Need drug treatment? You should be able to ‘ask for help once and get support right away’: B.C. report

published on July 19, 2018 by Lori Culbert & Daphne Bramham in Vancouver Sun

Through all the harm-reduction and outreach services that kept Josh McDearmid alive during three grim years of drinking and using cocaine on Downtown Eastside streets, he says no one mentioned recovery to him — that there was the opportunity for him to get better.

“When I was out on the streets using my resources — going to shelters, food lineups, youth resource centres that see me messed up and intoxicated every day — not once did they mention recovery to me,” said the 24-year-old Cree man who grew up in B.C.’s foster care system. “I had accepted my death down there.”

But in December 2016, when McDearmid had “hit bottom” living in a tent city on Hastings Street, he got a Facebook message from a high school friend who was in recovery, suggesting the young man try it as well.

He has been clean ever since.

“People need to get told about recovery. It is an option out there. We just need to bring up the awareness,” said McDearmid, speaking Wednesday at the release of a new report by the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

The provincial health system has responded to the overdose epidemic with important harm-reduction measures, but it has failed to create sufficient long-term recovery services to truly curb drug addiction, says the document, entitled The Path Forward.

“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,” says the 44-page report by the centre, which develops and studies evidence-based approaches to substance use.

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