Port Hardy RCMP partnering with local physicians in a unique and innovative approach to addiction care

Port Hardy

2020-10-13 11:38 PDT

A common complaint to the police is that an intoxicated person is causing a scene and may be a danger to themselves. Officers arrive at the location, the suspect is arrested and lodged in detachment cells for several hours. During that time their behaviour and health is monitored, and once they are fit to care for themselves they are released. Although these are common occurrences, these investigations require a large sum of officer time, and detachment resources to ensure the safety of the prisoners.

But what if that addicted person was better able to care for themselves, could avoid getting repeatedly arrested, and able to manage their addiction? What if supporting the consumption of a regulated amount of alcohol for those in a specialized program could potentially eliminate symptoms and some calls for emergency services? Gwa’dzi Managed Alcohol Program (GMAP) that is currently being piloted in Port Hardy.

The GMAP program has, to the best of my knowledge, not been done before in Canada, say Corporal Chris Voller of the Port Hardy RCMP Detachment. It is that demonstrates our organization’s steps at progressive partnerships and understanding trauma, as well as a proactive approach to certain types of crime. Alcoholism is recognized as a disease, and like treatment for cancer, alcoholism requires medical intervention. If it helps the client, assists our resourcing, and strengthens relationship with key stakeholders; it would be irresponsible not to assess and engage in such initiatives.

This program is a partnership between the local physicians and RCMP. Eligibility is not bound by race, and program clients must pay for a portion of the costs.

In order for a client to enter and remain in the program, they must adhere to a number of alcohol use and behavioural guidelines, and the client must have discussed their addiction with a physician.

Dr. Sophia Waterman of Port Hardy will be the primary physician in charge of this program. Although many local physicians are educated in the program and will be able to determine the required dosages for their clients, based on unique circumstances and the chronic level of alcohol consumption they have sustained to that point.

The Port Hardy RCMP anticipate this becoming common practice as the program increases its client base, and notes the similarity to opioid addiction maintenance programs, commonly known as the Methadone program.

Currently there is no controlled consumption site in Port Hardy, continues Corporal Voller. Two GMAP employees will deliver the dosages to clients in their residences. It has been made very clear that any liquor located through illegal means (such as open liquor in public") may be destroyed. We will absolutely support this program where able, but will not condone criminality. Our intent is to proactively support individual clients and humanize them as people, while at the same time making strides in proactive and progressive means for dealing with factors that lead to criminality. Culturally competent policing is a necessity in meeting client and community needs, and what our organization continually strives toward.

Released by

Cpl. Chris Manseau

Division Media Relations Officer
BC RCMP Communication Services
14200 Green Timbers Way, Surrey, BC V3T 6P3 - Mailstop #1608
Office: 778-290-3791
Cell: 250-413-7954

Email: chris.manseau@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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