Weaning is the way to go

Benjamin Vachet
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Withdrawal Management Centre in Ottawa

In the modern and spacious building at 1777 Montreal Rd., the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre (OWMC) will continue its mission, which began in 1974.

From left, director of the Centre Ottawa Withdrawal Management, Deborah Hook, executive director of Montfort Renaissance, Jeanne-Hélène Tardivel, president of the board of Montfort Renaissance, Michelle de Courville Nicol The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, Madeleine Meilleur and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Montfort Hospital, Alain-Michel Sékula. (Photo: Benjamin Vachet)

"This is a bilingual service and is offered on an anonymous and voluntary basis, every day of the year, 24 hours a day, for men and women 16 and older who have problems with addiction to drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs and want to get out," said Jeanne-Hélène Tardivel, executive director of Montfort Renaissance, the community organization that manages the center, under the responsibility of the Montfort Hospital.

Now, some 20 employees OWMC has the means to reach their goal by welcoming patients to a new residence of 15,000 square feet, more reminiscent of home withdrawal then pejorative "detox".

"People need to be quiet in a place where they feel good to be able to get back to a good place. The old premises was not suitable," said Tardivel.

Currently, twenty beds are available, as much as the premises at the ByWard Market location. But, the capacity of the center could increase to 26 beds soon.

The project cost $7 million, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care of Ontario. The new premises were officially opened Friday, Jan. 20, and they welcome their first customers as of Jan. 28.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Madeleine Meilleur, stressed the importance of the center, the only of its kind in the region.

"I had the opportunity to visit several prisons since the beginning of my mandate. Each time, the experts agree: the first thing to avoid is the first incarceration. Without the work of such a center, we know what the consequences are."

Necessary but not sufficient

The project has however taken some time to complete.

"Everyone wanted such a center, but no one wanted it in his yard," said the member for Ottawa-Vanier, Meilleur.

Tardivel explains that by meeting and explanation, the community is now on board. Open houses were held earlier this week.

"People here are supervised at all times and register on a voluntary basis. They have a real desire to get out."

To achieve this, they will have two steps, which are the first of the long road to recovery.

"When they come, we are evaluating. At first, they must do their physical withdrawal. They remain here for the time they need in the center, depending on how their bodies react. Next, as we prepare them with a treatment plan they pursue a specialty residency."

The approach in the WMCO is not medical; however, the center relies on the proximity of the Montfort Hospital in case of problems.

Realistically, Tardieu says, "There are no miracles, the center is necessary but not sufficient. After being rebuilt here physically, patients must rebuild psychologically to find the causes of their addiction. "

(Translated by Catherine Kitts)  

Organizations: Management Centre, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care of Ontario, Community Safety and Correctional Services Montfort Hospital

Geographic location: Ottawa

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