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New recovery support centre for addictions care set to open in Halifax

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A new outpatient recovery support centre is set to open Thursday in Halifax.

People with addictions, substance use, and gambling disorders will be able to receive care at the Fenwick Street site. It will be the eighth centre of its kind in Nova Scotia, and the first one in Halifax.

"Historically, probably only 10 per cent of people in Nova Scotia who actually have an addiction are really reaching out and getting help, so the intention is to make this a place that people will actually want to go," said Dr. Samuel Hickcox, an addictions medicine physician, who will be working at the centre.

Hickcox said the centre will start off with three core services: treatment matching, which is an in-depth assessment with a health care provider; withdrawal management; and early recovery supports, which will include group-based therapy and one-on-one support with a social worker.

"Nursing, as well, is key component, because some of the care we deliver here is day treatment. It's medical care. Because of that, we have prescribers, nurse practitioners, and physicians," said Dr. David Martell, with Nova Scotia Health's Mental Health and Addictions Program.

Martell also works at a similar centre in Lunenburg, N.S.

"When we first started exploring models like this in outpatient settings, one of the things that we realized was that the system that we had in place really didn't reach everyone," said Martell.

"Back 10 years ago in Lunenburg when the new model came into being that was more like this, and for which this model drew from, we noticed a huge spike in people actually accessing care."

The recovery centre is centrally located in the downtown area on Fenwick Street.

"There are a lot of folks who are living on the margin, maybe living in shelters, in encampments, unhoused, living in tents, often struggling with addiction," said Hickcox.

"For these folks to have a place that they can literally walk to is so important."

Those seeking help don't have to make an appointment to receive services -- they can drop into the centre from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with hours expected to expand as the clinical team grows.

"Care can be initiated no matter how people come to find out about us. It doesn't require a doctor's referral or other navigation through the health system," said Martell.

The province said staff will also help people develop recovery plans, learn to cope with cravings, and create relapse prevention plans. Patients will also have access to a kitchen, laundry room, and a living room with computers.

Recovery support centres are also open in Dartmouth, Lunenburg, Middleton, New Glasgow, Evanston, North Sydney, and Sydney. The goal is to eventually have 12 centres across the province.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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