Rehab program seeing progress in Merritt

By on January 3, 2018
The office of the Daily Addictions Recovery Program has been busy over the past year, as 17 individuals participated in the abstinence-based treatment centre. (Michael Potestio/Herald).


Addictions programs in Merritt are showing signs of success, a year after they were first introduced.

After its first year in operation, a local drug treatment and housing program has seen success in Merritt.

Offered at ASK Wellness through a partnership with Interior Health (IH), the Daily Addictions Recovery Program (DARP) serves people from around the region, offering six subsidized rental units to its participants. The program is an abstinence-based, 12-week course that teaches participants how to maintain a healthy, drug free lifestyle.

Last year, 17 individuals participated in DARP, with about 60 per cent completing the program.

“Of those 17 we’ve had 10 successfully graduate, so we’re extremely pleased with those numbers,” said ASK Wellness employee Keri Cooke.

Cooke described the program as serving “a really even mix of people that are right from Merritt and our immediate surrounding areas and our region.”

After six months in the subsidized housing, ASK meets with both landlord and client to discuss if he or she is ready, willing and able to take on their own tenancy.

In 2017 there were four participants who decided to do this after the six-months, said Cooke.

“Some others have chosen to find different housing or return to home communities,” she said.

Six rental units are offered at all times, so when a person takes over the rent, ASK finds a new rental unit to offer to clients. DARP is also available to others who don’t require the housing component.

“I would say, unequivocally, we’ve met our goals in terms of the program development,” said IH regional manager of mental health and substance abuse, Philip Snyman.

He said the program is located in an ideal downtown location, making it accessible to clients and close to other services.

He described DARP as being a core component of the services IH wants to sustain in Merritt.

In addition to being referred to the program by a community agency, people can self-refer themselves to the program, DARP clinician with IH, Maria Walther told the Herald.

“It’s very, very uncomplicated,” said Walther, noting people can simply call ASK Wellness and inquire about the program.

In addition to DARP, the recovery skills weekly drop-in program has hit the one-year mark in Merritt as well.

Clients of this program — which has the same broad themes as DARP — learn skills such as how to say no, how to raise their self-esteem and how to manage stress.

Walther said clients have been known to use the drop-in program as a transition into or out of DARP.

“When they transition out of DARP and reintegrate into the community, they use it to help maintain their recovery,” said Walther.

Walther said the recovery skills program has served about the same amount of people DARP has in 2017.

Local detox centre would pair well with DARP

Providing a local detox centre would likely work well with the Daily Addictions Recovery Program at ASK Wellness, now entering its second year of operation in Merritt.

“Prior to their entry into our program, most clients actually go through detox, so what we’ve been observing is that the closer the detox [centre] the better,” said Interior Health DARP clinician Maria Walther.

Walther said it is a challenge arranging immediate entry into the program from detox centres, and being able to enter DARP immediately from these facilities would help ensure there’s no derailment in people’s treatment.

Members of Merritt’s city council has made it known they’d like to see a detox centre open up in town, most recently letting the provincial government know of their interest at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September.

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