New virtual treatment spaces for addictions are coming to the province, focused on accessibility for remote communities and individuals with busy lives.  

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Everett Hindley announced last week that 36 outpatient treatment spaces through EHN Canada will begin coming online later this spring.  

“What's unique about this is that it helps us to be able to provide supports to people as part of our goal of meeting people where they're at," Hindley said. "For those that might be in rural or remote locations or, for example, individuals who might need treatment for mild to moderate addictions, but they have a number of other things that need to balance in their lives; they might have families to take care of, jobs and careers they need to maintain, so taking an intensive treatment session where they have to pick up move might not be an option for them, therefore they don't really get the help that they need. So, offering these virtual spaces allows for some flexibility that way."

The program is designed as eight weeks of intensive virtual treatment, followed by ten months of aftercare.

It doesn't just focus on the individual with addictions, though; the treatment includes access to education and support for the families, support persons and loved ones of the participants. 

Hindley attributed this to consultations done by the Saskatchewan Drug Task Force a couple of years ago, in which they travelled the province and spoke with residents who have successfully recovered; one of the most voiced concerns was a need for treatments to accommodate family and loved ones.

"Addiction is just--it's so devastating, it impacts people in so many different ways," Hindley said. "It's not just that individual, it's the family around them, their friends, their loved ones, the community. So, I think that's what's really interesting about this virtual option; the fact that it encompasses allowing the support network around that individual to also be part of their journey to recovery."

There are a number of ways to access the new spaces; a referral from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), a community organization, a family physician or social worker, or to simply contact EHN directly for a screening process.  

Regardless of where a person resides in the province, they will be able to access a virtual treatment centre for mild to moderate addictions. 

“This doesn't work for everybody," he said. "You're going to have some people that need much more intensive treatment, but the thought process behind this is, we're really trying to focus not just on treatment but also prevention and intervention. If we're able to provide this sort of treatment for people that have mild to moderate substance use challenges, if we're able to address those sorts of challenges and help those people before they become really severe where they need that intensive inpatient treatment, I think that's really a bonus."