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Alberta’s government is expanding access to services that reduce harm in southern Alberta by expanding the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) to help prevent fatal drug overdoses, particularly amongst those using at home alone.
In addition, the Medicine Hat Police Service will now be able to offer immediate access to addiction treatment upon an individual’s arrest in partnership with Alberta’s award winning Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP).
Alberta’s government is also providing $825,000 to Our Collective Journey, a Medicine Hat-based organization that supports individuals in their pursuit of recovery from addiction and mental health challenges.
“Today’s announcement shows clearly that while there is no one solution to the illness of addiction, there are innovative approaches that we can expand and improve on. We are ensuring that Albertans have access to the resources they need to stay alive, access treatment no matter where they are, and begin their pursuit of recovery and a better life.”
“I am proud that we are treating addiction as the health-care issue that it is. Medicine Hat is a vibrant, thriving community, and with improved access to recovery resources more people with addiction will have the opportunity to improve their lives and break the cycle of addiction.”
“We appreciate the provincial government’s commitment to addressing addiction and supporting mental health. Our residents are resilient, but it has been a tough few years and many in our community are struggling. Recovery takes time and resources, and I’m grateful these additional services are available to those who need help.”
In December 2021, Alberta became the first jurisdiction in Canada to integrate access to addiction treatment with municipal jails in Edmonton, Calgary, and some rural RCMP detachments. The VODP is available to all Albertans and thanks to previous investments from Alberta’s government, the program is able to provide treatment on demand. Any Albertan anywhere in the province can get same-day access to evidence-based medication treatment simply by calling 1-844-383-7688.
In addition, DORS, a mobile app designed to prevent fatal overdoses among Albertans using opioids and other substances often while alone, is now available to those residing in Medicine Hat and surrounding communities.
The DORS app can be downloaded to a smartphone free of charge from any app store or via DORSApp.ca. When using the app, Albertans will receive a call from the STARS emergency centre if they become unresponsive to a timer. If an overdose is suspected, STARS will immediately dispatch emergency medical services to the person’s location.
“The Medicine Hat Police Service is pleased to partner with the provincial government to bring this important programming to our municipal jails. We look forward to helping people who come into our cells get the help they need to address their addiction. By doing so, we are building a healthier community. For those in our City not ready to enter treatment, I encourage you to use the Digital Overdose Response System when using illicit substances.”
“Offering the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program in municipal jails is compassionate and will help those who are ready to start life-changing – and live-saving – treatment. People who want treatment should find recovery options wherever they turn. This program has a proven track record for helping address addiction and helps people live the full, healthy lives that they and their families want.”
“At Our Collective Journey, our goal is to build connections with people. Through these connections, we are able to harness the power of shared experience, reduce potential feelings of stigma and support each other throughout recovery. All our recovery coaches have personal experience and are living, breathing proof that recovery is possible.”
Alberta’s government is helping Albertans access life-saving addiction and mental health-related prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources. This includes supporting the addition of more than 8,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces; the elimination of daily user fees for publicly funded residential addiction treatment; a new patient matching tool, Recovery Access Alberta; and services to reduce harm, such as the introduction of DORS, a nasal naloxone pilot, expansion of opioid agonist therapy and fully covering the cost of the injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade.
- Administered by Alberta Health Services, the VODP is available throughout the province to all Albertans. People dependent on opioids are treated with opioid agonist therapy (OAT) drugs and provided with ongoing support and monitoring in an outpatient setting. When taken as prescribed, OAT drugs help a person function normally by managing withdrawal symptoms.
- The VODP can be accessed by calling 1-844-383-7688. The toll-free line is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There is no wait-list for the program.
- OAT medications are covered through supplementary government-sponsored health benefit plans. Albertans who do not have a health benefit plan can apply for the OAT gap coverage so they can start treatment right away for free as they arrange supplementary health benefits. The medication Sublocade is now an OAT medication covered through government-sponsored health benefit plans and the gap coverage program.
- Individuals in Medicine Hat and surrounding communities now have access to the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS), a free, confidential mobile app designed to prevent fatal overdoses. Find the app on the Apple and Google app store or by visiting DORSApp.ca.
- Approximately 70 per cent of opioid-related deaths in Alberta occur in private residences, often among those using opioids or other substances while alone.
- For additional support, information and referral to services, call Alberta 211 or the Addiction Helpline (1-866-332-2322) or visit recoveryaccessalberta.ca.
- Medicine Hat residents can also reach out to Our Collective Journey to receive recovery coaching support from people with similar experiences.