Manitoba investing more to increase capacity at rapid access addictions clinics

The RAAM clinics treat patients dealing with any and all substance-related addictions and are meant to help provide relief to emergency departments. (File image)

The Manitoba government will invest an additional $819,000 to add capacity to its two Rapid Access Addictions Medicine (RAAM) clinics in Winnipeg.

The RAAM clinics in Winnipeg are located in the Crisis Response Centre at 817 Bannatyne Ave. and River Point Centre at 146 Magnus Ave.

In a news release Monday, Dr. Erin Knight, medical co-lead for the RAAM program, said her staff has heard from patients and families that RAAM clinics overall are meeting an important need and improving care for Manitobans impacted by drugs and alcohol, a need that’s risen during the pandemic.

“The Winnipeg RAAM clinics have been most affected by the increased demand, making it more difficult for patients to access same day care. The funding announced today represents a critical response to the increase in need and will help us to better serve the people who are reaching out for help every day,” Knight said in a statement.

According to the news release, RAAM walk-in clinics provide adults who are looking for help with problematic substance use with immediate counselling and can prescribe appropriate addictions medication to reduce or stop their substance use. They also connect patients to community treatment programs and primary care providers in their communities for ongoing care.

Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon said more funding allows the clinics to meet the increased demand.

“This investment in the RAAM clinics will increase staffing and other supports, allowing the clinics to increase their capacity and make it easier for people to access their services,” said Gordon in a statement.

Health officials noted substance-related deaths in Manitoba have increased to 372 in 2020 from 191 in 2019, an increase of almost 95 per cent. The province said the totals are consistent with what is happening across Canada and the U.S. and appear to be caused by several factors including stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in using substances alone, and barriers to treatment.

There are currently six RAAM clinics in Manitoba; two are located in Winnipeg and one each is located in Brandon, Selkirk, Thompson, and Portage la Prairie. Information on addresses and hours for RAAM clinics can be found at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba website

If any Manitobans or someone they know are experiencing difficulties with mental health or addiction-related concerns, contact the Manitoba Addictions Helpline  or call toll-free 1-855-662-6605.