When we face a societal problem in Canada, we tend to do two things. First we debate, picking sides instead of taking the time to open a dialogue. Second we look for a quick-fix, hoping that spending a little money will solve whatever complex issue we face.
When it comes to BC’s opioid crisis, Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) Special Projects Coordinator John Douglas has seen other, more successful treatment models overseas, as well as elsewhere in North America, and he’s bringing that wisdom back to Port Alberni.
“Here in Canada, many of our treatment models fail in terms of long-term patient recovery, but succeed in their business-generating goals. This can be compounded by the delusion that if we spend money and pay for the consultation of experts we can “cure” addictions,” Douglas says. “The typical four- and six-week timelines are simply not adequate in helping individuals rebuild, restructure, reintegrate and move forward with their lives.”
Douglas and his colleagues visited a Therapeutic Community in San Patrignano, Italy, where clients had more time to recover and make lasting change, thanks to a self-sustaining revenue model. In Port Alberni, the Shelter Society is creating a similar model at the Shelter Farm, which will eventually offer supportive and family housing, career training, clothing, nutritious meals, and more, while growing produce to sell to the local community. It means clients can take more time to recover, and develop skills for a more stable future.
PASS has just announced new plans for the farm, which includes creating a women-only Theraputic Recovery Community —the first TRC for women in Canada.
In BC’s opioid crisis no one has all the answers, but open and honest community dialogues about drugs and drug policy can bring us closer to solutions. The breakdown in social relationships and community integration is at the root of addiction. Dialogue is an important tool in reintegrating all members of our community and building understanding.
The breakdown of this integration of the community and all its members is at the root of addiction, and dialogue is an important tool in re-building our communities. Dialogue is not debate. It’s a two-way conversation where participants listen with empathy, and hope to leave the conversation with a better understanding, not a simple solution.
To take part in and support Alberni Valley Opioid Dialogues, use the online contact form at avopioiddialogue.com/contact-us.
Since 1972, PASS has worked to provide shelter, clothing, food, advocacy and support to those who are underserved in the Alberni Valley. Learn more at portalbernishelter.com, and support Shelter Farm by buying produce at local farmer’s markets and restaurants.