Based on past experience, a retired Penticton addictions counsellor feels treatment centres need to have an established set of rules in place.
“Totally they need separate regulations, it is a health issue but much beyond that,” said Barry Salaberry, who graduated with a masters degree from Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies in Minnesota in 2010 and is a Canadian and internationally certified addictions counsellor.
While attending school and after graduation he worked at centres in both B.C. and the United States, including a practicum at Sunshine Coast Health Centre in Powell River where Michelle Jansen’s son Brandon, 20, died in the spring of last year from a fentanyl overdose.
“I haven’t seen many facilities that I’ve worked in where people haven’t been able to make or get drugs on site,” said Salaberry. “If you want to live through this you can’t just be allowed to live like it is outside.
“But you have to remember too that when your main relationship is with your substance, then you do anything to maintain that relationship. They’re (relapses) going to happen, somebody’s going to get something in.”
He also noted there has to be a genuine commitment on the the part of addicts to rid themselves of their dependance.
“For some people it is more like going to get a suntan and they’re (centres) not turning on the right lights but really the addict has to turn on the light and until he does, no facility can make it happen.”
And while having past drug-abuse issues in not a requirement to becoming an addictions counsellor, it helps.
Salaberry himself kicked his own habit years ago and decided as a way of giving back to get his degree which he did at age 64 with the goal of working in treatment centres.
“I’m in recovery, I’m in my 23rd year of being clean and while I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to be in recovery in a facility, it certainly helps me know how devious you can be,” said Salaberry.
Having researched other successful centres he’s found the more stringent the regulations and things like access to followup care, the better the outcome for patients.
“That’s the only way I’ve seen it work, they’re no nonsense,” said Salaberry. “Going in the door is not the main decision, the main decision is made every moment.”