People under the siege of narcotics addiction can find help if they just open the door to treatment.

People under the siege of narcotics addiction can find help if they just open the door to treatment.

Help is just a step away

Last story in a three-part series about narcotics addiction.

This is the last story in a three-part series about narcotics addiction.

Some people come for addictions treatment because they want to be there, others are there because someone is encouraging them and some come because they have to.

“Most people are here because they are ready to make a change and others are here as a condition of parole or to get their kids back, but I think everyone gets something out of it. People help each other and learn from each other,” said Gerry MacDougall, clinical director, Crossroads Integrated Addictions Services in Kelowna.

The residential program, which is presently at 28 days, will be expanding to 42 days. There is always a wait list of between four and six weeks for the Interior Health-funded centre. Pregnant women are given priority to help the child, then clients in the Interior Health area and, third, people outside the region if there are beds available. Crossroads is run by a non-profit society with funding from Interior Health, private insurance plans or paid for privately by clients. Crossroads has 38 men’s beds, with 24 of them government funded, and 20 women’s beds, with 12 government funded.

MacDougall said people with addictions will get help at different stages depending on their support systems. Many see their family doctor first or a counselor at  Alcohol and Drug Services for a free assessment. The assessment is done in the community and helps people decide if they should go to a day program, have one-on-one counseling, or attend a group.

“The first stage is denial where people will say they don’t really have a problem,” he said.

“In the pre-contemplative stage, they might think, ‘maybe I have a problem but it’s no big deal, I can handle it on my own.’ This is the time to talk about how they would handle it and maybe why they are using. By the contemplative stage, they will think, ‘I’ve got a problem. I need help.’”

The fourth stage is the action stage where people will seek help by going to a doctor or counselor or to a 12-step program or rehabilitation.

“By the fifth, or maintenance stage, they have done the work but there can be slips or relapses. They might need to go back to stage four and do more work. Maybe there are mental health or other health issues to deal with. People put a lot of work into maintenance,” said MacDougall.

He said not everyone needs residential treatment and that there is often work to be done to be ready for residential treatment, including, for some people, moving from the area and people who influence them to use. Others need to detoxify. There is a medically supervised detox outpatient program at Crossroads. People who are addicted to opiates, alcohol and prescription drugs need medical supervision to detox because they are at risk for seizures and heart problems.

People come to Crossroads by applying directly, or through referrals from mental health professionals.