Failing the addicted

Here is a tough article on the failure to serve addicts in Victoria, B.C. and a tougher column on the same subject.

These articles could be written about any community in southeastern Michigan.

Here are highlights from both pieces:

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has failed in its responsibility to provide addiction services, we suggested Saturday, and its failures have increased the homeless and panhandling on Victoria’s streets…

The Archie Courtnall Centre, where Barale had been based, was opened almost two years ago to provide short-term services for all psychiatric patients needing urgent help. Instead it has been swamped with those struggling with addictions.

Those patients need to be stabilized and then referred to detox and treatment centres. But VIHA has only seven adult detox beds in the capital region, not nearly enough treatment spaces and no supported residential beds to help them stay sober, Barale says. (VIHA plans to open 30 supported residential living beds for people dealing with mental illness and addiction in the region this year.) The critique is damning and credible.

The concerns have all been raised by others, including the terrible cruelty involved in turning away addicts seeking treatment knowing that the result will be continued drug use.

Strung out on cocaine or crystal meth, they pile up in the comfortable waiting room chairs of the new Archie Courtnall psychiatric facility and wait for help.

Psychiatrists say they aren’t qualified to deal with these patients’ addictions, homelessness or diseases, and can’t cope with their numbers. But they don’t know what else to do.

“It’s unethical to discharge them,” Dr. Anthony Barale, departing clinical director of the Archie Courtnall Centre said Wednesday.

With only seven Victoria adult detox beds, which often have a waiting list, Barale said psychiatrists don’t have anywhere to send the unexpected flood of addicted people.

When social workers and nurses can’t find facilities in town to place the addicted patients, Barale said he just breaks the rules and lets them stay.

“We let them detox here, spend five, six, seven days even though the [four] beds are three-day placements [intended for the mentally ill].”

Sometimes these individuals just sleep or “wear it off” while sitting in the waiting room. Some are put in the facility’s two secure rooms designed for mentally ill people who may harm themselves or others.

4 thoughts on “Failing the addicted

  1. You are always bang up to date with the “news”Web EditorDaily Dosehttp://www.dailydose.netDrugs in Sport Tel: 07875005242

  2. Dr. Barelli was wrong in his approach to fill beds for detox! Go to and see what is happening in Canada. You cannot detox people for seven days and dump them back on the street with no support especialy when you just spent $800.00 per day detoxing them! It would be cheaper to buy drugs for them. Addicts need beds, they need support, not just a bed so some psychiatrist can make big money! If Barelli was so dedicated to detoxing people then why did he leave? The other side of the coin is that htere have been people who were suicdal and homacidal refused treatment, who followed through with their threats! Open up closed down hospital floors, the ones shut down to save money. Something stinks here, but the main point here is addicts need treatment centres, but don’t deny people who are on the brink of suice or homacide their right to get help, because these beds are there to protect the citizens themselves as well as the public, and now barelli has been eating away the resources needed to keep Archie Courtnall in operations, as well needed resources to fund detox beds! What was he thinking? We also were not told what work he is doing now, we know where but not what! Good Day!

  3. Now for the rest of the story! Now the Victoria police in British Columbia are wanting hospital security guards to be given police powers to detain citizens against their will so police don’t have to wait for a medical certificate to be filled out, or wait until the citizen is seen by a psychiatrist. That would be just swell except that police are not accountable when no written objective report is given by police to hospital staff stating reasons for taking a citizen to hospital in the first place. The concerns are as follows: Police leave hospital, the physicians, nurses, family, lawyers cannot ask police any questions as they would be gone! Most times there is no written police report given to hospital. Misinformation, misconstrued, fabricated, embellished, the hospital staff should be able to form an opinion based on information from the horses mouth or at least a written report from the police themselves. When citizens can be detained and put on anti-psychiatric drugs against their free will, then we must all voice our concerns.

  4. Update! The Victoria police did not get their way, as far as getting British Columbia Government to give to security at hospitals police powers to detain citizens waiting a mental health evaluation. Note to the police: Stick around the ER, the ER staff may want to consult with you to ask questions about why you brought the citizen to them, did you contact family, read the citizen their rights etc. Police do read citizens their rights don’t they? Hospitals must ensure that information they are given is not fabricated, and that hospital staff do not drug citizens until the citizen’s advocate has had an opportunity to check the validity of their committal!

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