Cowichan one step closer to seeing new sobering and assessment program

November 16, 2016

COWICHAN – A new sobering and assessment program in Cowichan will provide a safe, temporary place for people to recover from intoxication due to drug or alcohol use and connect to other services.

“Access to a sobering and assessment centre is extremely important in the stages of recovery,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “A new centre is a high priority for the Cowichan region, and will help residents make that all-important journey to wellness in their home community.”

 “This program will help improve the care experience by offering sobering services in a setting more suitable than previous alternatives, such as the emergency department or police station,” said Lisa Murphy, Island Health’s Director, Mental Health and Substance Use, central/north Island. “Sobering and assessment services also provide opportunities for individuals to access other health, social and housing supports.”

Island Health issued a request for proposals in March to find an owner/operator of a community based, sobering and assessment program to be operated in Duncan. Working in collaboration with partner organizations from the Cowichan Sobering and Detox Task Force, the Canadian Mental Health Association-Cowichan Valley Branch was selected to operate the new service, slated for opening December 2016.

The program will be open year-round out of Warmland House and provide up to six 24 hour/day sobering and assessment beds and related services. Clients will have an opportunity to use laundry and showering facilities, receive healthy snacks and a safe place to sleep.  “We are really excited,” said James Tousignant, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association-Cowichan Valley Branch, “it’s been a long time coming and now we are able to provide a full continuum of services for men and women in the Cowichan Valley from sobering and assessment, to emergency shelter beds, transitional apartments and recovery housing.”

The Sobering and Detox Task Force was led by Our Cowichan Communities Health Network and included representatives from the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, Duncan RCMP, Cowichan Tribes, House of Friendship, Island Health and other community partners. Working together, the group reviewed existing substance use services and determined that a sobering and assessment program would best meet the needs of individuals experiencing substance use challenges in the region.

This initiative is part of the Province’s commitment to work with health authorities and the not-for-profit sector to create an additional 500 substance use beds across the province for people in need of substance use services. Island Health’s portion of these 500 beds is 93 beds. To date, 55 beds have been opened throughout Island Health; the remaining 38 beds will be open early in 2017. In July 2016, Premier Christy Clark announced a new Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response. The actions being taken under the provincial task force enhance ongoing work to support and treat community members with substance use issues, a key priority of government.

Media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson
Manager, Media Relations
Island Health
250-370-8908 or Kellie.Hudson@viha.ca