Friday, July 18, 2008

Abuse treatment program praised

A man who's helped implement substance abuse recovery programs throughout the world says the Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community near Prince George is on the right track to success.

"I can't tell you how impressed I am with this therapeutic community" and how much it's achieved in a short time, said Fred Tent, who has been leading a five-day conference at the site, located 27 kilometres southwest of Prince George.
"It usually takes from three to five years to establish a (therapeutic) community so it's stable enough to stimulate those who come into it," said Tent, who attributes the success of the first seven months to the leadership and vision of Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt, who founded the program.
The focus of the conference is to learn and understand how and why a therapeutic community with a three-year program works for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

"Forty years of research on people with addiction problems shows (during recovery) that up to 90 days there is no change at all. After that, then you start to see some slight changes, and at 12 months, you can start to accomplish things. The longer they stay, the better," Tent said.
The conference attracted about 45 administrators, directors, parole officers and other resource people from around the province.
"My hope is that they go home with an understanding of the model and how it can be used throughout the province," said Tent. "The unique thing is that we also have 15 residents (at the sessions), who I hope will gain a better understanding and ability to assess their own situation."

Mayencourt, who participated in the conference lectures, workshops and group sessions, said there are now 23 residents from across the province in the program.
"We'll have 30 in September, but right now we are stabilizing the community. We still have problems, but we are growing. I've learned the community is consistently better the closer we walk and work together. Whether staff or residents, we are all one family," Mayencourt said.
Among first residents were Stefani Meinster and Jeremy Ward, who became the parents of a baby boy in May.
The couple has left the community and is now back in the Lower Mainland, Mayencourt said.
"I'm just glad they were here six months and had time to stabilize their lives," he said.

Another resident, Ken Young of Prince George, has been there since the beginning and says he is committed to stay for the long haul. He said he's doing well both physically and mentally, and is connecting more closely with family members.
Tent said the former military base and radar station location is "a perfect setting" for the three-year program due its distance from the city and the facilities available.

He added the need for rehabilitation of the site buildings, being done by residents, will give them a strong sense of ownership and belonging, and he expects a number of successful clients will become staff members and continue to work at the site.
Mayencourt modeled the centre on the San Patrignano Community in Italy, which during 30 years of operation, has treated more than 20,000 people. Research found that 72 per cent of the clients remained drug-free after stays of at least two years.