The B.C. Government will be investing $36-million to provide 123 substance use and withdrawal management beds for young people struggling with addiction.

“I’m incredibly proud that our government has invested in the single largest increase in youth treatment beds ever made in B.C., so more young people can get the care they need, when they need it, close to home,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “For too long, young people and their families have faced long waits for treatment and a fragmented mental health and addictions system. Especially in these challenging times, young people shouldn’t have to wait for care. There’s much more to do, and we’re going to keep building a full continuum of mental health and addictions care for everyone in B.C.”

The Province said the investment will fill a long-standing gap in services for people aged 12 to 24. The money will be focused on areas of greatest need, with regional health authorities consulting on where the new beds will be located.

“Last month, a staggering 175 people lost their lives due to fentanyl poisoning of drugs on the street,” said Darcy. “Between January and June of this year, 60 young people under the age of 24 lost their lives in this fentanyl overdose crisis.”

Currently, there are 124 youth-focused beds across the province, the addition will bring the total up to 247 beds in B.C.

“These beds will include withdrawal management and detox spaces where youth can get to manage withdrawal, and begin their healing journey. They will include residential recovery beds that will offer a much-needed safe haven from challenging and high-risk living situations. It will also include highly specialized treatment spaces, which can include 24-hour psychiatric nursing care,” explained Darcy.

The first round of beds is expected to be in place by the end of the fiscal year, with more to follow as health authorities decide on the best-suited locations, plan clinical supports and complete implementation.

“You can’t take an opportunity that you aren’t given,” said Brody Van Velze. “Since the age of 14, I have struggled with substance abuse. During my addiction, my life was filled with broken relationships, no respect for others or myself, and poor decisions. I have been clean for over four years now, and I owe my thanks to the Last Door treatment centre. Because I was given the opportunity to have a placement, I have found a new path in my life that grants me happiness and healthy relationships with others and myself. I am thankful for the programs I was able to experience and learn from during my time there. I am thrilled to hear that there will be more funding going towards beds for our treatment centres, as more youth will now have the opportunity that I was given four years ago.”

The announcement follows last week’s announcement of the Provincial Government committing $10.5-million to scale up overdose prevention, supports, and treatment.