Recent History – 2003
March 21, 2003, by Kelly Harris, Daily News Staff
A change in policy at a Grande Prairie rehabilitation centre has left Dawson Creek drug and alcohol counsellors looking for a new place to send people in need of help.
Brent Neumann of Dawson Creek Counselling Services said the centre has started accepting Alberta clients as primary clients with those from out of province as secondary clients. That means drug and alcohol abuse clients from Dawson Creek are being turned away and often relapse.
“Every time we call in we are put on a wait list,” Neumann said. “The window is lost (to get people in treatment) when you are put on a wait list.”
The closest B.C.-based centre is in Prince George. Neumann said sending clients that are going into detox on a five or six hour bus ride when they may be quite sick is a health risk, and therefore not done.
The Dawson Creek and District Hospital does provide some services, but they generally come after the client has been admitted for other reasons, Neumann said. Sometimes the clients work through the early stages on their own, but often they go back to drugs or alcohol.
About 200 people in Dawson Creek need detox services each year, Neumann said. With nowhere to take those people, it is impossible to know just how many could be helped or are being helped.
“Presently we’re putting out feelers and started sending out letters to different organizations,” Neumann said. “My hope is we cangenerate something — looking for potential partners. “I’m like a fly in a balloon looking around to see what is out there.”
One of the things that Neumann sees is an alcohol and drug use rate in Dawson Creek and much of Northern B.C. that is 30 per cent higher than the rest of the province. Of the 200 incidents where counsellors could send a person to a centre, they are able to send about one in four for help.
But Neumann said even that number is dubious because with the wait list at the Grande Prairie centre Dawson Creek isn’t sending anyone right now. He believes that if Dawson Creek or its immediate area were to have a rehabilitation centre, many more people within the city and region could be helped.
“More than 100 incidents a year if we had somewhere to send people,” he said. “Right now we are not even tracking how many we need to send.”
Neumann said with higher rates of usage of drugs and alcohol in the north also comes higher rates of problem users. His group not only advocates people getting help when they need it, but also reducing the overall use of drugs and alcohol in the area.
With reduced usage levels comes fewer abuse problems and one of the best ways to do achieve that is to consume “safely, respectfully and responsibly,” Neumann said.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.