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Province launching recovery coaching program to help people dealing with addictions

CALGARY -

Dressed in bright blue jackets, volunteers will soon be hitting Calgary streets looking to connect vulnerable Calgarians struggling with addictions with support and resources.

“They’re going to work with people that are beginning or in their journey of recovery or even curious about recovery,” said Steve Gaspar, executive director of Recovery Coaches Alberta. “They’re going to work with that individual to help them achieve their own personal goals, whatever that looks like for them.”

Recovery coaches will engage with people around city parks, shelters, hospital emergency rooms, jails and correctional facilities.

15 people have just completed five weeks of training. Another group is set to start training this month.

HELP SETTING GOALS

The recovery coaches are in long-term recovery. They will guide those dealing with addictions to supports which could include finding a sponsor, accessing treatment options and making connections with community partners that help with housing and employment.

“It’s different in the way that we are not therapists, we’re not there to judge people. We’re there to meet on their level and help guide them, help set their own goals and achieve those goals,” said Sierra Hanson, who has just completed training.

Hanson said a program like this would have been beneficial to her when she was struggling with mental health issues and an addiction to crystal meth.

“I was in and out of the hospitals quite a bit and I think if I had someone really meet me on my level who had shared experience, I probably would have gotten to recovery a lot sooner,” said Hanson.

The coaches will remain in contact with the clients through their journey.

PATHWAY TO RECOVERY

The province said this is another tool to help people on the pathway to recovery.

“It won’t be just as simple as taking somebody to a shelter, taking them to Alpha House, Drop In Centre as an example, but really helping guide them to a path of detox, treatment, recovery, again trying to stop that cycle of abuse,” said Mike Ellis, Associate Minister, Mental Health and Addictions.

Ellis said the program is about connecting those struggling with addictions to multiple resources with the goal of ultimately helping someone be on a path to a better life.

The Alberta Addiction Service Providers Association has received nearly $1 million to train the recovery coaches in Calgary. The group represents over 30 detox, treatment, harm reduction, peer supportive housing and recovery operators in Alberta.

A mix of staff and volunteer coaches will be out starting in October. The province said the goal is to expand the coaching program throughout Alberta.

NEW WEBSITE LAUNCHED TO FIND PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

The province has also launched a one-stop-shop website for Albertans to find information about addiction-related programs and services.

RecoveryAccessAlberta.ca will help people find a list of services including detox or treatment centres, harm reduction services or peer supportive housing.

The website launch comes ahead of International Overdose Awareness day on Tuesday.

According to data from the province, from January to May of this year, 624 Albertans have died from an accidental overdose.

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