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Sandy Bay's Treatment For Alcoholics

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1980      v10 n09&10 p15  
For the past four years, the community of Sandy Hay has been doing something about the -problem of alcohol abuse - operating their own Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre to help people to understand and cope with their drinking problem.

If you were a northerner with a drinking problem and were admitted to this locally operated centre, have you any idea what you would experience?

When walking through the door your first day at the centre, knowing you, are sick and in need of help, how would you feel? You are likely to be extremely apprehensive because you're not sure what to expect. You may feel sorry for yourself, a little lonely, and to top things, off, down-right scared. Still you won't give up because this opportunity may be your last hope.

You'll soon find that feelings such as these are seldom lasting ones. Later, after you have settled into your own room and have had time to think, you take another good look at your surroundings. You realize that things aren't quite as bad as they first seemed. The building may be a little old, but it has a friendly, kind of homey atmosphere about it. It is clean, well kept, and the lounge, with a television set and a radio offers you entertainment when you're not attending lectures. You realize that you really won't mind making the centre your home for the next 30 days.

Jack Bear, Director of Sandy Bay Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre
Jack Bear, Director of Sandy Bay Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre.
The doors are open for those who want to be helped.

Meeting the other residents is also less of an ordeal than you thought it would be. After all, you have a lot in common with them. Talking comes easily and discussing your problem always helps. Especially when there's a sympathetic ear around.

You might also be a bit worried about the treatment program. Well, before long you might just find yourself looking forward to the films during lecture periods or the guest speakers. It's always encouraging to know that people such as doctors and priests care enough to contribute to your treatment. And what about those Monday evening community meetings? The night you can speak your mind and let go of your feelings to everyone without being limited to any particular topic.

You realize now that the counsellors have only your well-being in mind when they emphasize the fact that you must learn and understand the three most important aspects of your treatment before you leave the centre - your assets, defects and the 12 steps of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

The counsellors: Without them you know you would never pull through. . They're around if you have a problem, need advice, or simply want to, talk. You always have their sympathy, their understanding and their help.

For many weeks you work hard and think hard. On the day before you are due to leave, the counsellors start evaluating your performance. You may be anxious to go but you start experiencing doubts. "Has the

Sandy Bay's Treatment For Alcoholics

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER 1980      v10 n09&10 p16  

 past 30 days helped? Am I ready to go back? - Did I really - learn anything?"

Don't fret. Doubts such as these are only natural. When that final` day really does arrive you suddenly realize that you actually did it. After - 30 days of hard work and the care and understanding of others, you are returning to the world a changed person.

If you were really admitted to the centre and received 30 days of this treatment, would it have helped you? Maybe not, but it has helped many northerners.

To date, the Sandy Bay Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre has treated over 435 people. The building, equipped to handle 15 patients at a time, provides facilities for both married and single residents. During their stay at the centre, each of these patients is required to follow a routine schedule of daily, chores and treatments.

The centre is not an AA establishment, but a major part of its treatment focuses on ideas and techniques used by the group. Even after the patients leave the centre, counsellors continue to encourage them to attend and become active participants in AA meetings and activities.

The centre is funded by the Department of Northern Saskatchewan and cost/shared with Canada under the terms of the Canada Assistance Plan. But, as director of the centre, Jack Bear has complete control over all of its activities. He is, however, responsible to a Board of Directors. Because the centre services other communities in the northeast besides Sandy Bay, the members of the board consist of one person from Southend, one from Pelican Narrows, one from Cumberland House, and four from Sandy Bay.

This board meets once a month to discuss problems ranging from financing to staff and patient attitudes. New ideas are suggested and old ones are discarded. And although many changes have been made throughout the four years of the centre's existence, its original purpose will never alter - to help people with drinking problems to understand and deal with the effects their illness has on themselves and others.