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Alberta’s government supports the innovative practice of offering an individual who has been arrested immediate access to opioid addiction treatment. Through a partnership with Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP), anyone arrested in Red Deer will have the option of immediately consulting with an addiction medicine physician.
The program’s expansion to Red Deer comes after seeing significant uptake among clients in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and rural RCMP locations. Between January and June, those centres saw more than 400 people referred to VODP for an addiction medicine consultation. Most of these individuals were able to start evidence-based treatment medications prior to their release from custody.
Thanks to investments from Alberta’s government, the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program offers same-day access to opioid addiction treatment to anyone in the province, not just those in custody. Albertans seeking treatment can call 1-844-383-7688 to get started on opioid addiction treatment immediately.
“Alberta is once again leading the nation with this innovative program to get more people connected with life-saving addiction treatment. People who commit a crime must be held accountable for their actions, but we can also treat addiction as a health-care issue while keeping our communities safe. Every Albertan deserves the opportunity to pursue recovery no matter who they are or where they interact with the system.”
“Police officers have an important part to play in helping address the addiction crisis in our communities – one that goes beyond enforcement. We’re proud to support a program that will help more people with opioid addiction access life-saving treatment that will genuinely improve their lives.”
“Alberta’s government is taking another important step to address the addiction crisis gripping our communities. Providing access to life-saving treatment to individuals in police custody is one more way we’re helping Albertans get the help they need. This program will make a positive difference in the lives of people in Red Deer – and might even serve as a turning point.”
“Helping people enter recovery from addiction and lead a more fulfilling, productive life helps us all. This partnership between our local RCMP and the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program will change countless lives in Red Deer by giving people the choice to choose a better life. Thank you to the provincial government for adding this support to the City of Red Deer.”
The VODP is available to all Albertans and, thanks to previous investments from Alberta’s government, the program provides treatment on demand. In December 2021, Alberta became the first jurisdiction in Canada to integrate access to addiction treatment with municipal jails in Edmonton, Calgary, some rural RCMP detachments, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, on the Blood Tribe, and now in Red Deer.
Through the VODP, Albertans experiencing opioid addiction can access medication-assisted treatment and counselling to help manage withdrawal symptoms. This includes access to Sublocade, a medication that lasts in a person’s system for 30 days, which has the potential to reduce the rate of opioid-related fatalities after discharge from police custody.
“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.”
“Red Deer is one of many communities that continues to be impacted by the addiction crisis. We need solutions that make choosing recovery easier for every Albertan, no matter where they’re at in their lives. These innovative solutions will provide more Albertans with the opportunity to be free from their addictions.”
In addition, DORS, a mobile app designed to prevent fatal overdoses among Albertans using opioids and other substances often while alone, is now available for download and use by anyone in central Alberta.
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.
DORS is saving lives in Alberta. To date, it has been downloaded more than 1,000 times and has more than 550 registered users, with many successful emergency medical services dispatches. DORS is free and can be downloaded to any smartphone from the Google Play or Apple app stores.
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 Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app, the introduction of a nasal naloxone pilot, expansion of opioid agonist therapy and fully covering the cost of the injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade.
- The VODP is administered by Alberta Health Services and available across the province. People dependent on opioids are treated with opioid agonist treatment (OAT) drugs and provided with ongoing support and monitoring through telehealth/videoconferencing.
- The VODP is free and can be accessed by calling 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. VODP provides same-day access to addiction medicine specialists. There is no wait-list.
- For additional support, information and referral to services, call Alberta 211 or the Addiction Helpline (1-866-332-2322) or visit recoveryaccessalberta.ca.
- The DORS app is available provincewide. Download the app on the Apple and Google app stores or visit DORSApp.ca for more information.