BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Jane Thornthwaite is speaking out about the barriers increasingly faced by British Columbians seeking access to addiction treatment.
“Every week I hear from parents around this province who are desperate to get their children into addiction treatment but are facing more barriers than ever before,” says Thornthwaite. “Countless British Columbians struggling with addiction are being left out in the cold as this government fails to adequately fund treatment facilities that we know save lives.”
Pam Rader, whose son has struggled with addiction over many years, has described the difficulties she’s faced in her attempts to get her son into a publicly-funded addiction treatment centre bed. The current waitlist to get a referral from Interior Health Services is one to three months, which is then followed by another months-long waitlist for an actual treatment bed. Rader fears that her son is more likely to relapse with every day that goes by without getting him into treatment.
“Interior Health has told me a referral will take months, potentially. In the meantime, he’s expected to attend community health meetings with other active users where he has easier access to drugs,” says Rader. “I am having to stand watch over my son minute-by-minute to make sure he stays clean, but as a small business owner, I can’t do this for months on end while we wait for an available treatment bed. From our experience, it’s far more difficult today than at any time in the past decade to get access to treatment. It’s time for the government to reduce the barriers and help my son get into treatment before it is too late.”
“People around this province are still grappling with addiction and overdose at an alarming rate,” concludes Thornthwaite. “The BC Centre for Disease Control recently released a report confirming overdose rates have hit an all-time high this year, leaving no time for bureaucracy to get in the way. We need to be doing everything we can to save lives and every person who wants to access treatment should have the opportunity.”
Since the crisis was first declared in 2016, there have been over 4,850 opioid-related deaths in British Columbia.