|Tammy is pictured with her granddaughter Janessa. The alcoholic mom just missed the final intake for Crossroads' six-week rehab program.|
The alcoholic mom got out of detox at Crossroads Treatment Centre on Wednesday and is now at a safe house for women. She expected to enter Crossroads' six-week rehab program to help her get better, but missed the last intake of patients by one day.
A funding crisis has forced Crossroads to close. Staff will continue detoxifying people at the centre until June, but their residential-treatment program shuts down in late March. Without it, Tammy's afraid she'll relapse and die.
"I was praying for (rehab) because you're constantly going into meetings and it's like 24/7 eat, breathe, think recovery. And I need that because I have nobody else that understands," she said.
Interior Health is scrambling to find a replacement service for people like Tammy so they can kick their substance habit. Administrators hope to find a short-term solution in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, addicts who'd otherwise have a safe place to recover in Kelowna may be transferred to Vancouver. Tammy has heard the "horror stories about Vancouver" and wants to stay here.
"It scares the hell out of me," she said. "I should be dead right now. I was in hospital four times around Christmastime . . . My family is here. I have my two grandchildren and my two daughters."
Mental-health staff assess patients who finish a detox session, which usually lasts seven to 10 days, and determine the best treatment option. Most are directed to the Kelowna Health Centre on Ellis Street, where they get outpatient services.
Those with extreme addictions can pay for private treatment if they have the money. Tammy, 44, is short on cash and ended up in a safe house where residents stay sober and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but get no treatment.
Shutting the rehab program at Crossroads will generate more visits to hospital emergency rooms, she said.
"It will be devastating to the hospitals. They'll be inundated. People who don't have residential treatment to fall back on and grow from will end up going back to the streets and may end up in hospital."
Tammy will meet with a mental-health worker to plan her recovery. If residential-treatment is appropriate, IH will find a bed outside Kelowna and arrange her transportation, said Shannon McCarthy, senior manager of mental health and substance use in Kelowna.
"We'd organize her getting there and her return. We'd ensure she gets after care, which is a critical component of treatment."
Doctors agree Kelowna needs a place like Crossroads, the only residential facility in the Okanagan that treats people hooked on drugs and alcohol. Dr. Darrell Hamm, a family doctor, said addicts need a better, more aggressive program.
Patients have undergone treatment at Crossroads numerous times without staying sober, he said. Other facilities have a higher success rate.
"People have to take their own responsibility," he said. "A lot of people in Crossroads are repeat fliers . . . We send them to detox and the ER, they come out, (take) a two-day course and they come back.
"Four, five, six times in detox. They're in and out the revolving door."
One in five of Hamm's patients is an addict. He supports Crossroads, the Gospel Mission and other programs, but alcoholism in the Okanagan isn't well addressed, he said.
He'd like to see more discipline in the treatment addicts get, whether they're rich or poor.
"Is the state responsible for rehabilitating everybody because they make bad choices along the way?" he said. "How can people who've lived through world wars and holocausts be fully functioning members of society, and (others) have comparatively slight traumas in their lives? They're falling apart and they expect the state to support them."
Interior Health officials have asked local agencies to tackle how to fill the gap left by Crossroads. They're organizing a planning day at the end of the month to discuss plans for long-term detox and substance-used services, said Shannon Hopkins, who manages community integration for IH in Kelowna.