The Westside Mental Health and Addiction Services is just one of the services offered in Quesnel. File photo

Quesnel’s addictions services offerings are improving

Despite citing a lack of resources, professionals say city’s programs have come a long way

Nicole Field

Observer contributor

The quality and quantity of addictions services in Quesnel has been a longstanding concern for support and health care workers in the area. It continues to be their primary focus for improvement.

The professionals say resources are lacking, but that the efforts put forth are implemented with great dedication to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Dr. Roland Engelbrecht and Dr. Ivan Scrooby, from the William’s Lake Cornerstone Chemical Dependency Clinic, travel to Quesnel every Friday to offer methadone and suboxone to people with opioid dependency.

Dr. Jon Fine was the first doctor in Quesnel to offer methadone to people struggling with addiction in the 1980s. He says this process has come a long way in the past several years and believes it is essential to those seeking help with opioid addiction.

“They’re not getting sick,” Fine says.

“They’re not drug-seeking, they’re not using needles, they’re not getting HIV or Hep C. [The process of offering methadone and suboxone] allows addicts to get through withdrawal without the pain. That’s what keeps a lot of people addicted. They start to go into painful withdrawal, both physical and psychological. The process satisfies the opioid receptors without the harmful effects.”

Harm reduction sites, as well as connections to mental health and counselling services, are offered out of the primary care clinic and the emergency room in G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital.

Season’s House has its own harm reduction supply program and take-home Naloxone program, and supplies are also available from the Friendship Centre and Quesnel’s Tillicum Society.

Reanne Sanford, the regional nursing lead for harm reduction, says that the safe disposal of needles is one of the primary focuses in the needle exchange program, so all supplies given include sharps disposal units.

Chrys Mills, an RN and the office manager at Cornerstone Clinic, says: “[These programs] help reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms of clients who are trying to stop opioid use. [However,] providing methadone and suboxone is only part of [the process.] We also direct clients to programs and services available for them to help with [other] areas of difficulties in their lives.”

Fine says there are “three pillars” involved in the process of assisting substance users to a healthier, safer way of life. Strictly implementing the medical aspect is not enough. He says a strong and supportive social base and counselling and mental health are also incredibly important.

The Westside Mental Health and Addictions centre is Quesnel’s resource for psychological support.

Sanford says that small communities create a different kind of struggle on the social front, as the stigma of addiction is quite limiting to people seeking support. She explains it’s important for those who may not understand the multi-layered reality of addiction to become educated and ask questions to fully understand why these services are required.

“Given the climate that we’re living and working in right now with the overdose emergency and losing four people a day in B.C., it’s just not OK anymore to discriminate and stigmatize a population of people that are already at risk. This just makes them feel more isolated and [in turn] puts them at further risk,” she says.

“It’s important that we as a community start taking it on and asking ‘what can we do?’ to make people feel included, valued and important.”

Fine adds that if an individual is in need of help, and takes all the necessary steps in an effort to improve their situation, a lack of social support and inclusivity means they’re more likely to fall through the cracks.

This is where Season’s House becomes a crucial space, giving people in need a place to go to feel safe, welcome and understood. But Melanie MacDonald, the executive director of Season’s House, says the system is “severely fragmented and under resourced … Season’s House employees regularly pay out of their own pocket to help people.”

In addition, MacDonald says there is a shortage of addictions specialists in Quesnel, and people who are in need of detox are sent out of town with no transportation assistance. But she believes the dedication of Season’s House makes it a keystone for individuals who require faith, support and survival.

“[We] have reversed 43 overdoses on our site and in our vicinity,” MacDonald says.

“[And] have recorded probably near a hundred more that have been reversed out in the community with kits we give out.”

MacDonald and others working in the sector believe Quesnel still has a way to go to improve resources, but Dr. Fine says Quesnel’s substance abuse support programs have come a long way.

“If you had asked me a year or two ago, I would have said no [the programs are not sufficient], but now I think we’re definitely getting there.”

Just Posted

Quesnel’s Interclub Gymnastics team swings, spins and shimmies to wins in Prince George

Interclub puts focus on performance, says program co-ordinator Elizabeth Floyd

Partners for Healthier Communities: North Cariboo seeking proposals for local food security projects

Groups with ideas or projects that promote healthy eating and food security are encouraged to apply

A quacking good time on Dragon Lake

Mother’s day paddle was excellent exercise and an informative journey

Letter: climate advocates meet with Donna Barnett and Coralee Oakes

A B.C. group travelled to Victoria to lobby for climate action

Liquor licence to be pursued for West Fraser Centre

North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee voted unanimously to obtain liquor licence for Quesnel’s WFC

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Vancouver, Squamish pipeline challenges dismissed by court in B.C.

Justice Christopher Grauer ruled the province’s decision to issue the certificate was reasonable

Early learning programs for Indigenous kids get $30M boost

B.C. government to help expand Aboriginal Head Start Association programs with three-year funding

Most Read