sitting empty for months while this incompetent government refused to invest in operational funding for them.

“Housing is a human right.”

— with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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