Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2009
Source: Guelph Mercury (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Guelph Mercury Newspapers Limited
Author: Vik Kirsch
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


GUELPH - The Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy Committee is presenting a
city committee Monday an ambitious plan to enhance services for area
people struggling with drug addiction.

That includes a second-year goal of creating a 30-bed transitional
supportive housing facility in Guelph.

"It's a priority," committee chair Heather Kerr said

People who don't have a place to stay, whether in Guelph or
surrounding Wellington County, have an extra challenge getting off
illicit drugs, she said.

"It's awfully difficult to do."

But the committee, which is in its infancy, is laying some groundwork
first with detailed planning over the past summer.

The area has agencies and programs to deal with drug addictions, but
not the comprehensive approach the organization is bringing to the
city's emergency services, community services and operations committee
at 5 p.m. Monday.

That's the message from addicts and front-line health care workers,
Kerr said Friday. "They're hitting some barriers. They're finding some
gaps," Kerr said of people with addictions. "We as service providers
understand that and know that. We're going to have to work different
and smarter."

Prior to seeking transitional housing, her committee has devised an
ambitious set of goals in a first year that's about to be launched,
under the guidance of full-time co-ordinator Raechelle Devereaux.

"We're right at the action stage. That's the exciting part," said
Kerr, who is also executive director of the local Stonehenge treatment

Among the priorities for the first year, which has just begun, is
reducing wait lists for residential treatment at Kerr's Stonehenge and
the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph.

Also in October, her committee is surveying treatment referral staff
for insight into what people with addictions are choosing to do,
whether waiting for services or going outside the region as an

"Our first step is, really, quantifying the need. That's on the
horizon," Devereaux said. "Those two exploratory efforts are happening

Another priority is devising an intensive outpatient program for
people ending their addictions, to help maintain abstinence, while
another is reducing the misuse of prescription drugs.

Further, the committee is preparing to distribute information packages
to local physicians regarding prescribing narcotic drugs, the
availability of addiction resources and pain management options for
patients, Devereaux continued. They should be mailed out in November
or December.

One of the goals is establishing a 14-week prevention-focused
parenting program that brings together local agencies, including
Family & Children's Services. The intention is to strengthen family
relationships, Devereaux said.

The committee's addiction harm reduction goal includes a forum next
spring for the community at large and frontline workers in the field.

The committee's also preparing a wallet card on local addiction
services, for distribution next month and December.

In co-operation with the Addiction and Mental Health Network, her
committee is planning a free public address Nov. 4 featuring West
Coast addictions expert Bruce Alexander. It begins 7:30 p.m. at the
Scottsdale Drive Holiday Inn. To register, call Devereaux at 821-6638,
ext. 350 or email her at Alexander, an addiction counselor and educator, is author of the book
The Globalization of Addiction. It has a larger focus than the
individual addict, suggesting addiction is more a societal issue. 
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