Proposed B.C. legislation to detain youth who overdose could harm them: doctor

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“If the province had talked to some of these families and advocates, there could have been a lot more suggested, instead of unilateral changes,” Wilson said Wednesday.

“More alternative programs than just hospitalization are needed,” she said, adding long wait lists for programs and treatment leave youth without hope as drug use becomes entrenched and families end up in crisis.

“There aren’t enough programs, so it ends up being the only solution, to leave them in the psych ward, in an institutional setting,” Wilson said. “And of course, youth rebel because they don’t want to be in a hospital.”

The Mental Health and Addictions Ministry said in a statement the amendments were developed in consultation with various groups including the First Nations Health Council, the First Nations Health Authority and Métis Nation B.C. as well as pediatricians.

Minister Judy Darcy has said the proposed changes could help ensure the immediate safety of young people and provide them with support after they’re discharged.

However, Dr. Keith Ahamad, an addictions specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, said there aren’t enough treatment beds available for either youth or adults.

Ahamad was among the physicians and public health experts consulted about the proposed legislation but he said their concerns weren’t taken into consideration.

“Everyone was very surprised to see the proposed changes,” Ahamad said, adding youth fearing they could be detained in hospital will no longer trust doctors trying to treat them.

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