Pubdate: Wed, 31 May Jun 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Don Descoteau, Esquimalt News


Symposium aims to find solutions

Steve McDougall remembers well having to be literally  "scraped off
the floor of a divy little apartment on  Wark Street" before he could
get on the road to  recovery from heroin addiction.

He considers himself lucky to have a caring family who  were able to
help him stay on the road to recovery and  place him in a long-term
detox facility, but said many  people don't have that luxury. The
system in many  instances, is failing them, he said.

"The state of treatment - even the state of  availability of detox -
are pretty close to criminal,"  McDougall said. "The fact that someone
who wants to get  clean has to wait three weeks to get a bed - so much
  can happen in three weeks."

McDougall is a member of a new community coalition  known as Voices of 
Substance. He'll be among the  panelists taking part in a day-long 
symposium hosted  this Friday entitled The Costs of Doing Nothing:  Looking 
Beyond our Current Approaches to Substance Use.

Guest speakers from the health care, police, business  and sex trade
sectors will trade viewpoints with a  selection of panelists from
equally varied groups to  get a sense of the current state of
treatment and what  direction could be taken to improve the situation.

A key point in staging the symposium, said McDougall,  is that
standing still is not an option when it comes  to helping substance
abusers in Greater Victoria get  healthy.

"The whole thing about harm reduction is that you can't  save a dead
addict. You can't offer them recovery," he  said.

McDougall said from his perspective, having healthy  choices available
for drug or alcohol addicted  individuals is the key to healing. A
problem in past  has been a "misdirection of resources," with not
enough  emphasis on working with addicted individuals to find  out
what they need.

"So much money would be saved by putting people through  treatment
rather than putting them in jail," he said.  "I don't think I would
have had a chance at recovery  had I not been in a treatment place
that was longer  than 28 days."

VOS member Connie Carter, a University of Victoria  doctoral candidate
and former administrator for  addictions research, said the goal of
the seminar is to  spark dialogue in the community on various fronts.

Not only do the health care, academic and police  communities need to
provide input on policy making, the  people most likely to benefit
from any changes need to  be involved as well.

"We can't develop social policy without input from the  people who
will be affected by that social policy," she  said. "I'm hoping we can
all come together and see each  other's perspectives in a new light.
Education can  change people."

The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the  Ambrosia Catering and
Events Centre, 638 Fisgard St.  For more information, call 361-050 or
go to 
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