For 30 years, people with addiction problems have relied on the assistance of the Northern Addictions Center.
The center has helped Albertans, especially those residing in the Northwest, through its unique services. The center reached the three-decade mark in mid-June.
“One thing I would highlight about the North Addiction Center is that it is quite unique to the province,” said Carla McLean, North Zone Director of Addiction Mental Health, Alberta Health Services. “It offers a diversity of services in one place. That was initially focused on our addiction services, but with that integration with Alberta Health Services, which also expanded to our mental health services.
“One of the key things that was outstanding then and is still relevant now is simply having that unique location for clients to access a variety of services: from our detox service to our residential service, our outpatient counseling services and our opioid dependence clinics. Actually, the idea is to improve the accessibility of these services for our clients, so that our clients can flow through these different services without interruption ”.
Although anyone from any part of the province can access their services, residents of the area make up the largest percentage of clients.
“The detox service at the Northern Addiction Center is the only medical detox service in the North Zone,” McLean said. “That is definitely a key service for Grande Prairie and the area. There are quite limited residential addiction treatment services in the North Zone. “
People who need help with addiction can volunteer, but most choose a different route.
“Many people are often referred by a doctor, the criminal justice system, or family or friends may ask them to come in,” McLean said, adding that people can contact the Northern Addictions Center online.
“In Grande Prairie, there is a small central entrance for addiction (and) mental health services. It runs out of Aberdeen (Center). It is our ICAT service that is our Integrated Access and Crisis Team. Typically, they would do the initial assessment, at least for our outpatient client services, and if they felt they needed continued treatment, they would be referred to the North Addiction Center. “
The NAC is accessible to those who choose to get help of an immediate nature, vis a vis a walk-in evaluation.
“In terms of access to the residential addiction treatment program, it is often done through an outpatient service. So it could be from an existing addiction and mental health office, either in the Grande Prairie area or another area, where they would do the initial assessment and help with the application in that program.
While substance addictions make up the majority of the clientele, the NAC also helps those with different addictions.
“We have some specialized service within our gaming services,” McLean said. “I think we have four stabilization beds within the facility that can help with that, as well as our outpatient services would also address gambling.”
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