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New services to 'Bridge' gap for addicts

Rising from the ashes left behind following the closure of Kelowna’s Crossroads Treatment Centre is The Bridge Youth & Family Services Society, which was chosen as the replacement institution for those seeking residential treatment services and detox.

The Bridge opened its Withdrawal Management Services (WMS) unit on July 27 and its Intensive Residential Treatment (IRT) Services space on Sept. 9 of this year, the latter of which has just completed its first two intakes, one each for men and women.

The IRT portion of Bridge works in six week cycles, with its two main components made up of psycho-educational workshops and group therapy, says Jamie Mcgregor, a transition counselor with the residential treatment program.

“Our very first cycle was with men and we were at a capacity of 20 and then the second time we ran it we were at 22,” he says, noting that residents always drop out due to the nature of the program.

“We only have 20 beds in the space, but our detox will house two of them for us. So we book in 22 and will usually lose a couple within the first week and then everyone usually ends up in the same house.”

Those that make it through the application process and find themselves in the program are in for a highly structured and intensive period of time that includes workshops aimed at rebuilding residents from the inside out.

In addition to the physical, mental, social, occupational, emotional and spiritual teaching aspects included in group therapy sessions, there are also activities like yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and outings to the local YMCA to keep residents using an active mind and body.

“The yoga was very well accepted by the men and we had a lot of men make it to the gym everyday once they were here. Some of that has been very well received and some of it will have to be tweaked between the males and females.”

Mcgregor agrees that many of the people who come through their doors have made a conscious effort to change their lives, and that is why it’s neither easy nor difficult to get accepted into the program.

“They have to be connected to some sort of service provider, be it a psychiatrist or mental health worker. They need to get a TB (tuberculosis) test, a pre-admission medical form done by a doctor, and approval from income assistance to cover their funding,” he says, adding that once the application is submitted, it still must be reviewed by a three-person board, including a member from Interior Health.

“It’s not meant to keep people away from it, it’s just meant to keep people in the headspace to be actually able to make it through the program, because it’s very intensive. The days are really rigorously scheduled – there are workshops, and group therapy, and something physical every day.”

There is currently no waiting list since the program is still new to the community, but that’s expected to change once word spreads about the opportunity it provides those who are interested.

For someone with no prior support, the process could be expected to take up to two weeks to get the paperwork and testing in place for someone to enter the program.

The other facility, located a few blocks away, is the WMS unit that has 10 medically supported beds and is strictly voluntary with participants free to leave at any time.

Those that stay are monitored by a physician and receive 24-hour per day care by a licenced practical nurse. They must take part in a thorough intake assessment immediately upon arrival, and a complete physical assessment is done within 24 hours of admission. Transition planning can also begin as early as admission, particularly for those residents in need of housing.

The Bridge has been working in the Okanagan since 1969 and these services can be accessed by calling them at 250-763-0456.

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