New addictions treatment program for women opens as demand soars
A new addictions treatment program designed specifically for women has opened its doors as the province grapples with a growing demand for services to help individuals with drug and alcohol abuse problems.
On Tuesday, the Recovery Acres Society unveiled its CARE (Co-occurring Addiction Recovery Essentials) for Women office in Marda Loop.
Janine Copeland, program director for CARE for Women, said the short-term, outpatient-only program will “fill a gap.”
“I’ve always suspected that there has been missing pieces when it comes to programming for women. Historically, I’d always been told that addiction is addiction and recovery is recovery. That never sat right with me,” she told the crowd gathered for the grand opening.
“Women are different. We are socialized differently. We are physiologically different . . . so there are very different aspects that need to be addressed in treating women.”
The treatment program, which includes child care, will be based on a “bio-cycle, social, spiritual model,” and will include a comprehensive psychological assessment of all incoming patients and the provision of child care.
Clients will undergo an intensive treatment phase in which they take part in the program from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, for two weeks, followed by weekly aftercare sessions in the evenings for two months. That means nearly 400 clients could be treated on an annual basis.
Both Copeland and Dr. John Streukens, who designed the CARE program, say there is an increasing need for addictions treatment services for individuals of all backgrounds.
“Resources are being stretched dramatically,” said Streukens.
A 2014 gap analysis conducted by the University of Alberta School of Public Health estimated that more than 130,000 Albertans had a need for alcohol or drug addiction services that were either unmet or only partially met. It suggested that addiction services are likely underfunded as part of the overall resources available for mental health.
In February of this year, following the release of its mental health review, the NDP government increased the number of detox beds by 40. It also announced this spring it would put new dollars to increase spaces for opioid replacement treatment.
The government has acknowledged Alberta is facing an “opioid crisis,” as it deals with a rising death toll from illicit fentanyl that reached 153 fatalities in the first six months of this year.
On Wednesday, Liberal Leader David Swann will renew his call for the provincial government to declare a public health emergency to deal with fentanyl.
The provincial government provides about 40 per cent of the funding to the Recovery Acres Society but did not put dollars specifically toward the CARE for Women program.
At Tuesday’s launch, NDP associate minister of health Brandy Payne said the new program fills a need, but acknowledged there is more for the province to do on the addictions front.
“We are continually hearing from our partners in addictions treatment about waiting lists that they have for people trying to access their services . . . Long waiting times can mean the difference between life and death, especially with the fentanyl crisis,” said Payne.
Copeland said the new program is not being tailored to deal with addiction to any particular substance but expects there will be a significant demand for help with opioid abuse.
“I’ve already had phone calls for women whose primary addiction is heroin, fentanyl, morphine, things like that. So I know we’re going to see it, but ultimately we treat addiction in a consistent way.”