Interior Health offers substance abuse treatment initiative

Six-week program offered in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops

New intensive day treatment services are now available in four Interior Health communities to provide structured individual, group and family treatment and support for people with complex substance-use needs.

The Intensive Day Treatment Program was established this summer to remove barriers for those who recognize they need help but have busy lives—jobs with little flexibility or family demands—that make residential treatment programs unappealing or impossible to attend.

The program is available in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis within the Interior Health region. The first sessions began in June.

“This new program is one element of Interior Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use strategy,” explained Interior Health board chair Doug Cochrane.

“By offering a full range of services including outreach, residential treatment, supportive recovery, and now community-based day treatment, we are combating the ongoing overdose emergency and helping those with substance use disorders reclaim their health.”

In April, Interior Health hired four clinicians with extensive addictions training with the goal of building a robust, standardized and evidence-based treatment curriculum that meets the needs of those with substance use disorders.

Curriculum development has included input from Interior Health’s Aboriginal health team to ensure it meets the needs of Indigenous people.

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The program is funded through the Provincial Overdose Emergency Response program.

“We are excited to provide community day treatment as another option that removes barriers,” said Bruce Lange, Interior Health substance use knowledge coordinator.

“In the past, a person with substance use disorders would typically need to go out of the community to a residential program, which can be disruptive to people’s lives. The alternative was going to a counsellor once a week or once every other week, which for many people isn’t enough.”

The Intensive Day Treatment Program runs five days a week in mornings or afternoons. Groups usually include six or seven people who are referred through Interior Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use central intake in the community.

“These are people with any kind of addiction issue,” said Lange.

“They may not necessarily have stopped using all substances, but they are ready for change, and they are ready to be present and engaged and working.”

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Having recently completed the program in Kamloops, one client called it “absolutely amazing.”

“With the information, skills, and tools learned from the groups, I have been able to overcome these obstacles and feel incredibly lucky, grateful, and very proud,” said the woman client.

For information about the Intensive Day Treatment Program, contact the Interior Health Mental Health and Substance Use Centre in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton or Kamloops.

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