Hamilton’s substance addictions programs receive over $1.8-million investment

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Published September 11, 2023 at 1:04 pm

mentalhealth

Three Hamilton programs to help people with substance addictions or those at risk of developing them are getting more than $1.8 million in federal funding.

“It’s brave work and it is front-line work filled with compassion,” said Ya’ara Saks, the federal minister of mental health and addictions and associate minister of health, during a press conference at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s West 5th Campus today (Sept. 11). 

She said the funding supports an “evidence-based” and “patient-centred” approach to Hamilton’s addictions crisis. The City declared a state of emergency over homelessnessopioid addiction and mental health issues in April.  “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every person has unique needs. We need to be there for them and have all the tools available focused on prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement,” Saks said. “When we break down the stigma and bring light to those who must be seen and must be helped … we all win. When people have the right support, there’s hope.”

Chelsey Fedchenko, clinician and peer specialist in the Young Adult Substance Use Program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, said investments in innovative, quality treatments are necessary.

Calling the investments “significant,” she said “I stand here today as proof recovery is possible … successful treatments can break the cycle (of addiction).”

Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program will fund the three projects. The funding was granted through the federal 2022 budget.

For the funding, $287,551 over 24 months will expand the City of Hamilton’s outreach staff and services for individuals who use drugs and are experiencing problems related to homelessness. In addition, $1,235,383 over 25 months will allow St. Joseph’s Healthcare to develop measurement-based care for patients with substance use disorders that aims to optimize diagnosis and therapies. Also, the AIDS Network will get $311,382 to provide drug users an alternative to the toxic illegal drug supply with pharmaceutical-grade medication along with wraparound supports such as employment opportunities and access to harm reduction programs. A trained peer support team will be formed to help people achieve health and stability.

The funding “is enormously important and will have a major impact” on the diagnosis, prognosis and support for those struggling with addictions to substances such as opioids, alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, said Dr. James MacKillop, director of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University, during the press conference. The investment will expand and prioritize novel and high-quality, measurement-based care and treatments to more than a thousand patients with substance use disorders, he added.

“It’s more important than ever that we invest in solutions rooted in prevention, harm reduction and treatment, this is how we’re going to save lives,” said Lisa Hepfner, member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain, in a statement.

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