Wait for detox treatment frustrates Abbotsford jail sergeant

Homeless alcoholic wanted help while in cells, but had to wait weeks to get into treatment facility

Alcoholics frequently end up in local jails instead of getting treatment.

The man was a regular in the Abbotsford Police Department’s jails.

A chronic alcoholic without a home, he had been in and out of cells for years for public intoxication.

Over four years, he had 400 separate interactions with police. Not all of those ended up with him in jail, but many did; in mid-November, he awoke once again from another drunken sleep in cells and prepared to head out onto the streets.

First, though, the man had a chat with Sgt. Colin Wiebe, the sergeant in charge of the APD jail.

 

 

He was tired, the man told Wiebe. He was ready to stop drinking.

But the breakthrough came with a catch. When Wiebe called local detox centres, he was told they wouldn’t take a referral from the police. First the man needed to see a doctor. He was able to get an appointment, but it would be 11 days until their meeting.

The man was addicted and had no supports yet, and so he still got drunk over the next week and a half. But 11 days later, when another police officer came to take him to his appointment, the man was ready.

“He maintained his desire to get clean, even while still getting drunk,” Wiebe said. “I was ecstatic that we got him to the appointment.”

From there, he received a referral to a rehab centre – and another wait.

 

 

The man had eight more days to change his mind, but earlier this week he checked into a rehab clinic.

The man’s story echoes service workers’ complaints that it takes too long for someone who has expressed a desire to kick their addiction to actually get help. In October, council heard that men and women addicted to drugs who want help frequently face weeks of delay before being able to access treatment help.

Wiebe says police jail cells can end up housing people who need actual help.

“If we had a medically supported sobering centre in town, that would be great.”

Such a facility would have health care professionals who are ready to provide immediate help and support for people who want to get clean immediately.

“A jail just isn’t the place to do that,” he said. “We become a place of last resort for a lot of people.”

That is frustrating, but while stats suggest that it takes many people multiple tries to get clean, Wiebe is optimistic about the chances for the man he helped recently.

“I sure hope this is the key to him,” he said. While just trying can be considered a small success, Wiebe said, “I’m hopeful we have a big success here.”

 

 

Just Posted

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in

PHOTOS: West Coast Christmas Show and Artisan Market at Tradex

Over the past 11 years the show has been attended by over 175,000 visitors

SARA for Women names new executive director

Jennifer Breakspear accepts position after two months as interim ED

The Debaters take on the holidays in live show

Hit CBC Radio show comes to Abbotsford Arts Centre on Nov. 22

Advocate for the homeless receives UFV’s Young Distinguished Alumni Award

Jesse Wegenast of Chilliwack recognized for extensive community work in Abbotsford

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

VIDEO: Giants toppled by visiting Hurricanes

Sunday afternoon play at Langley Events Centre saw a team from Lethbridge defeat Vancouver, 6-0

Security camera records hatchet attack on Langley store owner

Target escaped uninjured, but was ‘upset’ by incident

PHOTOS: Snoozing seal pup captures attention at White Rock Pier

Dozens of seals spent the day at White Rock’s iconic structure

VIDEO: Collision in Surrey breaks axle off SUV

Two people were reportedly sent to hospital

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Most Read