Priscilla Popp, staff

Members of the community are in the process of discussing a new detox centre in Brantford.

This month, Brantford residents and corrections workers gathered at Laurier Brantford to discuss a rehabilitation centre that would address substance abuse.

The meeting provided a place for experts and residents to offer their knowledge and insight into an issue that has been probing the minds of many Brantford community members.

Brant MPP and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Dave Levac headed the meeting.

Dr. Chris Alksnis is the associate Professor of psychology at Laurier Brantford and discussed addressing the stigma that can be associated with addicts.

According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, forty-six percent of Canadians think that people use the term mental illness as an excuse for questionable behaviour.

As well, 1 in 5 people will have a mental illness and20 per cent of those diagnosed will also have a drug addiction problem.

She noted the positive impact that a detox centre could have for students who are interested in working in a correctional facility.

“Every community has a need for having resources and services available for people who have substance abuse issues” Alskanis said.

Marc Laferriere is a social worker and the federal candidate for the NDP for Brant in the 2011 federal election. He is also in support of the centre and attended the meeting.

“Many people in our community who do seek out detox centres have to go to London, maybe Hamilton if they’re lucky,” he said.

Last year, St. Leonard’s Community Services of Brantford treated over 1800 people alone.

The CAMH states that only one third of those who require mental health services in Canada actually receive them.

The most daunting part of substance abuse is that it can affect any human being, regardless of economic status, gender and age.

Laferriere said he believes the new centre could have a good impact on students, as it lets younger people know that this is an issue early on in life.

“I think a collaborative approach with students and community is the way to go with this” he said, although noting that research is also an important consideration.

The possible new centre would be of a substantial influence on the families of addicts, as it could provide relief for those who witness abuse firsthand and struggle in their own well being.

Sara Fortino is a first year concurrent education student at Laurier Brantford and says that having a detox centre in Brantford could be a step in turning addicts’ lives around.

“It’s always good to have at least some place that someone can go if they need help…” she said.

The rise in substance abuse over recent years has been met with countless reasons, ranging from genetics to the stress that the slump in the economy has caused.

However, it remains clear that many residents don’t feel the question is finding out why substance abuse is happening, but how we can fix the problem once and for all.

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