For the first time in four years, Daniel Kimball will celebrate Christmas with his family. Since the former heroin addict hit rock bottom, living homeless and hopeless on the streets, turned his life around.
“I’ve overdosed more times than I can count because of the fentanyl that’s going around,” said Kimball, a patient at the Nanaimo John Howard Society’s Vancouver Island Therapeutic Community.
The 21-year-old from Edmonton said his very desperate mom urged him into detox, then rehab, and he started rehab three months ago.
“It definitely saved my life,” he said.
50-year-old Adam, who is also a patient at the John Howard Society’s treatment centre, said the program has saved him too.
“Without this place, I would honestly be drinking myself to death,” said Adam, a former construction worker and father of one.
Friday, the province announced that through cost efficiencies and converting private rehab beds into publicly funded ones, their original funding for 50 to 70 new beds in BC, has actually been able to open up 105 new treatment beds.
These include 15 new beds at the John Howard treatment facility in Nanaimo, and 5 at nearby Edgewood, where 5 previously privately funded beds have been made publicly funded.
“So you don’t need to be either on welfare or independently wealthy in order to have access to treatment,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions.
With the pandemic approaching the end of its second year, and natural disasters now further stressors on B.C. residents, officials expected those recovery and treatment beds to be needed more than ever.
“We’re in uncharted territory when it comes to the mental health of the population,” said Jonny Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division.
“It is a rising tide and any new resources we add are just getting swallowed up in a moment,” said Malcolmson.
For men like Kimball, each bed that is made available is helping a person like him.
“It’s a gift. I’m so excited,” said Kimball.
Now eight months sober he sees a future and a long life ahead that he said he never would have without treatment.