Treatment Options

Are you or someone you know struggling with substance use? Are you searching for suitable addiction resources and supports, but discovering the route to be confusing and daunting? Here is a breakdown of some of the programs available for adults.

The first stage in dealing with substance use may be detoxification in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms of substance use. There are two withdrawal management/ detox facilities in Vancouver and one in Surrey (Creekside); these are essential services operated and funded by the health authorities (Fraser Health & Vancouver Coastal). The detoxing process can range from 4 to 10 days depending on the substance as well as the frequency, duration and intensity of use.

Clinical counsellors at these detox facilities can also assist with treatment planning and can forward referrals to government approved residential programs. Going to a detox facility is not always necessary as many people withdraw on their own or with the assistance of their physician. No referral is necessary for admission to a detox facility. All one needs to do is call the intake line.

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In addition to counselling/psychotherapy, outpatient options include various meetings and day programs. Meetings can be very supportive throughout the recovery process. There are numerous 12 Step meetings in the region, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. It is important to find a home group that is a good fit for you. An alternative to 12 step meetings is SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training). SMART is based on Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) and other cognitive behavioural approaches of psychology. The program teaches self- empowerment and self reliance by offering techniques in the areas of: 1) Building and Maintaining Motivation, 2) Coping with Urges, 3) Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours and 4. Living a Balanced Life. There are SMART meetings in the community and online. Twelve Step, SMART, and other related support groups are typically led by volunteers. There is no cost or referral needed.

There are also day programs called Daytox in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and Chilliwack which are funded and operated by the health authorities. Daytox typically consists of a six week program that offers a range of psycho-educational groups, holistic activities, and medical support for those reducing their dependence on benzodiazepine. A clinical counsellor is available for further treatment planning and referrals to government approved residential programs if needed. Other day empowerment programs are often provided by community non- profit societies and agencies. Clients can self-refer to Daytox and most other day programs.

For many people struggling with substance use, the combination of counselling, meetings and day programs can often be sufficient in reaching recovering goals. But if someone is unable to achieve sobriety through outpatient supports and is highly motivated, note that residential programs are also available in the area.

Residential treatment programs can range quite drastically by: modalities (12 Step, bio-psycho-social-spiritual), length (30 days to over a year), therapeutic support (peer counsellors, clinical counsellors, psychologists, etc.), recreational activities, holistic approaches (acupuncture, yoga, art therapy, etc.), education/ job training opportunities, intensity level, and cost ($40 a day, up to $500+ a day). Treatment costs can be covered by: self pay, extended medical plans/ employers, income assistance or government subsidies. The referral process varies. Some programs allow self- referral while others require a referral by an addictions counsellor or mental health professional.

As of the date of this issue, the government subsidized and approved residential treatment/ support recovery programs for adults (18 and over) include: Charlford House (Female), Central City Lodge (Male), Ellendale Program (F), Hanna House (F), Heartwood (F), Homestead (F), Inner Visions (M), Kinghaven (M), Last Door (M), Maple Ridge Treatment Centre (M), New Dawn (F), Pacifica (Co-ed), Path to Freedom (M), Peardonville (F), Phoenix Centre (M), Together We Can (M), Turning Point (M, F, Co-ed), and Westminster House (F).

There are also a number of private treatment programs and recovery homes within the province. However, if you are thinking of going to a private program it is important to gather as much information about the program as possible. Visit the facility, check websites, ask about the programming offered, see if there are trained professionals on staff, etc. The fact that they do not receive government funding doesn’t mean they are ‘bad’ places. Many of them are licensed, accredited and have great reputations.

Numerous people ask “what program is the best”? All programs tend to keep their own statistics but the biggest indicator of success is the client’s dedication and commitment to the program (whether it be out-patient or residential). One needs to participate fully and put into practice what is learned. Persistence is key! A person can increase the likelihood of engagement by finding the best fit for him or her as everyone is unique and has different preferences. Hopefully the above information helps you to make that first essential step to recovery.

For information on any of the programs noted, contact Information Services at 604-875-6381.

Treatment Options
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Chris is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who provides support to youth and adults experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, PTSD, grief and substance use. As a therapist, his ultimate goal is to help clients enhance resiliency in their lives. He sets out to accomplish this by engaging in a collaborative and strength-based approach. He incorporates several different modalities and strategies based odn each client’s unique situation and preference, including cognitive behavioural therapy and EMDR.

Chris completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Arts in counselling psychology from Yorkville University. Prior to working in private practice, Chris’ professional journey took him to community agency, school and government programs as he had the privilege to work with an eclectic group of clients. In 2008 he collaborated with three fellow therapists and a team of programmers to create an online wellness boosting program called the Mental Health Boot Camp

Psychology aside Chris is the co-founder of the Original Ugly Christmas Sweater, an annual charity event in Vancouver that is credited with starting the ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ trend that has spanned the globe. His latest project has been to co-author a children’s book called: The Ugly Christmas Sweater Rebellion. Chris is a member of the Rotary Club of Coquitlam and is the co-vice president of the alumni association at his old high school, St.Thomas More Collegiate.

Chris provides presentations to the general public as well as educators and other mental health professionals. he is currently offering 3 presentation topics: ‘Wellness 101’, ‘Anxiety: Our Super Power!’, and ‘How to Use Pop Culture for Positive Change.’


Instagram: @mentalhealthbootcamp, @uglychristmassweaterbook

Podcast: The Mental Health Boot Camp Podcast



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