Calgary addiction treatment centres opt for more virtual meetings during COVID-19 pandemic

Fears over the spread of COVID-19 have prompted many Calgary addiction treatment providers to move away from in-person meetings with clients.

Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous in Calgary have moved almost entirely to online meetings, directing people to their websites for the latest information.

Alberta Health Services has also adapted its services, according to Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, the provincial medical director of addictions and mental health.

“We’re trying to do more virtual outreach,” Mitchell said.

“Where before people would come in person to meet with a therapist, they can meet with a therapist over the phone or through Skype meetings or other online forums.”

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AHS detox and in-patient treatment facilities are still open, although social distancing and screening has been ramped up, according to Mitchell.

He added that services are still being offered through community mental health clinics, and the AHS Addiction Helpline is always available.

For those without internet access, Mitchell pointed out they can still come in.

“If you’re in a place where you’re looking for support — you need support — reach out.”

Another Calgary addiction treatment provider, the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC), has temporarily converted to a residential treatment centre where clients will stay overnight.

In a statement, AARC board chair John Gordon said allowing clients to return to their families would present a serious risk.

“At AARC they are safe, but releasing them into the general public, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, could put these vulnerable youth and those around them in danger,” Gordon said.

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