British Columbia

B.C. pledges $36M to double addiction treatment beds available to youth

The B.C. government is committing $36 million to create another 123 treatment beds for young people struggling with substance use, more than doubling the number of beds available by 2022.

All 123 will be ready by 2022, according to ministry of mental health and addictions

British Columbia Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy is shown in a file photo. (Darly Dyck/Canadian Press)

The B.C. government is committing $36 million to create another 123 treatment beds for young people struggling with substance use, more than doubling the number of beds available by 2022.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy announced the new funding Thursday, pointing out that 60 people under the age of 24 died of suspected overdoses between January and June of this year.

"[These] were young people with bright futures ahead of them that were snatched away because of fentanyl poisoning," Darcy said.

Until recently, there were just 104 beds available for young people seeking treatment for addiction in B.C., including detox and withdrawal services. Another 20 beds were made available last week at the new Traverse facility in Chilliwack.

The funding covers the next 2.5 years, Darcy said, noting some of the beds will be available by the end of the fiscal year in March.

Darcy said the announcement comes after many discussions with parents who have lost children to overdoses during an overdose crisis that has lasted more than four years.

"I've … heard about how they knocked on one door after another after another trying to get help," she said.

Colin Tessier, executive director of Victoria's Threshold Housing Society, said that about 80 per cent of the young people who use the society's services have substance use problems.

He said that youth addictions are often less entrenched than those of adults, and making treatment services more easily accessible can "change the life trajectory of someone who is looking down a very dark path."

However, Tessier also noted that "the window of clarity and the desire to seek help can close very quickly."

According to the B.C. coroner, overdoses killed 175 people in June, up from 171 in May.

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