Recovery in small town B.C.: addiction centre to open in Penticton
An initial plan faced pushback from neighbours, but the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre will now open on March 1
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Nearly two years to the day after 21-year-old Brandon Jansen died of an overdose in his room at a Powell River rehab centre, a new recovery centre will open bearing his name.
The opening of the first Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre, slated for March 1 in Penticton, B.C. marks a signpost in a long road for his family and their efforts to honour his memory.
“This is long overdue,” said his mother Michelle at a grand opening at the head office of the foundation which also carries her son’s name.
Since Brandon’s death, Michelle and her youngest son Nick have become outspoken critics of the provincial government’s response to the on-going opioid crisis.
Unsatisfied with the level of care available at most existing treatment centres, she set out to create her own.
The foundation had planned to open the Penticton location in December, but were stymied when neighbours banded together and purchased the building out from under them, Michelle said.
“They did not want a recovery centre opening in their community,” Michelle said. “What that did was tell us that stigma was alive and well, even in light of the thousands of people who are dying of opioid addiction,” she said.
The chess move at first appeared to have worked, but after the story gained media attention Michelle said she was inundated with offers of support and expressions of outrage over the neighbours’ behaviour. Some in the community even offered their own homes as a location for a recovery centre, she said.
Once the Penticton centre is up and running, Michelle said the foundation will turn its attention to launching a recovery home in Osoyoos, and another in Vernon shortly thereafter. Ultimately, the goal is to create a series of Brandon Jansen Memorial centres across the country and even down into the U.S., Michelle said.
To access their services, clients will have to apply and be selected for treatment based on a number of factors including their life circumstances and their perceived desire to get clean, Michelle said.
Each recovery centre will be limited to only six clients at one time, with three full-time staff, Michelle said. When Brandon Jansen centres lack the capacity to take more admissions, potential clients will be referred to other reputable recovery centres, she said.
Clients will also have to pay for the services, an expensive proposition given the level of care the centres hope to provide. Michelle said the foundation that runs them, which is a registered charity, will use donations to help offset those costs for “those less fortunate.”
What makes the Brandon Jansen centres different from the many other rehab centres in B.C. is the lived experience of the people at the helm, Michelle said.
“Brandon went to 12 privately funded centres in less than 2 years. I have learned what works. I have learned what doesn’t,” she said.
The centres will offer alternatives to standard drug treatment programs, tailoring wrap-around supports to the needs of individual clients, Michelle said.
“A lot of treatment centres out there do not allow clients to come in who are on methadone or Suboxone. Those are life-saving medicines with respect to this opioid crisis,” she said.
“We are also not going to be punitive in nature. Relapse is very much a big part of recovery. If and when there is a relapse we will focus our supports even heavier on getting that individual through that hurdle and bring them back,” Michelle said.
After clients complete their treatment at the centres, they will have access to vocational training, support finding a job, and be connected with a therapist for on-going weekly follow-up support to help them stay clean, Michelle said.
Brandon’s brother Nick knows exactly how important that is. Along with having a front-row seat to his brother’s struggle with addiction, Nick had to overcome his own.
“I’ve been through many different treatment centres. I also saw first-hand what the clients want, what the clients need, what worked and what didn’t for some people,” Nick said.
“There is no one-size-fits all. You really can’t have one addiction model for every single person who comes in,” he said.
For him, the biggest stumbling block was too heavy a focus on attending narcotics anonymous meetings as though that was the only answer.
“I tried my best. I went to as many meetings as I could,” he said. “For me, it was going back into my hobbies, what I used to do before my addiction, how to place more focus on good relationships in my life” that got him clean, Nick said.