Navigating the System

Your likely first response to your child or loved one’s substance use will be to seek out treatment options. Before doing so, it is important to understand what constitutes treatment, and which treatments are available and best-suited for which substance use disorders.

Unfortunately, the treatment system in BC has significant gaps and inconsistencies. Although considerable effort is going into improving the system, finding appropriate treatment may require persistence and advocacy to find the right program or care provider for your child or loved one.

Many parents and other loved ones have found their own voices to be a strong tool to get their child or loved one the help that they need. Be prepared to learn how the system works and to advocate for your child or loved one.

I'm Ola's Mom

Deb Bailey is Ola's mom. She shares their story about the challenges of navigating the system of care - for young people and for parents.

Treatment & Recovery

No matter how worried you are or how negative the consequences you’re seeing from your child or loved one’s alcohol or other drug use, you can’t force your loved one to change or access treatment if they aren’t ready.

Recognizing where your loved one is at and how they feel about their substance use may help you to have realistic expectations and better support them. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘stages of change’ or the transtheoretical model.

  • Your child or loved one may not see any problem with their substance use and has no intention to change their behaviour (pre-contemplation).
  • Your child or loved one has recognized that there is a problem with their substance use but has mixed feelings about stopping or reducing their use and hasn’t decided to make any changes (contemplation).
  • Your child or loved one has recognized that there is a problem with their substance use, wants to change their behaviour, and is starting to make a plan to change it (preparation).
  • Your child or loved one has recognized that there is a problem with their substance use and has started to make changes to their behaviour. Making these kind of changes take a lot of energy and your loved one may get frustrated if they do not see rapid changes (action).
  • Your child or loved one has made significant changes to their behaviour and is working to maintain their behaviour, which may be reduced use or abstinence (maintenance).

Identifying and understanding how your child or loved one feels about their substance use, whether they want to change their behaviour, and what their goals are will help you to better support them. It’s important to remember that your preferred goal may be very different from their goal. For example, you might wish that they’d stop alcohol and/or other drugs entirely, while they may want to reduce or control their use or to stop using one substance (for example, heroin) while continuing to use another (for example, cannabis).

Overview of Treatment Options

Treatment interventions and supports for substance use disorders can be understood as existing on a continuum of care, including pharmacological (for example, opioid agonist treatment with medications such as methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone or methadone) and non-pharmacological (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling).

Many people will benefit from accessing care at multiple points along the continuum, for example, receiving buprenorphine/
naloxone and traditional Indigenous healing practices, or inpatient residential treatment followed by outpatient treatment.

Treatment options in BC are available both privately and publicly.

Resources for Finding Treatment Options

If your child or loved one is between the ages of 12-24, they can access Foundry, which is building a provincial network of integrated health and social services and provides evidence-based mental health and substance use care. All Foundry centres provide primary care, substance use and mental health services (including opioid agonist treatment at many sites), and can provide referrals to other services in the community when needed.

In communities where Foundry centres do not yet exist, your child or loved one’s primary care provider can refer them to child and youth mental health and substance use services through their local health authority.

For older adults, their primary care provider may be able to provide addiction care
or refer them to an addictions specialist or other treatment options.

 

Copyright © 2021, BC Centre on Substance Use

400-1045 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9

E: [email protected] | T: (778) 945-7616 | F: (604) 428-5183

24/7 Addiction Clinician Support Line: (778) 945-7619

Online Addiction Medicine Diploma: [email protected].