originally from http://www.vernonmorningstar.com/
CONCEPT DRAWS MLA's INTEREST
A Vancouver MLA brought a message of hope to Vernon on Tuesday as he proposed a solution to drug addiction, homelessness and mental illness.
Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt said it is time to crack down on B.C.'s drug addiction problem by incorporating the long-term solutions of an Italian treatment community.
Mayencourt travelled to central Italy over a year ago to visit San Patrignano, a unique community that incorporates a holistic approach to drug addiction and provides a supportive environment where addicts can live and completely overcome their vices.
"In B.C. we have 1,000 recovery spaces for addicts where they receive a week of detox and 28 days in treatment," said Mayencourt.
"Then they are put right back in the harmful environment they came from and within the first 30 days, 85 per cent of them fail and we wonder why."
Mayencourt strongly believes that a treatment community like San Patrignano will be more effective in dealing with the addiction issues than previous B.C. government initiatives.
He is in the preliminary steps of creating a privately-funded treatment centre 30 kilometres southwest of Prince George. Baldy Hughes, a former radar station, is equipped with a dormitory, mobile home pads, a service station, welding and woodworking shops, a bowling alley, curling rink and gymnasium, a sewage treatment plant, roads and a fire department.
"This is the best place in the world for me to start something like this," said Mayencourt. "This is something we can be doing to get better outcomes for people, while allowing them to reach their potentials and make this province a better place.
"I am going to work my heart out."
He is currently drafting a business plan for the site and hopes that it will be operational in 2008.
"I don't see this as a daunting task," said Mayencourt.
"I know what can be done when people are passionate about something and I have been getting an incredibly warm response to this."
Gord Molendyk of the Vernon Safe Communities Unit of the RCMP was intrigued by the idea of a secure living environment where the individual builds relationships and skills.
"It is a very interesting concept," said Molendyk. "The guests are working there and running it and that gives them something that is their own. It is a huge part of the healing and growing process."
Fran Jasiure works for the Women's Dew Program, an addiction treatment program in conjunction with the Family Services of Greater Vancouver. She said that the idea of long-term programs is refreshing.
"We can appreciate the idea of helping people for more than a month because we see the results of short-term and we know it doesn't work." she said.
"This community approach seems much more effective."
San Patrignano has been operating in Italy for 30 years and has assisted more than 10,000 people. The centre is currently helping more than 2,200 guests on three campuses. According to Mayencourt, the treatment centre has a 75 per cent success rate.
Fifty guests are admitted every month on a voluntary basis and are welcome to stay for three to five years.
The individuals receive treatment and are then placed into a community environment where they are trained and given a job in various fields.
"It is beautiful to see them working in a setting to bring their life back to normalcy," said Mayencourt.
"They make everything from wall paper, to gift baskets, wine and even racing bicycles. It's how they know they are worth something."
The community is completely self-sufficient with a school, hospital, day care, housing, farms and factories. The products created at the centre are sold in high-end retail stores around the country and all proceeds are put back into the community.
Mayencourt is confident that this initiative can succeed in reducing the number of addicts and homelessness people in B.C. where government programs have failed in the past.
"It is time to try something new to address the problem. Let's get out of the box and take a chance and deliver hope to people," said Mayencourt.
"We need to prove to the government what this kind of program can do for the province and everyone in it."[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica][/FONT]