Open letter to Yukon government on addictions

All your efforts to help Yukoners with addiction issues are of good intentions and worthy.

All your efforts to help Yukoners with addiction issues are of good intentions and worthy.

But you have a serious problem which must be overcome. If not, then all those degrees and offices and travelling counsellors are a big waste of time and money.

Many years ago, I was involved with the first alcohol treatment centre in the territory. It got started in an old house on Elliott Street, on the same piece of land where Yukon Office Supply now sells pens and invoice books.

Two middle-aged, sober alcoholics were running the show. For the record, their names were Bernie Mortimer and Bill Pratt, both deceased. If a drunk like myself woke up one morning, lying in blood and broken glass in a shack somewhere and decided, “Never again,” he had an alternative.

He or she could go to Crossroads and knock on the door. A gruff voice would answer and say, “What do you want?”

“Well, I want to quit drinking.”

“Good,” was the answer. “Come on in. We’ll show you your bed and you will attend your first session at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Besides your name, that was all the information that got passed around.

It worked for me and many more sober (and old) denizens of the North.

Then, bit by bit, the government took over Crossroads. Now it is an entire government department with a brand new building on Sixth Avenue in Whitehorse.

You go there and tell them you are motivated, right now, this day, to get sober and clean.

“Well, first we have to do an assessment. Your first appointment is in three weeks. If you successfully complete a series of interviews, then you might be eligible for treatment. Then we have to complete an intake assessment. Why, by this time next year or the year after, you might even be addiction-free or, your episodes might be reduced so that less harm is done to you and society. Then all we have to concentrate on are your relapse syndrome tendencies.”

So you go away feeling hopeless and sit on a bench waiting for a friend to come along with the entrance fee. That means enough money to go into a bar and order one drink. The hope is that someone you know will be on a toot and will buy rounds for the table until closing time.

All thoughts of sobriety are gone, often for good.

In other words, bureaucratic red tape has wrapped itself around another good cause. And people are dying because that is so.

Sam Holloway

Ross River

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read