New Calgary addiction program to bridge psychology and substance abuse

She’s been battling her addiction to narcotics for the last three years but isn’t ready to seek treatment, fearing she’ll lose her kids.

A.M. — who requested to have her name withheld — is among many women in Calgary who are addicted to prescription drugs, but are too afraid to seek help and too busy for three-month group therapy sessions, according to Melissa Molloy, who’s with program development at the Recovery Acres Society’s 1835 house.

As a result, the clinic plans to roll out the Women’s Co-occuring Disorder Outpatient Program to treat women who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse.

The program will be the first of its kind in the city, where both psychology and substance abuse specialists will be readily available to patients, said Dr. John Streukens, who helped the society develop its two-week intensive treatment program.

The program will see women cycle in and out of a group of 15, where those who’ve been in the program longer can act as mentors to those entering it, Streukens said.

“I believe it will provide a needed service to women suffering from co-occurring issues who simply can’t exit life for 30-45 days,” he said. “It’s critical we do this.”

A.M. would be an ideal candidate for the program, but admits she isn’t willing to participate yet — she’s lost her trust in the system, after a councillor at a different recovery clinic told her she might lose her kids if they found out she was using drugs in front of them, she said.

“Nobody needs to tell an addict how terrible they’ve been.” she’s said, wiping a tear from her face. “Even though I’m not using drugs now, I look at my kids now and think every day what a sh—y mom I am.”

She said she won’t touch the drugs again — she doesn’t want to lose her kids and family.

“I think it’s by the grace of God I’m still alive with the amount of medication I was taking,” she said. “What good would I be to my kids now if I was dead?”

The program is expected to roll out by the end of this year.

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