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February 26 2013

More treatment services needed in Watson Lake

WATSON LAKE Chris wavers on his feet as he steps through the doorway of the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen in Watson Lake. It’s just after 11 a.m. and Chris is drunk. But that isn’t unusual, especially at the soup kitchen.

Quietly he takes a seat at the table while a volunteer reads him the “riot act.” Intoxicated patrons are allowed to stay, so long as they behave themselves.

Chris grew up in Watson Lake, but has no idea who his parents are. “I grew up alone. I wish I had a mom, for real, you know? And a dad,” he says as he ladles another shaky spoonful of soup into his mouth. “I don’t judge anyone. They’re all beautiful in this world. You can judge me if you want, I don’t care,” Chris says.

Chris and his friend Teddy are regulars at the soup kitchen. After their meal they will leave, but where they go is unclear. Fred Statham, who runs the soup kitchen, worries about guys like Chris and Teddy. Chris is a hardcore alcoholic, but the chances of him getting the treatment he needs are slim.

“It’s an epidemic,” Statham says. The missing link, says Statham, is support for people who are trying to get clean. Too often addicts go away for detox and treatment, either in Whitehorse or Outside, but they return to the same environment that gave rise to their addiction in the first place. Statham isn’t alone in his call for after-care.

While politicians sometimes don’t agree on much, the one thing everyone in Watson Lake agrees on is that more services are needed to help address the addictions problems.

Read the full article by Jesse Winter on the Yukon News website.