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Province to expand 'seamless' addiction recovery program at Vancouver hospital

A Road to Recovery bed and patient room is pictured. (Courtesy: Providence Health Care) A Road to Recovery bed and patient room is pictured. (Courtesy: Providence Health Care)

A treatment program for people struggling with addiction based out of a downtown Vancouver hospital has helped 94 people since launching in September, and will see more people through recovery as it expands, the province announced.

The Road to Recovery initiative at St. Paul’s Hospital was celebrated as a “first-of-its-kind” and “seamless” addictions care program at a news conference Monday.

The program’s goal is to give patients a continuum of care from detox, recovery and after-care with the same clinical team in the same place “so that we don’t lose them in the gaps,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside explained.

“It’s so important that when people make the decision, when they have that moment of clarity, when they’re ready to change their lives and they want to move into recovery that they are greeted with support, that it’s seamless from the moment they say ‘I need help,’ that they are carried through and supported every step of the way,” said Premier David Eby.

He said demand for addictions treatment is higher than ever in B.C., and that one out of six patients who come to St. Paul’s are struggling with active addiction.

The number of British Columbians who lost their lives to toxic drugs in 2023 recently surpassed 2,000, according to the BC Coroners Service—the third year in a row the death toll has been that high.

Eby added that people who frequently overdose cycle in and out of emergency rooms and end up not going into treatment because it isn’t always readily available.

“One of the problems we’ve had with our health-care system in the province when it comes to addiction in particular is that when people have that moment of clarity they’re told ‘OK, but you need to wait,’” Eby continued. “And that moment of clarity can pass, you can run into somebody you know, circumstances can change or you get quite sick, and that moment, that opportunity to change your life passes.”

With Road to Recovery, people who ask for help can now get into a detox bed “almost instantaneously,” said Dr. Seonaid Nolan, an addictions medicine physician with Providence Health Care, which runs St. Paul’s. She added patients can then choose to go straight from detox to treatment.

Fourteen detox beds opened at St. Paul’s in September, and 20 transitional care beds in the community opened in October. By March 2025, the province says Road to Recovery will operate 25 detox beds, 20 transition beds and 50 treatment and recovery beds.

Road to Recovery’s development was funded by a $20-million private donation from a family who lost a loved one to a fentanyl overdose. The province is providing $23.7 million per year for the program’s operation. Top Stories

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