There is an organization in Kelowna that has been in the business of offering hope for the last fifty years. It is called The Bridge, and it’s had a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands who have turned there for help in tough times.
The Bridge has helped youth and adults in detox from both drugs and alcohol. It offers long term care for recovery and healing. The Bridge provides prevention, intervention and treatment programs. It has brought hope to many people suffering from alcohol or drug misuse and it offers family services; children and youth services; parenting education and support, and caregiver support.
The overdose crisis and drug misuse continues to shatter lives month after month, and the headlines are terrifying and the outlook bleak. Families and friends of addicts are overwhelmed when they begin to understand the severity of addiction, and at the same time they have no idea where to turn. That’s where The Bridge comes in. While it cannot help absolutely everyone, they work exceedingly hard to touch the lives of as many people as possible. Like everyone on the front lines of the opioid crisis, people at The Bridge deal with the harsh realities every day, including a lack of facilities at some times. But they never give up and their greatest joy is to offer help to those who need it most.
Celine Thompson, Executive Director of The Bridge, says that in spite of the increasing challenges, there have been glimmers of hope.
“Recovery is not impossible. We see it every day,” she says. “Part of the renewal process is talking to people about that success.
The Bridge has been operating for 50 years now, and as Celine says, “it has become a touchstone for the most vulnerable families in the community.”
Fifty years ago, the focus was primarily on kids and family counselling, foster parent support, working with kids in care and marginalized young people. In response to the changing world, and especially in the last six years, recovery and addiction programs are now half of the work they do.
In a much-need attempt to provide people with a segue to talk about the issues, she points out that in the last year, 600 people went through their withdrawal management (detox) program.
Like any organization, The Bridge faces issues regarding the incredible volume of people who need their help. Usually there is a minimum two to three week wait for detox, although sometimes it is faster. Prospective clients go through an extensive triage program so they can deal with the highest risk individuals as soon as possible.
“It is crucial that when people are feeling a strong desire and commitment to change, we can respond to them at that moment of courage. When they are finished their program, we try to keep in contact every day,” Celine explains.
After detox comes treatment. Their 20-bed facility