"Michael is among the 60 per cent of mental health emergencies St. Joe’s receives each year that involve substance abuse. Until they opened this unit — the first of its kind in Canada — mental illness and addiction were treated separately, and not all that successfully...
“It was a really big eye-opener for me,” she [Tammy Keddy, a psychiatric nurse] said, explaining that the traditional abstinence approach followed in psychiatric hospitals hasn’t been working. People would get kicked out of hospital if they used, and then they would relapse instead of getting better.
“Now we’re focused on the client’s goals, not ours,” she said. “We’re not the only unit with patients who use drugs, but we’re the only ones to face it head on.”
Treating both addiction and mental health at once might be the harder route, but by tackling the whole problem and not just half of it, the hospital has reduced relapses dramatically."