The P.E.I. government says a new program to help recovering addicts is seeing success.

Faye Kingdon

It is a hard journey for recovering addicts in the Addictions Centre transitions unit, says manager Faye Kingdon. (CBC)

The new residential unit, available for addicts after they finish detox, opened in April. Transitions unit manager Faye Kingdon said it represents a big change in how Islanders get help.

While recovering addicts are in the four-week program, councillors help them figure out just how they're going to stay clean when they walk back into their old lives. They try to figure out what triggers their addiction and who or what in their lives at home needs to change.

Twelve people have completed the program since it began in April. Four others dropped out.

"It's a hard journey," said Kingdon.

"Those that remain, those that have made it, have been very enthusiastic because they really have chosen to be here."

Addictions bed

The Addictions Centre transitions unit typically houses eight to 10 people. (CBC)

Kingdon said most of the patients are opioid addicts, and the relapse rate for them is high,

In the previous system, they'd be released after detox and have to wait for inpatient rehabilitation. That system was shut down with the opening of the transition unit.

Kingdon said this new system also better integrates addiction and mental health services.

"It used to be treat one, then treat the other," she said.

"We know now, across Canada, that we actually can't do that."

Some addiction activists and the official Opposition have criticized the program, saying four weeks isn't long enough to help people with addictions.

Kingdon said the program, combined with expanded support after release, is the best option available to stop those suffering from addiction from relapsing.