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Substance-use treatment services in B.C.

British Columbia has a range of substance-use and addictions treatment services available throughout the province. The pathway to recovery is different for everyone, as the risk and severity of addictions issues vary depending on the frequency, quantity and variability of substance use.

The first step begins with an assessment from a health-care professional. Following an assessment, patients are referred to treatment options depending on a variety of factors, such as their age, social connections (e.g., pregnant or parent of young children), health condition, substance of addiction and previous treatment history. Services range from less intensive treatment options accessed while living at home in the community, such as outpatient counselling and supportive recovery services to intensive residential treatment. Detox and residential treatment beds are two of many treatment options and may not be the most appropriate type of service for an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Patients may be referred to one or a combination of treatment options as part of their journey.

Government committed in 2013 to open 500 new addiction treatment beds by 2017. More than 300 new substance-use beds have already been opened in the past three years, and the remainder will be online by March 31, 2017. The 60 additional intensive residential treatment beds announced Jan. 18, 2017 will augment the bed supply even further. There are currently more than 1,300 substance use treatment beds across the province.

Types of Publicly Funded Substance Use Treatment in B.C.

  • Residential Treatment

Time-limited, live-in intensive treatment (typically 60-90 days) for individuals who are experiencing substance use problems. Treatment includes group and one-on-one counselling, medical consultations, as well as life skills training, family support programs and art therapy.

  • Supportive Recovery Residences

Low to moderate, time-limited supports and services in a safe, supportive environment for individuals experiencing substance-use problems. People may go into supportive recovery to prepare to enter residential treatment or as a transitional step after leaving intensive residential treatment because they require additional support to reintegrate in to the community or a longer-term structured environment, while preparing to transition into a more stable lifestyle. No treatment is provided in supportive recovery – that what distinguishes it from residential treatment.

  • Transitional Services

A temporary residential, substance-free setting to provide a safe, supportive environment for individuals who are experiencing substance-use problems and requiring short- to medium-term supports. Clinical services, such as primary care, medication management, as well as diabetes, Hepatitis C and HIV care, are available in supported housing or shelters to support individuals with the most complex health needs.

  • Withdrawal Management – Facility or Residential Based

    A short-term service (up to seven days) that provides clinical support to individuals withdrawing from substances. Withdrawal management takes place in different settings, including community, hospital (required for alcohol and barbiturates) and home (with clinical team support).

  • Opioid Substitution Therapy
    Also called opioid agonist therapy. Opioid substitution medication (such as Suboxone or methadone) is provided to individuals to manage their opioid use disorder. This therapy may be offered as part of residential or outpatient treatment programs.
  • Substance-Use Sobering and Assessment Beds

A short-term (less than 24 hours), safe place for people under the influence of substances. When possible, individuals are connected to other health-care services, such as detox, group therapy and one-on-one outpatient counselling.

  • Addictions outpatient services

    Counselling services provided on an outpatient basis.  These may include one-on-one or group counselling.

All of these treatment types are available for adults and youth.

Learn More:

Find region-specific information about substance use recovery services and treatment, visit your local health authority:

Interior Health Authority: Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority: Substance Use Services  

First Nations Health Authority: Substance Use Prevention and Treatment

Fraser Health Authority: Mental Health and Substance Use

Island Health Authority: Mental Health and Substance Use Services and Resources  

Northern Health Authority: Mental Health and Addictions

BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC): Toward the Heart and Harm Reduction

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