Accessing immediate treatment for an addiction isn’t always easy for those who are struggling. Oftentimes, when someone is ready to access help there can be a long wait for services and the momentum to get help is lost. The newly opened Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic at North York General Hospital (NYGH) seeks to close that gap by providing low-barrier, walk-in care for those looking to address their substance use. The Pulse spoke with NYGH Family Physician Dr. Caryn Green on her role at the clinic and her approach to treatment:
There is often public stigma and personal shame associated with substance abuse disorders that stops people from seeking help. Providing low-barrier access to addiction care based on a harm reduction philosophy is an essential service for people who struggle with their substance use.
- The new Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic at North York General offers quick access to quality care on a drop-in basis.
- RAAM clinics do not require an appointment and provide personalized treatment plans for problematic use of substances such as alcohol, opioids, or stimulants and for problematic behaviours such as gambling.
- The RAAM Clinic is the result of a partnership between and NYGH and clinics are also available at other hospitals in York Region, South Simcoe and Toronto.
“Using a patient-centred lens allows me to collaborate with my patients to try to meet their goals,” says Dr. Caryn Green, an NYGH family physician who serves at the RAAM Clinic. “I strive to provide a safe therapeutic space for my patients, and offer them evidence-based treatments appropriate to their goals and stage of recovery.”
When a patient first arrives at the RAAM Clinic, Dr. Green begins by gathering information about their history of substance use, including what they use, when they started, and how much and how frequently they use.
"This information helps formulate the diagnosis, investigations, and treatment plan that is unique to each patient,” she says. “The most essential portion of the visit is exploring my patient’s goals – whether they be to moderate their substance use, or to achieve abstinence. Once I know my patient’s wishes I am able to provide support and recommendations to mitigate risk, address withdrawal management, and create treatment plans personalized for each patient.”
“The RAAM team includes medical, nursing, and case management staff, and we provide access to counselling services, harm reduction advice, and medical treatments that can be lifesaving.”
If a patient is feeling nervous or anxious about visiting the RAAM clinic, Dr. Green reassures that the care provided is humanistic and seeks to dignify and honour each person and where they are in their journey with substance use. “I recognize that many people have faced trauma from the medical system due to their substance use and I strive to provide trauma-informed care for all,” says Dr. Green.
The RAAM Clinic at North York General is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. While no appointment is necessary, patients must bring their health card. Please take the elevators to the 8th floor to Ambulatory Mental Health.