A new voluntary withdrawal management program funded by the Interior Health Authority and run by Axis Family Resources in Williams Lake is busy.
“We have 100 per cent occupancy,” Rae Samson, a Mental Health and Substance Use Services administrator with IH said Friday. “We’ve generated a wait list, which reflects the need for the program in Williams Lake.”
Located in a renovated home within the city limits, the program has four beds available for people wanting to withdraw from alcohol or drugs.
They can stay for three to five days.
Inside the home there are two kitchens, a dining area, living room, individual bedrooms, an intake room, a garden and pagoda in a private backyard.
“We want it to be homey and not feel like an acute care facility,” Samson said.
During the last year IH launched an initiative to create 73 new beds across the region — some for withdrawal management and some for recovery, Samson said.
“We already had 20 detox beds at the Phoenix Centre in Kamloops, but having these new beds in Williams Lake really adds to the complement and allows people to have something that is a lot closer to home.”
A nurse and withdrawal manager are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and local phsycians Dr. Ivan Scrooby and Dr. Roland Engelbrecht offer support services.
“Both of them practice addiction medicine in Williams Lake and have agreed to be the physician leads on the project for us,” Samson explained. “That allows people to access the beds and be under the care of either their family physician or one of the addiction medicine physicians.”
The doctors will prescribe any medications or health care needs that are required for people who are going through withdrawal.
After the three to five day stay, patients have a number of options.
“They may go back home and be connected with an alcohol and drug addictions counsellor,” Samson said, noting other patients may go on to live in a supported recovery bed if they need to be where there is alcohol and drug-free living.
A number of recovery beds are being opened in various locations and IH is trying to establish more recovery beds for the Cariboo.
Samson noted people may go into a residential treatment program as there are a variety of options, depending on what their needs are.
It took a few weeks for the new withdrawal management program in Williams Lake to get up and running after the wildfire evacuations and alerts, but as of last Friday, the program has had the capacity to do intake seven days a week.
When asked why the number of days people stay is three to five, Samson said the evidence shows that is the length of time it takes for someone to physically withdraw from a substance.
“It depends on the substance an individual was using and the individual’s overall health. We have the flexibility in the program to match the patient’s need.”
Axis Family Resource Williams Lake branch manager Amanda Schulz said the company bid on the contract a year ago in August.
“A big part of the program is its connection with other service providers in the community,” Schulz said.
Chief executive officer Ann Smith said Axis’s founder Rick Gibson, who now lives in Kamloops, is very passionate about the program.
“He always hoped that we would have the opportunity to get into offering detox,” Smith said.
Samson said IH received funding for the program from the B.C. government to develop 500 additional substance abuse beds across the province.
Axis Family Resources also secured the contract to open an eight-bed community based withdrawal management program. in Castlegar.