Alcohol Strategy optimism

Tyler Clarke
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Community Mobilization Prince Albert is currently putting together a steering committee that is expected to release and act on a city alcohol strategy.

There’s an underlying optimism that the community will band together to address its collective alcohol problem

A particularly severe wave of crystal meth abuse ravaged Prince Albert about 10 years ago.

In response, Linda Nosbush was commissioned to draft an addictions strategy for the city -- a strategy whose recommendations were followed up on by a receptive community that tackled the issue head-on to great success.

In light of Community Mobilization Prince Albert’s Alcohol Strategy (whose steering committee is currently being formed), the city’s addictions strategy is worth another look.

What made it successful, and what lessons does it offer for the alcohol strategy?

Contacted on Friday, Nosbush clarified that the addictions strategy wasn’t drafted in a vacuum. It was borne from a community in crisis banding together under a common goal.

The Uniting to Heal community movement was one result of the addictions strategy, which focused, in part, on a wave of public education.

Out of these and sub-efforts, Prince Albert saw the construction of the Family Treatment Centre, the Brief and Social Detox centre and the Youth Treatment Centre.

The city’s crystal meth problem subsided in light of a greater public understanding and more services available for treatment.

A key to the effort’s success was the mobilization of various agencies, with people existing the silos of the police service, social services or whatever agency they represented, to come together under a common goal, Nosbush noted.

“We were stronger and better together and we needed to pull everybody in because everybody had a different set of skills to use,” Nosbush explained. “It was a set of dominoes that all had an effect on one another … All of your sectors have to be giving consistent messages and operate from a consistent framework.”

Community Mobilization Prince Albert is operating under a very similar model, wherein various agencies are working together under the same roof.

As such, Nosbush is hopeful they will find success with their alcohol strategy. Once it’s released to an engaged public, she hopes to see the community live up to the reputation she feels they’ve earned during her 27 years in the city.

“What I recognized is that here, we dig for an evidence base to determine what the issues are, how severe they are, and we don’t try to hide that,” she said.

“Then, we join hands and figure out how we can do something about that … It’s that capacity to take things on head-on that’s so powerful.”

But, she cautions that a key to the public’s tackling of crystal meth was de-normalizing its use, which was a relatively easy task.

Prince Albert boasts a strong culture of alcohol use that will be much more difficult to de-normalize.

@TylerClarkePA •

Organizations: Prince Albert, Family Treatment Centre, Youth Treatment Centre

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