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Port Hardy pilots regulated alcohol consumption site

Port Hardy is piloting an alcohol addiction program.

The Gwa’dzi Managed Alcohol Program (GMAP) supports the consumption of a regulated amount of alcohol.

The goal is to potentially eliminate symptoms from addiction and calls for emergency services

Port Hardy RCMP Corp. Chris Voller says to the best of his knowledge, the program is the first of its kind in Canada. 

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He says it demonstrates “our organization’s progressive partnerships and understanding trauma, as well as a proactive approach to certain types of crime.” 

“Alcoholism is recognized as a disease, and like treatment for cancer, alcoholism requires medical intervention. If it helps the client, assists our resourcing, and strengthens relationships with key stakeholders, it would be irresponsible not to assess and engage in such initiatives,” Voller said.

This program is a partnership between the local physicians and RCMP. 

Eligibility is not bound by race, and program clients must pay for a portion of the costs.

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In order for someone to enter and stay in the program, they must adhere to a number of alcohol use and behavioural guidelines, and must have discussed their addiction with a physician.

Dr. Sophia Waterman of Port Hardy will be the primary physician in charge of this program. 

Many local physicians are educated in the program, and will be able to determine the required dosages for their clients, based on unique circumstances and the chronic level of alcohol consumption they have sustained to that point.

The Port Hardy RCMP sees this becoming common practice as the program increases its client base, and notes the similarity to opioid addiction maintenance programs, commonly known as the Methadone program.

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“Currently there is no controlled consumption site in Port Hardy,” Voller said. 

Two GMAP employees will deliver the dosages to clients. 

Voller said it has been “made very clear” that any liquor located through illegal means (such as open liquor in public) may be destroyed. 

“We will absolutely support this program where able, but will not condone criminality,” he said.

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“Our intent is to proactively support individual clients and humanize them as people, while at the same time making strides in proactive and progressive means for dealing with factors that lead to criminality,” Voller continued. 

“Culturally competent policing is a necessity in meeting client and community needs, and what our organization continually strives toward.”

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