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Island's first long-term substance-use recovery program for women expected to open in late fall

Our Place Society has nearly completed its demolition phase inside the former detention centre and is preparing to renovate the space

Piles of concrete blocks and fixtures fill a former youth detention centre in View Royal, but in a few months, it will be transformed into the Island’s first long-term recovery centre for women struggling with substance use.

Our Place Society has nearly completed its demolition phase inside the former detention centre and is preparing to renovate the space, in anticipation of a late fall opening date, said Cheryl Diebel, director of New Roads Therapeutic Recovery Community for men, which is also in the former detention centre. Diebel will be the director of the women’s recovery community when it opens.

When completed, the women’s centre will have 18 single rooms and one double room, for a total capacity of 20 people, Diebel said while giving a tour of the space to reporters Wednesday.

There are currently no long-term recovery programs available for women on the Island, so women have to travel to the mainland for treatment, Diebel said.

“That means they’re separated from their family. It means they’re separated from their community supports and it also means that when they get to the end of that treatment program transitioning back to their home community is harder.”

The new program will operate much like the men’s community, which offers a nine- to 24-month program in which participants can take their Grade 12 equivalency, take part in therapy, learn how to care for their health, learn to regulate their emotions and integrate back into society without the need for substances.

People will follow a routine, starting each day with a morning meeting and a walk with all the women in the community, before going into daily programming, she said.

“One of the things that happens for people in addiction is that their life is chaos. There’s lots of things that are unknown throughout the day, on an ongoing basis. That kind of stops here and we make sure that things are structured, and that they’re predictable and that they’re safe and they’re grounded.”

The women’s program will likely have a strong emphasis on family counselling and family reunification, Diebel said.

The men’s and women’s programs will be separate, Diebel said.

Criteria for eligibility in the program include severe addiction issues, mental health challenges, an experience with homelessness and a connection to the criminal justice system.

The intake process will begin about a month before the space is ready, Diebel said. Applicants will have to apply for the program and then go through detox, unless they’re coming from the jail system, she said. In that case, people generally have to be seen by a judge to be released into the program.

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