Interior Health launches integrated treatment teams for substance use treatment

New help for substance use

Interior Health has expanded a substance use treatment program across the Thompson-Okanagan.

The unique new option is available for people seeking substance use treatment via five new integrated treatment teams in Enderby/Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Penticton, West Kelowna, and Cranbrook.

“Stigma drives people to use alone, and that isolation has been disastrous with the overdose crisis and the pandemic combined,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson said in a press release. “Embedding these new multidisciplinary teams in communities will provide a clear a path for people to access the health care they need and to be seen with dignity, compassion, and respect.”

Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO adds: “Everyone’s experience of addiction is unique, and their path to wellness is unique, as well. That’s why at the foundation of integrated treatment teams is the ability to meet people’s individual needs on their schedule, and to work with them towards their own personalized treatment goals.”

Members of the new teams have been hired and trained over the winter and are now ready to start seeing clients.

The model is designed to be as flexible as possible to accommodate people who have been unable to attend traditional inpatient or outpatient treatment programs in the past due to work schedules, lack of transportation, child-care demands, or other reasons.

Access to confidential, discreet services is based on the client’s needs and goals, which may include: counselling and other psychosocial treatments; medication (such as opioid agonist treatment like methadone and Suboxone, or those used to treat alcohol use disorder like Naltrexone); overdose prevention and harm reduction services and supports, and access to support from peers.

“This is a brand new team and a new approach,” said Lindsay Coughlin, a member of the West Kelowna team. “We provide more flexible, discreet treatment options for those who haven’t reached out before, including clients at risk of overdose or those who have significant substance use issues.”

“Often, when people think about addiction treatment they immediately think about in-patient facility-based treatment or ‘rehab’. However, evidence shows that accessing treatment in a community setting can have excellent outcomes. We offer substance use counselling and treatment online that is self-paced, something we haven’t offered before, and really supports people with work schedules and other responsibilities.”

Mental health and substance use services continue to grow in the Interior. New treatment beds are coming this spring in Kelowna to serve youth; access to opioid agonist treatment is expanding, with the first cohort of Interior Health’s nurse prescribers for Suboxone having just completed training; and access to community mental health services has improved with the launch of the 310-MHSU phone number.

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