Dr. Annabel Mead is literally on the front-lines of treating addictions. Today, she’s working out of a temporary Medical Response Unit set-up on a vacant lot in the Downtown Eastside to treat drug overdose patients.
She knows that the best chance for success for her patients – who are ready – is to get them into a treatment recovery program without delay.
“Patients need options which range from harm reduction to pharmacotherapies, and from outpatient counselling to residential treatment,” says Dr. Mead. “Addiction is a complex and chronic issue, requiring a multiple level response, generally over a period of years.”
“People learn a lot during treatment but often, after treatment, they are left to their own devices. Unfortunately, relapse is the rule rather than the exception.”
“Suddenly there is a whole lot of time to fill, time that was once spent looking for, using, and recovering from drug use,” says Dr. Mead. “Intensive supports are needed to help individuals re-structure their daily activity that may include employment and healthier pastimes.”
As part of Streetohome’s Addiction Recovery Committee, Dr. Mead is among professionals from the housing, health, education, police, non-profit and private sectors looking at gaps in the system, and where the Foundation may be able to broker change.
“I’ve worked in a lot of areas in addictions – outreach in the DTES; providing treatment at detox centres; and in recovery settings such as the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction and Heartwood, so I’ve seen how the system works from many angles. We’ve learnt so much, but I know we can do better and I want to see people supported to maximize their potential for recovery.