Recovery Services & Treatment Support in B.C.

February 20, 2018. Article by: Government of B.C.

Just as each person’s life path is unique, a route that leads to problematic substance use is also unique. Similarly, how and why a person decides to seek recovery is influenced by a variety of factors. Offering support to people seeking treatment for a substance use disorder will help in their journey to healing.

Help is Available

In B.C., there are various options to support individuals with an opioid use disorder. These options include (but are not limited to):

Those who are seeking treatment and recovery usually try a variety of supports.  This helps individuals to find what works best for them.

For some, the first step towards recovery is connecting with harm reduction services, peer support, or outreach.

For others, treatments like opioid substitution therapy (also called opioid agonist therapy) can be the first step.

No matter which stage you or your loved ones may be in, recovery is a real possibility with the right supports and services that work for them.

For specific information on recovery and addiction treatment services in your area, call 8-1-1  from anywhere in B.C. anytime of the day or night.

8-1-1 is a free, 24/7 telephone resource that links you with a health services navigator who can help you find health information and services; or connect you directly with a registered nurse.

You can also search for services throughout the province using the Mental Health and Substance Use Service Map

What Does Recovery Look Like?

The pathway to recovery is different for everyone.  The risk and severity of problematic substance use and recovery factors include:

  • socio-economic status
  • gender
  • age
  • ability
  • ethnicity
  • trauma

Experiences of past and current trauma often have a significant impact in the lives of people with substance use disorders.

Taking the First Step

  • The first step often begins with a decision by the person struggling with problematic substance use, to get help
     
  • Once they’re ready, the next step is often followed by a conversation with a health care provider, outreach or harm reduction support worker
     
  • Following an assessment, patients are referred to treatment options depending on a variety of factors.  These could include their age, social connections (e.g., pregnant or parent of young children), health condition, substance of addiction and previous treatment history

Services can range for each individual. Services could be less intensive and community-based, or more intensive provided in a hospital.  Many services are available at low or no cost through informal networks, such as group counselling and peer support.  Other treatment options include opioid substitution therapy, individual counselling, supportive recovery services and intensive residential   treatment. 

Treating Opioid Use Disorders

Evidence supports opioid substitution therapy as one of the best first steps to opioid recovery.  This type of therapy uses long-acting prescribed opioid drugs (agonists).  These agonists substitute shorter-acting opioids and prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Two common therapy examples are methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone. These go by the brand name of Suboxone. Accessing safe medications that prevent withdrawal symptoms creates stability.  They also greatly reduce the risk of overdose. Suboxone is recommended as a first line treatment.  It can be prescribed by a general practitioner.

In B.C., healthcare providers follow “A Guideline for the Clinical Management of Opioid Use Disorder”.  This provincial clinical practice guideline is for all clinicians who wish to prescribe oral opioid agonist treatments.

Effective Feb. 1, 2017: PharmaCare in B.C. provides 100% coverage of opioid agonist therapies including methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone under its Psychiatric Medications Plan (Plan G).

B.C. Substance Use Treatment Services

Taking the first steps to recovery can be hard, but help is available.  Calling 8-1-1 is a good first step.  Use this service to speak with a health services navigator.  They help you find health information and services; or connect you with a registered nurse.

Treatment options are varied and complex, but connecting with the ones right for an individual will help them on their way to recovery.

Contact your local health authority to find out about the intake process for treatment in your region.

In B.C. the following support services are available:

  • Opioid Substitution Therapy (also called opioid agonist therapy)
     
  • Out-patient Treatment Services 
    • Substance use services and supports provided in an office or outpatient clinic setting
    • Services may include one-on-one or group counselling, connection to medical treatment such as opioid agonist therapy, and help with accessing other community supports such as housing and peer support groups
       
  • Residential Treatment
    • Time-limited, live-in intensive treatment (typically 60-90 days) for individuals experiencing substance-use problems
    • Treatment includes group and one-on-one counselling, medical consultations, as well as life skills training, family support programs and other support programs such as art yoga, music and narrative therapies    
             
  • Stabilization and Transitional Services
    •  A temporary residential setting that provides a safe environment with medical and clinical supports for individuals who are experiencing complex substance-use problems and unstable living conditions
       
  • Supportive Recovery Residences
    • Time-limited (1-3 months) residential setting that offers low to moderate supports in a safe and supportive environment for individuals experiencing substance-use problems
    • People may go into supportive recovery who are preparing for or leaving intensive residential treatment but require additional support to reintegrate into the community, or require a longer term structured environment while preparing to transition into a more stable lifestyle
       
  • 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)
    • Withdrawal management alone is not a recommended treatment for opioid use as it can reduce an individual’s tolerance and increase the risk of an overdose with relapse
    • If used, withdrawal management should be accompanied by ongoing addiction treatment, such as outpatient treatment services, residential treatment, and/or opioid agonist therapy
       
  • 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 opioid substitution therapy, withdrawal management, group therapy and one-on-one outpatient counselling

Regional Substance Use Services

Health authorities have been working to expand access to opioid substitution therapy.   This increased access is in direct response to the overdose public health emergency.   They have also increased substance use supports and extended clinic hours.   Work continues to educate physicians.  This work is helping to support increased knowledge about prescribing opioid substitution treatments.

Your local health authority has region-specific information about substance use recovery services:

Other Services & Resources:

  • HealthLink BC: Substance use and how to be drug smart
     

  • Alcohol and Drug Information & Referral Service for individual, family, and small group counselling – available 24 hours

    • Lower Mainland: 604-660-9382 
    • Toll-free: 1-800-663-1441 
       
  • BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC):
  • Supervised Consumption Services: Insite and the Dr. Peter Centre
    • Supervised consumption services are safe, health-focused places where people can use drugs under medical supervision and connect to health care and social services - from addiction counselling and treatment, to housing and community supports to general health care needs
       

  • Support Groups and Social Support

    • If you have a support network, you will not feel as alone. Social support can play an important role in recovery.

    • LifeRing (alcohol and drug peer support programs across B.C.)

    • Narcotics Anonymous  (peer support group for narcotic addictions)
       

  • Here to Help

  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre