New report on strengthening addiction recovery in B.C.

published on July 18, 2018

A new report released today sets priorities for expanding and improving addiction recovery services in British Columbia, a long-standing need in the province.

Developed by the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) in consultation with people in recovery and with expertise in providing recovery care, the report highlights the stigma that persons in recovery often face, including the misperception that effective treatment and recovery are not realistic options, and recommends that recovery be better recognized and supported for all those who enter the system of addiction care.

“There has been a longstanding need to expand effective, evidence-based recovery services in B.C. – a need that has become even more urgent in the midst of an overdose crisis,” says Dr. Evan Wood, Director of the BCCSU. “Addiction care must be a continuum from harm reduction and acute treatment through to continuing care and recovery management models that include a range of services and supports such as integrated recovery programs.”

The report details the evidence demonstrating that those in recovery experience positive changes across multiple dimensions of their lives that continue to build over time, such as family relationships, health and wellness, legal issues, employment and education, and personal finances.

Research findings support that implementing and strengthening recovery services in B.C. can significantly reduce population harms, yield financial savings and, most importantly, improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities affected by addiction.

“The message to British Columbians must be: recovery is possible,” said Marshall Smith, Senior Adviser for Recovery Initiatives at BCCSU. “In British Columbia we have the knowledge, expertise, and will to build a recovery-oriented system of care. We need to support those with the lived experience in recovery – the experts – to inform what that system must look like to make recovery accessible and achievable.”

The report provides a blueprint for building an effective system to support individuals in and pursuing recovery from substance use disorder. In addition to highlighting 39 priority action items, the report outlines the creation of four working groups comprising health leaders and individuals with expertise in recovery to identify gaps and areas for improving recovery services in B.C. Those groups will focus on:

  • Health Systems, Education and Clinical Tools – to examine how to establish active and timely referral pathways between existing recovery and other addiction-related services
  • Underserved and Vulnerable Populations – to evaluate mechanisms of funding to support improved outcomes for First Nations, women, the LGBT community and youth
  • Awareness and Celebration – to increase social awareness and acceptance of people in recovery
  • Policy, Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement – to support policy development to ensure that people with substance use disorders are made aware of all care pathways available to them when they have access to quality and approved health care services.

While B.C. has long-suffered because of the lack of an effective system to support individuals in and pursuing recovery from substance use disorders, the report points to how successful and attainable recovery can be for those seeking it.

“I was addicted, hopeless and living in a tent on the streets of Vancouver,” says Josh McDiarmid, who has been in recovery from alcohol and cocaine use disorder. “I was going to die and I had accepted that. I went to pursue recovery and my life changed for the better. Stopping using was just the beginning. I needed to have a recovery-focused system that will help me maintain my health.”

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About the BC Centre on Substance Use
The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) is a provincially networked organization with a mandate to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction. As a research centre of Providence Health Care Research Institute and a University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine Centre, the BCCSU’s vision is to transform substance use policies and care in BC by translating research into education and evidence-based care guidance. By supporting the collaborative development of evidence-based policies, guidelines and standards, the BCCSU seeks to improve the integration of best practices and care across the continuum of substance use, thereby serving all British Columbians. The BCCSU seeks to achieve these goals through integrated activities of its three core functions: research and evaluation, education and training, and clinical care guidance.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Kevin Hollett, BC Centre on Substance Use
[email protected]