Local police are looking at providing more support to vulnerable individuals.

The Kenora Detachment of the OPP have released their findings from a study into their Detox First program. Implemented in August of 2016, the Detox First program aims to reduce the number of intoxicated people being brought to detachment cells, and to provide various supports for those in need.

OPP Sergeant Jim Neild detailed why the OPP started the Detox First program, and detailed how it can help vulnerable individuals.

“We’re looking at the systemic issue in Kenora of intoxicated people. For a lot of years, we were taking them all to our detachment to house them for safety reasons. It was a perpetuating cycle, it was never ending. So we created a program in partnership with the Lake of the Woods District Hospital and the Morningstar Centre where we take intoxicated people there, and while they are there, they’re being offered supports. Treatment, therapy, the Managed Alcohol program, abstinence programs. So instead of trying to arrest our way out of this, which we’re never going to do, we’re trying to come up with a different solution where people can go to a different location and get the help they need,” he said.

Between 2012 and 2016, the OPP were averaging between 1,394 and 2,024 lockups for intoxicated people in detachment cells. In 2017, following the implementation of the Detox First program, that number fell to under 500.

Neild also noted that since 2015, there has been a $170,000 decrease in guarding hours, which lowers the cost of local policing.

The Managed Alcohol Program includes physician prescribed alcohol, specialized physician care, mental health and addictions counselling, nutrition and support from the Morningstar Centre staff. The program aims to help with reducing contact with police, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, overall health care costs and improve a participant’s quality of life. Patients enter the program voluntarily.

Northwestern Ontario has some of the highest rates of alcoholism in the province.

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For more information:
Kenora’s Managed Alcohol Program seeing success

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