Yukon News

Open letter to Yukon government on addictions

Friday December 23, 2016

All your efforts to help Yukoners with addiction issues are of good intentions and worthy.

But you have a serious problem which must be overcome. If not, then all those degrees and offices and travelling counsellors are a big waste of time and money.

Many years ago, I was involved with the first alcohol treatment centre in the territory. It got started in an old house on Elliott Street, on the same piece of land where Yukon Office Supply now sells pens and invoice books.

Two middle-aged, sober alcoholics were running the show. For the record, their names were Bernie Mortimer and Bill Pratt, both deceased. If a drunk like myself woke up one morning, lying in blood and broken glass in a shack somewhere and decided, “Never again,” he had an alternative.

He or she could go to Crossroads and knock on the door. A gruff voice would answer and say, “What do you want?”

“Well, I want to quit drinking.”

“Good,” was the answer. “Come on in. We’ll show you your bed and you will attend your first session at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Besides your name, that was all the information that got passed around.

It worked for me and many more sober (and old) denizens of the North.

Then, bit by bit, the government took over Crossroads. Now it is an entire government department with a brand new building on Sixth Avenue in Whitehorse.

You go there and tell them you are motivated, right now, this day, to get sober and clean.

“Well, first we have to do an assessment. Your first appointment is in three weeks. If you successfully complete a series of interviews, then you might be eligible for treatment. Then we have to complete an intake assessment. Why, by this time next year or the year after, you might even be addiction-free or, your episodes might be reduced so that less harm is done to you and society. Then all we have to concentrate on are your relapse syndrome tendencies.”

So you go away feeling hopeless and sit on a bench waiting for a friend to come along with the entrance fee. That means enough money to go into a bar and order one drink. The hope is that someone you know will be on a toot and will buy rounds for the table until closing time.

All thoughts of sobriety are gone, often for good.

In other words, bureaucratic red tape has wrapped itself around another good cause. And people are dying because that is so.

Sam Holloway

Ross River


Dean wrote:
9:03am Sunday January 8, 2017

Alan, I think you missed the point.
Government loves to take over really good programs run on a shoe string and turn it into a full blown bureaucracy. If they had given a small portion to the people that run the programs rather than a lot to themselves, we the people would get much better results at a lot less cost.

Alan wrote:
1:36pm Tuesday January 3, 2017

C&C, if you think I’m judging you, you’re right. If the shoe fits…get sober.

Champagne and Caviar wrote:
4:07pm Sunday January 1, 2017


You sound like you are an expert in Addictions or is it you just flapping your mouth again by passing judgement on others.

ProScience Greenie wrote:
10:52am Friday December 30, 2016

As usual Sam Holloway hits the nail on the head. Of course the feckless but well paid bureaucrats and mandarins in the department he is talking about won’t get it. The saddest part is that the alcohol sin tax feeds this bloated bureaucracy but does very little at all to provide real help for people with struggling with addiction as Sam points out. Expect the same misuse and waste of tax dollars with the carbon sin tax and weed sin tax if that mostly harmless substance ever gets legalized as promised.

Lost in the Yukon wrote:
7:02pm Thursday December 29, 2016

Dear Sam: you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. ADS is run bya Manager with no background in addictions and who never leaves their office and overseen by a Director of Social Services who has no hands on experience in social services. It’s all about creating the illusion of work to just an extremely well paid position. One can only hope that the new Minister can see through all the BS.

Alan wrote:
1:32pm Thursday December 29, 2016

Sam, what a load of BS. Whose fault is it that someone is an alcoholic? The government? The schools?  The parents? Dirty toilet seats?
No, it is the individual that drinks and everyday they make a choice. Don’t give me the crap about this is a disease and only trained therapists can treat it.
Alcoholism is a behaviour you started and you, yes you, can stop. Sure it’s not easy, you may fail once or twice, but thousands in the Yukon have succeeded and that hopeless drunk you see as a government victim can succeed despite the odds.

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