The city will be moving forward with a $5,000 grant for a program that would provide training for “recovery coaches” for addicts in Penticton.
The program was proposed to council by Smart Recovery regional co-ordinator and meeting facilitator Judy Poole.
“My family, like so many, has been touched by addiction. Perhaps ‘slammed by addiction’ is more appropriate wording,” Poole said. “For a total of eight years, I learned more than I ever wanted to about substance use.”
As B.C.’s fentanyl crisis persists, Poole said the local Smart Recovery friends and family chapter has found some gaps in services for those struggling with addictions.
“Existing services are, for the most part, nine to five. Appointments are hard to get, and if you miss one, you wait weeks for the next appointment,” Poole said. “People that are using substances tend to miss appointments. The process to get into treatment is complicated enough that those of us without addiction and mental health issues would find it difficult, nevermind those with challenges.”
After helping a woman deal with legal issues, enrolling into detox and renewing her methadone, Poole said the local Smart Recovery group found peer support to be particularly successful, with that woman now seven months clean and living in second-stage housing.
That’s when the group stumbled on recovery coaching, Poole said, noting the practice is up-and-coming in the U.S., but “unheard of in Canada.”
Poole said she has taken training from the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery in Hartford, Connecticut, and asked council for $5,000 to help fund training for 15 more recovery coaches in the city and two facilitators to teach the materials locally.
Coaches will work with recovering addicts during treatment, detox and other processes, with hopes of being available in emergency wards, courthouses and jails in the future.
“For those not familiar with a drug and alcohol treatment program, it’s like being in a bubble. They are wonderful places to get clean and start the healing process,” she said, noting few do an “adequate job” of preparing those in recovery for the “real world.”
That’s where the recovery coaches would be of the most assistance, providing peer support through the more challenging aspects of recovery.
The first set of training would cost about $20,000, according to Poole, with training set for the end of the month, and the group has a $5,000 commitment from the Raymond James Canada Foundation.
Asked what would happen if the city funded its $5,000 portion, but the group was unable to find the remaining $10,000, Poole noted that she managed to get herself into the training without funding.
In a report to council, staff recommended city hall approve the cash grant, taking funds from the ‘other grants’ portion.
“This whole topic is acute. People are in dire situations, and in fact dying from the consequences,” Coun. Judy Sentes said in council, agreeing that there are gaps identified in the system. “We have wonderful opportunities for people to go through rehab, if you will, but they put them back out onto the street without any support.
“So, I’m keenly sensitive to that gap; it’s now, it’s not tomorrow or next year. It’s now, and so I’m pleased we’ve shown the flexibility to address that.”
Council voted unanimously in favour of the grant.