Blood Tribe marks opening of new detox centre

A southern Alberta community that’s been hit hard by the opioid crisis is now home to a new detox centre.

A ribbon cutting for the long-awaited facility took place in Standoff, Alta. on Monday morning.

“We know people want this,” said Jacen Abrey, the Blood Tribe’s director of emergency services.

“Right now there is such a waiting list for off-reserve detox centres, and this is for members of the Blood Tribe.”

The centre will be staffed 24/7 and houses 12 beds; three for monitoring and nine for patient admittance. It’s hoped there will be a total of 22 beds by February.

The detox facility is expected to lower the number of overdoses throughout the Blood Tribe.

“We will lower the casualty rate from drug overdoses because we will find these individuals a new normal, a new life.

“It won’t be the same as before they used drugs, won’t be the same as when they used drugs, but it will be a new normal for them,” Abrey said.

To date in 2019, there have been 22 drug overdoses in that community and one death. In 2018, there were 335 overdoses and six deaths.

Patients can be admitted for 10 to 21 days depending on the severity of their addiction.

Blood Tribe health officials also believe the new detox facility will reduce the burden on first responders, who are on the front lines of the drug epidemic.

“A lot of our paramedics and EMS staff are very burnt out because they’re continuously responding to that,” said Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, a physician and medical director for the new detox centre.

“We know that this is going to reduce the burden on other entities and families within the community.”

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