Starting next month, an addictions counsellor will be on duty at the Guelph Courthouse, the latest strategy officials are using to tackle the city's rampant crystal meth problem.
The counsellor, who will be employed by Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, will start working in bail court at the courthouse sometime in the next two weeks.
Guelph has been battling a soaring increase in crystal meth use over the past three years. The rate of meth seizures by city police rose by more than 1500 per cent between 2012 and 2014 and remains high in 2015.
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Stonehenge Therapeutic Community's clinical director, Kerry Manthenga, said the counsellor is important because sending meth addicts to jail doesn't break their habit.
"I would say more often than not, folks who've gone into prison with an addiction come out of prison with an addiction," Manthenga said. "This is really an opportunity to catch people at that really critical transition point, and say, 'This is where you are in your life right now. If you want support to walk a different path, we can link you to the services to help you do that.'"
Manthenga said that an addictions counsellor is so important to bail court because people often want to change their lives for the better once they arrive in court.
"I have not yet worked with anybody who woke up one morning and decided addiction was the right course for their life to take," said Manthenga. "The reality is that the folks that we work with in the addictions and mental health system have a number of other challenges in their lives that have made addiction, at least for a period of time, seem like a helpful thing to have in their life."
She says the counsellor's role will be to help these individuals figure out how to do change course by connecting them with the services they need.