Recovery Services & Treatment Support

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

Help is available.

In B.C., there are a range of options to support individuals with an opioid use disorder that range from harm reduction services such as needle exchanges and overdose prevention sites to opioid substitution therapy and support services.

Often individuals who are seeking treatment and recovery from problematic substance use try a variety of supports to find what works best for them.

For some, making connections to harm reduction services, peer-support or outreach services may be the first step towards recovery. 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.

Scroll down for specific information on recovery and addiction treatment services in your area, or call 8-1-1 from anywhere in B.C. anytime of the day or night.  By calling 8-1-1, you can speak to a health services navigator, who can help you find health information and services; or connect you directly with a registered nurse.

What does recovery look like?

The pathway to recovery is different for everyone. Factors including socio-economic status, gender, age, ability, ethnicity and trauma can impact the risk and severity of problematic substance use and recovery. 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 who is experiencing problematic substance use that they want 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, such as their age, social connections (e.g., pregnant or parent of young children), health condition, substance of addiction and previous treatment history.
  • Services can range from less intensive treatment options accessed while living in the community, to more intensive treatment 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.  

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. By calling 8-1-1, you can speak to a health services navigator, who can help you find health information and services; or connect you directly with a registered nurse.

Treating opioid use disorders

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

Two common examples of medication used for opioid substitution therapies are methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (most commonly known by the brand name Suboxone).

Accessing safe medications that prevent withdrawal symptoms creates stability and greatly reduces the risk of overdose. Suboxone is recommended as a first line treatment and can be prescribed by a general practitioner.

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

What about detox?

Detox is often misunderstood by many as a solution to “dry out” or “get clean” but when it comes to treatment for opioid use, detox is not recommended.

Detox is one part of a process called withdrawal management. Research suggests that this process is not always a safe method of treatment for individuals struggling with opioid use as it can reduce an individual’s tolerance to an opiate and increase the risk of an overdose with relapse.

Withdrawal management alone, for any substance used, does not address psychological, social and behavioural problems and does not typically lead to lasting changes necessary for recovery. If used, withdrawal management should be accompanied by ongoing treatment, such as outpatient treatment services, opioid substitution therapy, or residential treatment.

Substance Use Treatment in B.C.:

Making the first step to recovery can be challenging, but help is available.  By calling 8-1-1, you can speak to a health services navigator, who can help you find health information and services; or connect you directly with a registered nurse.

Read below to learn more about the kinds of treatment and support services that are available to individuals who are experiencing an opioid use disorder here in B.C.

First Nations Treatment Centres:  In British Columbia there are currently 10 First Nations residential treatment centres. Click here to learn more.

Opioid Substitution Therapy: Also called opioid agonist therapy. Opioid substitution medication (such as Suboxone or methadone) is provided to an individual to manage their opioid use disorder. This therapy is prescribed by a physician, and may be offered as part of residential or outpatient treatment programs. Treatment works best when combined with other types of support, such as individual or group counselling.

Outpatient 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.

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.

Contact your local health authority

Health authorities have been working to expand access to opioid substitution therapy in response to the overdose public health emergency and have increased substance use supports, extended clinic hours and are educating physicians to support their knowledge of prescribing opioid substitution treatments.

Find region-specific information for substance use recovery services and treatment please 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

Additional Services:

HealthLink BC

Read more about substance use and how to be drug smart. Call 8-1-1 any day of the week,
24 hours a day, to speak to a health service navigator. A health service navigator can connect you to a nurse and help you find what find the right information for your situation.

Translation services are also available in more than 130 languages.

Alcohol and Drug Information & Referral Service

Individual, family, and small group counselling for people of all ages who are affected by alcohol and other drug use - call the 24-hour BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service:

  • Lower Mainland: 604-660-9382
  • Toll-free anywhere in British Columbia: 1-800-663-1441

BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services

An agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) - substance use and mental health services for children, adolescents and adults across the province

BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services

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.

Insite – Supervised Injection Site, Vancouver Coastal Health
Dr. Peter Centre

Support Groups and Social Support

LifeRing (alcohol and drug peer support programs across B.C.)
Narcotics Anonymous  (peer support group for narcotic addictions)

Here to Help

Information related to substance use and mental health, including personal stories, self-help resources and information about getting help now. Learn more

Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre

A provincial resource centre that provides substance use and mental health information, resources, and peer support to children, youth and their families from across B.C. Learn more