New substance use teams will keep people connected to services, treatment

People who use substances in B.C. will have greater access to ongoing support and health care services with seven new and nine expanded substance use teams to help people stay connected to health care services and treatment.

“We know that most people who overdose have had contact with health services in the months prior to their death,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These new teams will help ensure that when someone reaches out for help, they are not left to fend for themselves or sent back out into the community without support. Health professionals will walk alongside them to ensure they are connected to the resources they need when and where they need them.”

The new and expanded teams help ensure that people who use substances and access the health care system can stay connected to a range of care options tailored to their needs. They also provide services to prevent overdoses and connect people to ongoing treatment as they work toward wellness and recovery.

The services are tailored to the needs in each community and are comprised of a range of professionals working together, including nurses, counsellors, social workers and peers to provide individualized, person-centred care, such as:

  • outreach workers that bring services to people and help them get connected to services;
  • a mix of clinical services and social supports including access to prescribers for safe prescription alternatives to the toxic drug supply;
  • support for people during transitions to ensure continuity of care;
  • in-reach services to provide even more support for people with substance use challenges residing in supportive housing, as well as hotels or emergency response centres during COVID-19; and
  • connections to primary care.

The initiative will support adult clients as well as youth and young adults for whom adult services are more appropriate. Depending on the team, people may be connected through self-referral or referral from health care service providers.

The initiative will provide $4.27 million in annual funding, for 2020-21, to regional health authorities across the province for new and enhanced team-based substance use care.

Developing seamless and integrated substance use care and escalating the response to the overdose crisis are key pillars of government’s actions outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people in B.C. Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • A 2018 Coroners’ report that looked at 872 overdose deaths in 2016 and 2017 found that four out of every five people who died were reported to have had contact with health services in the year before their death.
  • The new integrated teams and resources will work to address gaps in areas of the province where existing substance use services are not meeting needs.
  • They will also include a focus on supporting groups who are experiencing high rates of harm related to substance use.

Learn More:

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ Pathway to Hope: