Make companies pay for alcohol treatment’
Liquor companies should pitch in to help fund addiction treatment, according to the head of the substance abuse intervention agency Focus Counselling Services.
Leslie Grant, the executive director, made the call as he highlighted the need for extra resources in Bermuda’s recovery community. Mr Grant, who took the reins from Sandy Butterfield as executive director of the charity in April, said the service would host an open house today, to raise much needed funds.
Alcoholism ranks as one of the island’s top forms of substance abuse, the internationally certified alcohol and drug counsellor and clinical supervisor said. Mr Grant called for the companies turning the biggest profits on alcohol to step up to a positive role.
He told The Royal Gazette: “I am not saying that the alcohol stores and companies are the cause. They do provide the substance, but they don’t make people drink it. However, many of them do make a lot of money and in some countries, the alcohol companies put quite a lot of money towards treatment. I can’t say that they do that here.
“Alcohol is one of the most prevalent substances; it is not the only substance, but these companies could support the community, by sharing some of those profits to support the recovery community. It could help Focus and a lot of other charities and facilities; they could make a big difference.”
Mr Grant added that he would like to see a specific fund to support treatment for all forms of substance abuse. He said: “There are different entities that raise funds, but I am talking about being able to provide resources and treatment overseas for persons who can’t get the kind of treatment they need here in Bermuda.
“Pathways Bermuda does assist, but they do the best that they can. There are people who could benefit, not only from a different environment, but a different treatment modality, and for a longer period of time — a mid to long-term facility that is offered that is in another country. There is no funding for that.”
Focus provides supportive residency or sober living programmes, drop-in centre and individual and group counselling services for its clients, but Mr Grant says it would like to extend the level of support it offers under his leadership.
The charity’s open house today runs from 10am to 3pm at 36 Union Street in Hamilton for networking with partners and to “reintroduce itself and its services” to the community.
Dignitaries attending will include Alison Crocket, the Deputy Governor. Mr Grant encouraged potential donors to attend to hear the charity’s latest plans.
He explained: “We are having our open house to show the public that we are open for business and that we offer more than a place of refuge.”
Mr Grant said he hoped to counter perceptions that “guys just come up here to hang out and sleep”.
He added: “The drop-in centre does offer a safe space; they do need that, but we want to take it to the next level and provide more opportunities for them. We want to implement new programmes and structures to encourage recovery.
“We have already started; we have psychoeducational services, information about substance abuse disorder, the effects on the person, body and community, and we are looking to structure that.”
Focus is launching additional services catering specifically to women, he said. The majority will be referrals, but the service also aims to offer “some individual counselling as well”.
“We want to be providing services on a consistent basis to support a healthier community,” he said. Mr Grant has served as senior counsellor at The Right Living House, an in-prison residential treatment programme.
He also worked at the Turning Point substance abuse programme as an addiction counsellor for six years, as well as a consultant counsellor for Pathways Bermuda.
Mr Grant said the top challenge for Focus was its resources.
He added: “We do not have a full-time counsellor, and I have other responsibilities, now including oversight of clinical services, operational management, fundraising and building on existing programmes.
“We can provide outpatient treatment and individual and group counselling, but not on a consistent basis, as we are without a full-time counsellor. I have some, very little, time to counsel — that is not ideal, but we have to make it happen. We have a lot of lives to save.”
• Focus is looking for volunteers for its tag day on September 28 who can spare two or three hours at numerous locations around the island. For details, e-mail Mr Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 296-2196
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