Criminal News
Curiosities from the world, criminal news

Daphne Bramham: Labyrinthine path to addiction recovery needs a fix

0 0
loading...

OPINION: It’s an indication of how dysfunctional B.C.’s treatment system is that funding for one girl’s recovery only materialized after her story was on the front page.

With government funding, Karly’s road to recovery has been a bit smoother. Photo: Gerry Kahrmann/Postmeda Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

A 17-year-old girl will continue getting the addictions treatment that she needs after Fraser Health has agreed to fund her recovery.

It’s great news for the young woman who has struggled with addiction since she was 13, starting with alcohol and marijuana before moving to cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.

But, it’s an indication of how dysfunctional the system is that funding for Karly’s recovery only materialized after her story was on the front page of Saturday’s Vancouver Sun.

With one British Columbian dying almost every day from an illicit drug overdose, there must be dozens of Karlys and Karls who haven’t got access to treatment.

Karly was psychotic when her mother took her to Surrey Creekside Withdrawal Management Centre on July 10 after she had overdosed on a cocktail of five drugs including fentanyl. (To protect the 17-year-old’s privacy, we’ve used the pseudonym, Karly, and not used her family’s surname.)

Before she was discharged, her mother secured a bed for her at Westminster House, a residential recovery centre for women with a separate, four-bed facility for youth.

Treatment costs $9,000 a month and even though a social worker from the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been involved with the family for more than a year, they quickly learned that MCFD would not pay for Karly to stay at Westminster House.

There was money for more outpatient treatment, which hadn’t hadn’t worked in the past. The social worker suggested that Karly might be able to go to Peak House, a co-ed youth residential facility. But co-ed residential treatment is far from ideal for any girls, let alone someone who had already been sexually exploited.

Until now, Westminster House has used money from donors to cover Karly’s care. Family and friends launched a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising $27,000 for the three months that counsellors believe is essential for Karly before the next step into second-stage recovery.

Asked why it wouldn’t pay, MCFD referred questions to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, which tossed it back to MCFD. Their officials then punted it to the health ministry. Finally, late on Friday health officials said Karly’s treatment is the responsibility of the Fraser Health Authority, which gets its funding from the health ministry.

Until Friday, FHA was “unaware of this request for a publicly funded bed at Westminster House,” according to spokesman Dixon Tam.

But since then, staff worked with Westminster House to arrange “an interim solution” for Karly to remain in treatment.

Fraser Health has 450 government-funded residential beds in the region and a 20-bed treatment centre in Chilliwack for youth aged 13 to 18 is scheduled to open next year.

At the best of times, navigating this absurd labyrinth would defeat all but the strongest. At the worst of times, it is the reason that vulnerable addicts end up defeated and dead.

One emailed response — attributable only to an unnamed government spokesperson — acknowledged “huge gaps” in the system “after nearly two decades of neglect and inaction by the previous government.”

It went on to say that since the NDP were elected, they have allocated $608 million over five years for treatment and recovery. Since 2017, $306 million has been spent on everything from supervised injection sites, oral and injectable opioid agonist therapy such as methadone and Suboxone, naloxone and overdose prevention sites, outpatient and hospital treatment to residential and outpatient recovery.

Residential treatment investments have included the Chilliwack youth centre as well as two therapeutic communities on Vancouver Island and 11 intensive-care beds in the Comox Valley.

But Liberal addictions critic Jane Thornthwaite along with others in the recovery community argue that the problem isn’t a bed shortage, there’s a government funding shortage.

On any given day, residential recovery houses have both empty beds and long waiting lists because people can’t afford to pay and the government only pays for a certain number of adults on welfare and for a set number of youth.

When Thornthwaite’s staff called to find out how many empty beds there were one day in April, there were 126.

For years, the B.C. government has argued that because addiction is a chronic, recurring disease — a health problem — governments must provide access to harm-reduction measures such as needle exchanges, supervised injection sites, overdose prevention sites, free naloxone as well as methadone, Suboxone and even heroin.

Each year, it spends millions of dollars on making access to those widely available. But it yet to take the next logical step, which is to make recovery accessible.

In the first five months of this year the coroner reports there 462 toxicity deaths in the province.

Yes, they died because of illicit drugs laced with fentanyl.

But for some, they also died because they weren’t as lucky as Karly. At crucial points in their lives, they weren’t given the chance for recovery.

[email protected]

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

Original »

loading...
Comments
Loading...