Estevan received a pre-provincial budget gift last week, when the government announced an additional 14 post-treatment beds for the addiction recovery centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The budget can be an uncertain time. There are people waiting to find out if they’re going to receive funding for the project they believe is needed. There’s obvious disappointment if they’re excluded.
The treatment for addictions is definitely needed. Not just in Estevan but elsewhere. And it goes beyond the number of in-patient beds.
It’s hard to believe it was just three years ago the provincial government announced an addiction recovery centre would be returning to Estevan. Less than six months later, the centre celebrated its grand opening.
It started with four pre-treatment slots, 20 recovery beds and six sober-living spots.
It can now accommodate 32 patients for in-patient treatment, although all 32 aren’t in use. We certainly hope that they will be filled before too long, because there are people who certainly need it.
And now we have the expansion of the post-treatment beds, which are also needed.
The government obviously thinks some good things are happening here, or they wouldn’t have increased funding for the facility twice in the past three years.
When the government announced plans three years ago to reinstate the centre at the hospital, people in the community cheered. Long-time residents remembered when it was here and the positive impact it had. They remembered the disappointment when the government of the day closed it in the 1990s. Many of them wanted to see it return.
We could all see the need in the community. And it’s not just a facility for Estevan. It has helped people from throughout the province.
It has also brought some good people to Estevan to work and provide care to those going through a difficult time. People who work in addiction treatment facilities who are dedicated and caring individuals hopefully recognize the difference they make. It’s not an easy job. Like so many in health care, it’s mentally draining.
The program that is offered in Estevan is also tailored to the needs of the patient.
Which brings us to last week’s announcement. The six sober living spots for the addictions program in Estevan have typically been full. That shouldn’t be a surprise. There have been a lot more in-patient beds than life-after-treatment spots.
It’s not a required follow-up for treatment, but you have to think it would be valuable to help people with the transition period.
Now more people who complete their training in Estevan can receive further assistance here. They won’t have to seek that care in another community.
The way we view people with addictions has thankfully shifted over the years. It used to be a source of humour for many. And you still hear a lot of jokes at the expense of people with alcohol and drug abuse problems, although they might not generate the same response as 25 years ago.
But there’s also more awareness about the root causes of addictions, in much the same way there’s more understanding about those who have mental health issues.
And there’s a greater understanding of trying to have programs for those battling substance abuse. Nobody would question the need of addiction care facilities in Estevan and elsewhere. Dropping the program that we now have in Estevan would be absurd.
It’s important that we show support for those who have substance abuse issues. Those who have made the decision to come forward, make a positive change in their lives and seek assistance deserve support.
And that’s why we need facilities like the one in Estevan, from the beginning to the end of the process.