Reflecting the current landscape: New Doctors of BC policy on Substance Use Care in BC

February 29, 2024

Harmful substance use remains one of the most challenging public health crises in BC, despite meaningful steps taken by the provincial government and other partners to address this issue. As part of Doctors of BC’s ongoing advocacy work in this area, we have developed a new policy paper that expands upon previous recommendations to build a better substance use system of care that reduces stigma, prevents or minimizes substance use harms, and enables all British Columbians to access the care and services they need when and where they need it.

Our new policy paper, Improving Substance Use Care and Prevention in BC, reflects the current substance use landscape in BC, including current research and an expanded view of substance use to include both legal and illegal substances. Our updated recommendations emphasize the need for:

  • A concrete, actionable, and sustainably funded and resourced workplan to implement the focus areas outlined in the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction’s (MMHA) Adult Substance Use System of Care Framework, and development of a complementary framework on child and youth substance use care.

  • Improved support for physicians and other health care professionals to provide effective care for people experiencing harms related to substance use, including adequate funding and resources for timely preventative care, treatment, and ongoing care.

  • Evidence-informed prevention initiatives and addressing determinants of health associated with harmful substance use. 

  • Transparent monitoring, reporting, and evaluation of substance use initiatives both during and after their implementation to better understand the public health burden of substance use and the impact of interventions.

Further details, including our own commitments to support progress in this vital area, can be found in the policy paper which was informed by physician input, and builds upon recommendations first developed and detailed in our 2009 policy paper, Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in BC, and our 2021 policy statement on the illicit drug toxicity and overdose crisis

Harmful substance use has profound impacts on individuals, families, communities, and our health care system. While BC is adopting innovative strategies to tackle this issue, there is still much work to be done. Physicians can play a key role in supporting the creation of a substance use care system to make this shared vision a reality.

Visit our Policy Database to learn more about our extensive policy work on behalf of BC’s doctors. If you have any questions, please contact .