When the accepted answer to a problem isn’t effective, what do you do?
That’s exactly the approach that PASS (Port Alberni Shelter Society) wants to take in response to the current opioid crisis, based on extensive research of successful initiatives elsewhere.
Since 1972, PASS has worked to provide shelter, clothing, food, advocacy and support to those who are underserved in the Alberni Valley.
But beyond offering various levels of housing, including supportive housing, their facilities also include an Overdose Prevention Site, Phoenix House – a low-barrier housing site – a sobering site and their PASS Shelter Farm.
It’s the farm, in particular, which the society sees as presenting opportunities for change. The farm offers supportive & family housing, grows vegetables and provides clothing, nutritious meals, career training and more.
PASS would like to take it one step further, creating a true Therapeutic Recovery Centre.
Why Therapeutic Recovery?
While current services for the opioid crisis can help individuals make steps in the right direction – Overdose Prevention Sites help save lives and prevent disease, for example – longer term solutions are essential for those wanting to move out of addiction and into real recovery.
Whether because of the cost or space restrictions, programs are often too difficult to access. If someone does manage to access one of these Canadian treatment centres, program length is often too short for longterm success – participants may get cleaned up, only to return to their old neighbourhoods and lifestyles.
In looking for solutions to the Opioid Crisis, PASS’s extensive research has focused on the recovery sector as one way to bringing together the fragmented treatment network.
TRC’s have evolved around the world over several decade. Locally, PASS is inspired by the successes seen in places like Portugal and Italy, and other locales around the globe where social enterprise initiatives fund a multi-year recovery program – easing the otherwise prohibitive expense to families and taxpayers. Similar possibilities are eyed for the Shelter Farm.
A University of Bologna study found that 72 per cent of people surveyed who completed the Italian program remained drug free five years later, notes John Douglas, the PASS’s Special Projects Coordinator. Conversely, Drugfree.org, a US community of researchers, advocates, clinicians and others providing solutions for families impacted by addiction, states that only 10 per cent those going through traditional rehabilitation programs remain drug-free.
“One of the goals of PASS is to fill the gaps that people fall through and to promote dialogue for those gaps,” Douglas says.
You can help: Get involved, join the dialogue
To contribute ideas, volunteer, or join the dialogue about TRC in the Alberni Valley, please reach out at 250-723-6511 or visit pashelter.org.