New Brunswick

Campbellton's long-term rehab program often has empty beds, despite long wait list

Campbellton's long-term rehabilitation centre for New Brunswickers struggling with addiction and mental health issues often has trouble filling its 12 beds, even though there is a wait-list of about 90 people who need treatment.

Manager says better co-ordination, more beds needed to reduce wait for those struggling with addiction

Gino Mallais, head of Campbellton Addiction Services, said while more people are completing their residential rehabilitation programs at the centre, there is still a long wait-list and not enough beds in the province. (Submitted by Vitalite Health Network)

Campbellton's long-term rehabilitation centre for New Brunswickers struggling with addiction and mental health issues often has trouble filling its 12 beds, even though there is a current wait list of about 90 people who want treatment.

Gino Mallais, the manager of Campbellton Addiction Services, said the centre is typically at about 85 per cent capacity, which means two beds are often empty.

He said better co-ordination among detox programs, mental health and the Campbellton centre are needed because right now patients are showing up unprepared for the long-term program. 

"If they show up and they're intoxicated or they have mental health issues that are not stabilized, we need to admit them in psychiatry or in detox. Instead of starting right away, we need to stabilize them and then bring them to a bed." 

He said it's important people access those other necessary treatments and then transition directly into a space at the centre.

New individualized-approach proves successful

The program, which is known as the concurrent residential program, aims to treat people with both substance use and mental health problems.  

It was introduced in 2018 as a way to add longer treatment options in New Brunswick and to offer a more personalized program. 

It's the only program of its kind in the province, and one of only two residential rehabilitation centres. 

Stays at the centre used to last 21 days but now range from 30 to 90 days. Mallais said the average length of a stay is 57 days.

Since implementation, he said the completion rate of the Vitalité Health Authority program has increased by seven per cent. 

"It's not a huge difference but it's still a significant difference," Mallais said. "Now that the service is more of a individualized treatment plan…there is more of a buy-in and more retention of clients within the program." 

More beds needed

There are only 24 residential addiction treatment beds in the province, including 12 in Campbellton and 12 in Saint John. 

Debby Warren, executive director of Ensemble Moncton, said the improvements that have been made in Campbellton are great, but addictions services is still under-resourced.

Her organization, formerly known as AIDS Moncton, provides a needle exchange to more than 900 clients along with other harm-reduction programs.

She said wait lists for rehab programs need to be shorter, and help has to be there for people when they need it.

"People will say, 'Well they need to hit rock bottom.' But in our business sadly rock bottom means death."

Debby Warren, executive director of Ensemble, said she's seen over 900 unique visitors in 12 months and all of them are potential candidates for a program like the one in Campbellton. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Mallais agreed that filling the beds it has, and increasing capacity are important. But he said the stigma around addictions remains.

"We have to, as a society, change the way we see addiction and that's probably the most pressing issue out there right now."

He hopes to move the centre into a new space in late 2021 which would allow the addition of six more beds.

Warren said the wait list of 90 people for beds in Campbellton alone shows how urgent the need is 

"Even if we said 10 per cent of our clients [wanted treatment] — that's 90 people and the waiting list is already at 90."

She said her sister organizations in Saint John and Fredericton are also serving about 900 people every year. 

Mallais hopes to see an increase in long-term rehab beds and other addictions and mental health services across New Brunswick to help eliminate the long waiting period.


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