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Addiction Treatment Options in BC

By: Nicole Durocher

Published On: April 21, 2022

Addiction and addictions treatment is a pertinent issue in our country. A 2019 Statistics Canada report, the Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CADS), was intended as a sweeping pulse-check of the substance use in Canada. Their website states  

Although the data were collected before the start of the pandemic, they are an important benchmark for understanding the alcohol and drug use patterns of Canadians… The 2019 CADS was designed to collect detailed information on alcohol and drug use in Canada. It also includes specific questions about cannabis use, such as the types of products used, methods of consumption and harm related to use.” 

Analysis of 2019 data recorded (and comparisons to earlier surveys) can be found here. The data shows that three-quarters of Canadians reported consuming alcohol within the past year. Use of other substances, including pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs, are also included in the survey data: 

  • 2% of Canadians reported using cocaine 
  • 2% reported using hallucinogens 
  • use of cannabis varied by province from a low of 18% in Quebec to 33% in Nova Scotia 

This CADS was the first survey post-legalization of cannabis, and so the survey had an interest in recording any change to cannabis use given the change in legal status.  

We can see from the survey data that many report having some engagement with substances. Alongside this engagement, various corresponding physical or mental health issues can arise. Those who find themselves struggling with substance use or misuse might choose to seek treatment. This information is not intended as a judgment of any substance use. You are your own best guide about what feels right for you, and seeking treatment is a choice the individual must make. 

Understanding addiction and how to best stop cycles of addiction is not simple. There are a myriad of views on therapeutic approaches to substance misuse, gambling addiction, or process addictions like eating disorders, to name some examples. Individuals will respond differently to treatment and no treatment is a one-size-fits-all solution.  

Types of treatment include inpatient clinics, outpatient treatment centres, and counselling for preventative therapy. Detoxification might be the first step, followed by psychological treatment in group therapy or one-on-one counselling. Medications might be prescribed by a doctor. An addictions support worker might work alongside healthcare professionals to liaise with clients.   

Types of Treatment

The BC Government provides this list of treatment options and descriptions: 

First Nations Treatment Centres: In British Columbia there are currently 10 First Nations residential treatment centres. 

Opioid Agonist Treatment: Opioid agonist treatment is the first-line recommended treatment for opioid use disorder, also known as opioid dependence or addiction. In opioid agonist treatment, opioid substitution medication (such as Suboxone or methadone) is provided to an individual to manage opioid withdrawal. This treatment is prescribed by a physician and may be offered as part of residential or outpatient treatment programs. 

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 treatment, and help 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-related challenges. Treatment includes group and one-on-one counselling, medical consultations, as well as life skills training, family support programs and other 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: Supportive recovery services can be delivered in different environments, including licensed residences or registered assisted living residences. Supportive recovery residences provide a safe, communal environment where individuals have the opportunity and the support to focus on their recovery journey and are suitable for people who may have completed a more intensive treatment program or require daily structure and support to prepare them for a more intensive treatment program.  

Withdrawal Management – Facility or Residential Based: A short-term service (up to 7 days) that provides clinical support to people withdrawing from substances. Withdrawal management takes place in different settings, including community, hospital, or home (with clinical team support). 

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. 

 BC Treatment Centres 

 If you would like to work in this field, or if you are looking for treatment advice for yourself or a loved one, see the information below. Look up your local Health Authority for more information about accessing services in your area. 

  • 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 toll-free from anywhere in B.C. at 1-800-663-1441 or from the lower mainland at 1-604-660-9382.  
  • BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services: substance use and mental health services for children, adolescents and adults across the province.  
  • 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.  
  • 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. 


The need for trained specialists to address addiction is paramount. The Mental Health & Addictions Support Worker Certificate at Ashton College is a thorough exploration of both theory and practice as it relates to these critical issues in our community. 


The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.


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