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Pilot project brings in-home detox to Fraser Valley's South Asian community

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Options Community Services is launching a new pilot project to help tackle B.C.’s toxic drug crisis and its impact on the South Asian community in the Fraser Valley, offering people an in-home detox and withdrawal program.

The social services organization was given $2.6 million dollars from the federal government to create the program for people who live in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Delta.

Neil Arao, the deputy executive director of Options Community Services says cultural barriers like language and even culturally appropriate food options can deter immigrants from seeking help in provincial programs. Stigma and shame are also factors.

"More so for the South Asian population, what our clients are telling us is that this is a very personal thing,” says Neil Arao the Deputy Executive Director of Options Community Services.

According to the organization, there has been a sharp increase in toxic deaths among South Asian men, many of whom lived at home with family.

"So many people they have a family, they are working, they have a good job but they are also struggling with this addiction,” says Harpal Johl with the non-profit. “People are using cocaine, heroin and other types of drugs.”

The program hopes to provide next-day service to clients, something that is virtually unheard of for in-patient detox programs in a province where wait-times can range from weeks to months.

"They'll be getting a daily visit from a nurse and our outreach worker every day for about a week for the detox process and then our counsellor or outreach worker will provide on going aftercare support,” says Arao.

They plan to help an average of four people a week, about 208 clients in their first year.

"The criteria for the home detox is that the person is willing and has 24/7 family support,” says Johl.

Both experts say the home approach is safe following studies done in the United Kingdom and Australia.

They will begin taking clients April 1.

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