The data collected from our substance use survey has provided powerful insights into how we can provide better support.
In May of this year, we launched a substance use survey to engage with people who use drugs at home as well as the people who know them. We know from the BC Coroner reports that the majority of people who are dying from overdose are using drugs alone in private residences. Often individuals do so because of the stigma associated with substance use, making it challenging to engage with people in this demographic. The survey asked participants for input on how we can improve our substance use services and supports.
Nearly 1,200 people responded to the survey, and the majority of respondents were people who use substances, or family or friends of people who use substances. The data collected from the survey has provided powerful insights into how we can better support people who use substances, as well as their families and friends. We are implementing a number of actions to improve access to substance use services:
- To make it easier for people to access the supports they need, a new Substance Use Services Access Team will allow family practitioners, emergency departments and hospital staff to call one number to speak to a team of substance use professionals, make referrals or ask questions around services. The team will provide confidential services including providing information, individual counselling and family support, and will facilitate access to treatment.
- We are bolstering the 24/7 Fraser Health Crisis Line to create an immediate access point for people who are in urgent need of support related to their substance use. Previously, the Crisis Line primarily focused on supporting people with mental health concerns.
- We are expanding the existing Family Support Services program to enhance resources for the families and support networks of people who use substances.
- We are also expanding our regional and community-based mental health and substance use advisory committees by adding an additional two new spaces in each of the 11 committees across our region. These 22 new spaces will be dedicated to hearing from people who use substances and their families.
- Since concurrent mental health concerns can act as a barrier to treatment for almost 50 per cent of people who struggle with substance use, we are further integrating substance use services into existing mental health services to strengthen this connection.
By identifying where the opportunities are, we can continue to work with our community partners to ensure the services we provide are accessible and appropriate for people as they address their substance use.