Eastern Ontario’s top doctor is prescribing a smaller drug treatment centre for Ottawa, with more resources committed to aftercare.
After reviewing a report on a residential drug treatment centre for teens in Ottawa prepared by director of Addiction Services of Eastern Ontario Glenn Barnes, Dr. Robert Cushman said a scaled-down approach would ensure greater success.
Yesterday, the CEO of the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) said Ottawa should start with 20 beds, instead of the proposed 28, in order to focus more energy on ensuring the patients do not relapse.
With proper followup, and ongoing, active and assertive outpatient care in transitional housing, Cushman said it is possible to have success rates closer to 90 per cent than 50 per cent.
“If you don’t have that, the wheels come off the whole thing,” he said.
The annual cost to operate 20 beds will be around $2.4 million, at the cost of $120,000 per bed.
But more money should be directed to prevention, outreach and especially aftercare.
“We need the aftercare piece and the street health piece and transition houses because otherwise you go to this place for 90 days, then you go back to the old neighbourhood and bad habits,” he said.
Cushman said it would take time to assemble and train a successful team to staff the rehabilitation facility, but it is now a matter of choosing a site and procuring the funding.
Ottawa Police Chief Vern White, who has been lobbying for a treatment centre since he came to Ottawa, said with 360 teens ready to go into treatment, the sooner it is up and running the better.
However, White warns that it will not be a panacea for the drug problems in the city, as most intravenous drug users in Ottawa are not in the 13-17 age demographic the centre is targeting.
“This city has a big drug problem,” he said. “It’s not going to be fixed overnight.”
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