The Bridge seeks more government investment to boost addiction recovery services

Kelowna non-profit can meet demand for expanded addiction services within two months

John Yarschenko and Celine Thompson of the Bridge Youth & Family Services demonstrated how the Kelowna-based non-profit could use its expertise and infrastructure to improve addictions recovery services. (Supplied)

A Kelowna non-profit organization is appealing to the Government of British Columbia to further investments to improve addiction and recovery services in Central Okanagan.

The Bridge Youth & Family Services demonstrated how it could use its expertise and infrastructure to have expanded service in place within two months of receiving government support in a presentation before the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

“The Central Okanagan has the solutions but does not have the resources to effectively respond to the segment of our community who is desperately seeking our support for their problematic substance use,” the Bridge executive director Celine Thompson said.

“As they languish on wait lists, we waste their fleeting moments of courage to get the help that they need or want.”

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Journey Home board marks success

The Bridge highlighted the need for local, live-in treatment service for youth under 19 struggling with substance use as there are only 45 publicly funded treatment beds in British Columbia, none of which are in the Central Okanagan.

The Bridge is pushing for support to build a permanent 16-bed facility for youth, but in the meantime, it is prepared to implement six live-in beds.

It underscored the need to establish rapid access to facility-based treatment for adults. The Bridge provides 20 beds serving alternating groups of men and women in six-week cycles — each of which is at full capacity and a wait list from one to four months has formed. The Bridge wishes to create six more rapid-access treatment beds.

Improvements to withdrawal management services are also necessary. The Bridge operates 10 publicly funded community beds to serve a community of around 200,000. Meanwhile, the Thompson-Nicola region has 20 beds to serve its population of around 130,000.

READ MORE: Kelowna live-in youth drug treatment program pursued

“The current Kelowna-based service is oversubscribed and witnessed more than 600 admissions in 2018-19,” the organization said.

With additional government funding, the Bridge can expand up to an additional five beds at its site and it has proposed a mobile withdrawal management program to deliver services across the Okanagan.

“This investment will increase access and responsiveness of the system, with people accessing the help they need in the most appropriate environment,” director of recovery and addiction services John Yarscheno said.

READ MORE: Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

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