Island Health expands two programs to better support people living with addiction

Victoria – People living with addiction and people who are ready to begin a pathway to recovery will now have greater access to the services they need. The Rapid Access Addiction Clinic (RAAC) in Victoria is expanding service hours and inpatient Addictions Medicine Consult Service, originally offered only at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, will now be available at the Victoria General Hospital too.

RAAC service hours will grow from four half days per week to five half days per week to better support people with addiction challenges – particularly those living with opioid addiction – to access treatment and begin the journey of recovery. RAAC hours are 9 a.m. to noon.

“When someone is ready to receive care and address their substance use issues they should not have to take a number. Connecting people to treatment quickly helps put them on a pathway to hope and recovery,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This is one of the ways we are building a seamless system of mental health and addictions care where you ask for help once and receive it fast.”

RAAC facts:

  • Serves 1,050 people (since opening in February 2017)
  • Supports opioid users with Opioid Agonist Treatments including Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) or methadone. These medications mitigate the difficult physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal such as pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating and anxiety/depression. Opioid agonist medications are taken once a day and can lead to rapid cessation of other opioid use.
  • Provides short-term counselling to promote long-term recovery
  • Makes connections with follow-up services, including primary care, additional counselling, mental health and substance use services, peer and social supports. 

There is no charge for the service or for the medications. People can be referred to the RAAC by their doctor, through Island Health’s Substance Use Intake, from hospital or through self-referral. Walk-in services are available and services are provided in a non-judgmental, culturally-safe manner for everyone. 

“When an individual is ready to seek treatment for their addiction, they need to access to supports right away,” Dr. Ramm Hering, Medical Director for Substance Use Services in Island Health. “By providing service five days a week, we can make sure we are ready when the client is ready. There are no waits to get service through the RAAC, so if someone is ready for treatment, we are ready for them.”

Addictions Medicine Consult Service (AMCS) was launched at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in June 2017 and is now expanded to Victoria General Hospital. Patients receive in-person consultation from an addictions medicine specialist. Telephone consultation service is also available for patients at Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

AMCS services:

  • Assessment and diagnosis;
  • Symptom management, particularly for difficult withdrawal symptoms;
  • Treatment initiation during hospitalization, which is an opportune time to start treatments such as buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone);
  • Post discharge planning supported by social worker and peer support worker; and,
  • Integration with outpatient services including the Rapid Access Addiction Clinic.

“The AMCS is primarily focused on patients with opioid use and alcohol use disorders, but provides consultation for any addiction-related concern involving any substance,” said Dr. Hering. “The service is a consult service available to physicians caring for patients with substance use disorder or suspected substance use disorder.”

Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 767,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River. 

With more than 20,000 staff and over 2,000 medical staff, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.

Media inquiries:
Meribeth Burton