B.C.’s addictions strategy should focus more on recovery: report

published on July 18, 2018 by Kendra Mangione in CTV News

A report on best practices for recovery from addiction suggests British Columbia should shift its focus from the current harm reduction strategy.

The BC Centre on Substance Use outlined the path to a recovery-oriented system of care that it says is urgently needed.

“British Columbia has long suffered because of the lack of an effective system to support individuals in and pursuing recovery from substance use disorders,” the report published Wednesday says.

The province has been focused on addressing the outcomes of untreated addiction and reducing the spread of disease through programs such as supervised injection centres and distribution of naloxone kits. The report praised these efforts as essential and life-saving, but says the emphasis on effective recovery treatment has been lacking.

The BCCSU said those who work for agencies that provide long-term treatment programs, many of whom have participated in recovery programs themselves, have felt marginalized as a result. The marginalization is also felt by those participating in recovery programs.

“Because of stigma and other concerns, individuals with addiction are often devalued and written off by society as being ‘beyond help.’ This is costly, unethical and wrong,” the report says.

“Research has clearly demonstrated that long-term recovery from substance use disorders and other addictions is not only possible, but is an attainable and sustainable reality for many individuals, regardless of the severity and duration of their addiction.”

Now that the province has a dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, the BCCSU is hopeful the minister will address what it calls a longstanding need for expanded recovery services.

“It’s safe to say that our system for drug treatment and for recovery and for harm reduction has serious gaps and cracks in it,” Minister Judy Darcy said following the release of the report.

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