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New Service Available for People Addicted to Opioids in Victoria

May 16, 2017

VICTORIA – A new Rapid Access Addiction Clinic (RAAC) is open in Victoria to support people who use opioids such as morphine or heroin and who are ready for treatment and beginning a path to recovery.

“Addiction is not a choice – it is a chronic illness and like many chronic conditions, there are good treatments available which allow those living with addiction to stabilize their condition and get back to their normal lives,” says Dr. Ramm Hering, Physician Lead, Primary Care Substance Use.  “As part of a network of community-based services for people living with opioid use disorder, the RAAC will provide timely and streamlined access to opioid agonist – or replacement – therapy.”

The RAAC supports opioid users to start on buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone – medications that reduce the cravings for opioids and mitigate the difficult physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which include pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating and anxiety/depression. These medications only need to be taken once each day and often lead to rapid cessation of other opioid use. Along with supporting opioid replacement therapy, the RAAC offers limited short-term counselling with the goal to promote long-term recovery and help with connections to follow-up care including primary care, additional counselling, mental health and substance use services and social supports. 

The RAAC opened in February 2017 with limited hours and recently expanded its service hours to three hours per day, four days a week. Potential RAAC clients can be referred to the clinic by their doctor, through Island Health’s Substance Use Intake or from hospital. Clients can also self-refer to the clinic, and each day walk-in appointments are available. The goal of the RAAC is to offer accessible, non-judgmental treatment for opioid addiction in as timely a manner as possible.

“As we gain more understanding about the nature of addiction – and opioid addiction in particular, we are learning that the abrupt loss of tolerance that comes with rapid detox can be harmful and contribute to increased risk of overdose,” says Dr. Hering.  “Community-based services including treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) are safer and more effective; they save lives and reduce the societal and personal challenges associated with opioid use disorder.”

The Rapid Access Addiction Clinic is located at 1119 Pembroke Street and is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. The clinic is part of a network of community opioid treatment services in Victoria where people can seek supports for problematic opioid use. Other clinics are:

• Pandora Clinic, 922 Pandora Avenue. Open: Mon-Thu 9 am-5 pm.
• Cool Aid Health Centre (for people already registered with the clinic), 713 Johnson Street.
Open: Mon & Tue 9 am-6 pm; Wed & Thu 9 am-8 pm; Fri 9 am-3 pm; Sat 10 am-2 pm. 
• Victoria Youth Clinic (for people aged up to 24), 533 Yates Street. Open: Mon-Thu 11 am-6pm and Fri 11 am-4 pm.
• Outreach Services Clinic, 603 Gorge Road East. Open: Tue 1 pm-7 pm; Wed 9 am-5pm; Thu 10 am-3 pm.

Services at the RAAC are publicly funded for people covered by the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). The cost of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone is also publicly funded under Pharmacare (Plan G).

Island Health’s new RAAC supports the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response established in 2016. As part of the wide range of actions taken across the province, partners across the health system continue to expand access to life-saving naloxone, offer opioid addiction medications and treatments such as buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and methadone, provide overdose prevention sites, work with Health Canada on approvals to open supervised consumption sites and improve the overall system of substance use services.

“Addiction is treatable and recovery is possible.”

Media Inquiries:

Meribeth Burton
Island Health Media Relations
Email: meribeth.burton@viha.ca
Ph: 250.519.1815       Cel:250.896.0985