Is there any help for addicts in Sault Ste. Marie?Wednesday, March 28, 2012 by: Carol Martin
Graham Eagles has been everywhere and done everything he can think of to try to find help for a friend with a drug problem.
"There just isn't any place to get help," he says.
Eagles called SooToday.com in frustration after many calls and a few visits that yielded nothing that could help his friend.
"My friend has a family and a job," he said. "He can't just pick up and go away and he can't wait six weeks."
Eagles comes from Toronto.
He says that, when someone there wanted help for a drug addiction problem that person got it right away.
There was no navigating a maze of telephone answering systems looking for the right voice mail to leave a message.
There was no need to get a physician to refer you to a program.
No one had to wait six to eight weeks to be sent out of town for a detox program and then be dumped back on the street with no follow up care or support.
"In Toronto you could call the crisis hotline and tell them you've spent the night doing crack and you want to stop for good now," said Eagles. "They'd send a police car to pick you up and take you to a detox program. Then you had some options for recovery after detox."
Eagles knows because he's been through both drug and alcohol addiction and he said the thing that worked best for him was having something to do.
"Alcoholics Anonymous works great for a lot of people but it isn't for everyone," he said. "I'm not a religious person and I don't believe in a higher power so I had some trouble from the beginning of the 12-step program."
But there was an alternative.
When Eagles felt like drinking or taking drugs he would go to a place that people like him gathered and there were counsellors, support workers and things to do.
There he could do things that took his mind off his addictions.
"We'd go for a walk, play some baseball, sit around and play some games or what ever," he said. "It helped a lot even just to know there was a place I could go when ever I needed to."
Most importantly, it was very easy to find and access.
It's hard enough for an addict to make the first call for help.
If it's really hard to figure out where to call and who to talk to it's pretty unlikely that addict is going to keep trying to find help, said Eagles.
And by addict, Eagles means all addicts.
Everyone from the patient with a broken arm who ended up addicted to prescription pain killers to the homeless person who thinks only of drugs and the means to get them.
There are a lot of people who are wrestling with addictions and carrying on a normal-seeming life.
Programs designed to assist people who have committed crimes because of their addictions are not always well suited or adaptable to the needs of people who have addictions and are working for a living while caring for family at home.
So what's out there in Sault Ste. Marie and how do people access it?
Eagles wants to find help for his friend and he wants to help anyone he can who is dealing with addiction.
SooToday.com will be presenting a series of articles that hope to answer the questions he has raised or to explore possible opportunities to better help people with addictions who are looking for help.