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Alberta expands access to addiction treatment

The Alberta government will open 18 new addiction treatment spaces to meet the needs of people in Medicine Hat and the surrounding areas.

Medicine Hat Recovery Centre

Medicine Hat Recovery Centre

“During the Mental Health Review we heard there needs to be stronger supports in this province for people struggling with addiction. Today we are offering hope and a new beginning for people in southeastern Alberta affected by addiction. These new treatment beds are a positive step toward providing healthier outcomes for people coping with mental illness and addiction. We’ve also committed to open up to 31 additional treatment spaces in several other Alberta communities.” 

Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health

The beds will be located at the new $7.6 million Medicine Hat Recovery Centre, which will begin receiving clients on March 28. Six beds will be used for short-term medical detoxification, to help people withdraw safely from alcohol or drugs. Twelve beds will be designated for patients who need longer-term residential treatment.

The new beds more than double the number of publicly funded treatment spaces in the community.

“The new centre will help not just individuals struggling with addictions, but entire families. For families, the most important thing to know is that there’s more help than we ever realized. There’s a whole network of people in Medicine Hat working together to support people with addiction and their loved ones.”

Pat Dorward, family member of addiction treatment client

In addition to the beds opening in Medicine Hat, the Alberta government, in co-operation with Alberta Health Services and service providers, is also opening up to 31 additional new addiction treatment spaces in several communities, including:

  • three new social detoxification beds for children and youth in the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs protective safe house at Hull Services in Calgary;
  • six to eight new adult detoxification beds in Lethbridge; and
  • 20 beds that will be upgraded to provide medical detoxification services at Safe Harbour in Red Deer.

These additional beds are the immediate steps announced following recommendations from the Mental Health Review.

Opening the Medicine Hat Recovery Centre is one of several actions the Alberta government is taking to strengthen addiction treatment in the province. The new Medicine Hat spaces will replace eight temporary addiction treatment beds that had been operated by Alberta Health Services at the Medicine Hat Remand Centre.

“We knew there was a need for more detoxification and treatment services in southeast Alberta. We moved quickly to establish a temporary facility in Medicine Hat. That facility has been operating for 18 months and has helped nearly 400 people. This new permanent facility will expand treatment capacity so people can receive help when and where they need it.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, Interim President and CEO, Alberta Health Services

As of September 2015, there were 888 publicly funded addiction treatment spaces in Alberta, an increase from 855 in 2014. It is estimated that one in 10 Albertans over the age of 15 will battle a drug or alcohol dependency during their lifetime.  

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